January 31 – February 15, 2020
The upcoming exhibition “Fiction of a Non-Entry” will present video works by conceptual artist Mischa Leinkauf at PYLON-Lab. The exhibition will open on Friday, January 31st at 6pm and will be on view until February 15th.
In his artistic practice, Mischa Leinkauf deals with boundaries and restrictions of both theoretical and physical manner: He investigates how rules and legislation constitute limitation of space through their materialization in forms of barriers and borders. Through interventions in quasi-natural systems of order, he provokes situations that create temporary confusion and open up spaces for a possible recoding.
The exhibition “Fiction of a Non-Entry” at PYLON-Lab presents Leinkauf’s latest video work from 2019 in which you see the artist crossing the underwater extensions of state borders, as well as the video work “Symbolic Threads” (2015) from Leinkauf’s collaboration with Matthias Wermke, with whom he forms the adventurous artist duo Wermke/Leinkauf.
For “Fiction of a Non-Entry”, Mischa Leinkauf deals with borders as a structuring element of present times. Despite the general hope that German reunification would also dismantle borders worldwide, the construction of national barriers has been experiencing an unanticipated renaissance for two decades. Whereas in 1989 there were 16 border fortifications in the world comparable to the Berlin Wall, today more than 70 barriers separate states and cities. Where borders are secured with military force and privileges of national identity are organised hierarchically, they reinforce the feeling of social separation and exclusion. Wars, struggles and conflicts are legitimised through national isolation. Walls, fences, passports and security agencies cement the spatial order and the power relations associated with it. A radical renunciation of this structure, however, does not transcend the mere dismantling of its material artefacts: the totality of borders has been anchored as a paradigm in the mind, although countless areas of human relations have long since been unaffected by territorial limitations.
Against this background, Mischa Leinkauf deals both with the territorial limitations between nation-states and with their symbolism. The title of the exhibition refers to the expression „fiction of a non-entry“, which stems from German refugee policy. While the term refers to an enclave of territorial disenfranchisement – so-called transit centres – Leinkauf uses it to raise fundamental questions about the norm and practice of territoriality and identity. Under the title „Fiktion einer Nicht-Einreise“ (Fiction of a Non-Entry), Leinkauf scrutinises whether identity today can be limited by territorial allocation and nationality or instead defined by far more differentiated characteristics of belonging to social groups.
The video work of the same title shows Leinkauf crossing the invisible borders on the ocean floor between Israel and Jordan or Egypt in the Red Sea and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta and Morocco in the Strait of Gibraltar. The respective regions are militarily guarded and secured by border fortifications, some of their fences protrude 30 metres from the banks into the water. Behind them, a landscape opens up to which visual separation has to surrender: the sea. With a research period of over a year, Leinkauf travelled into these regions and crossed their borders whilst diving. By leaving the overland routes, Leinkauf traces the national interspaces. Where systematic gaps arise, he reveals the absurdity of control systems in a performative way. The recording shows him at the bottom of the sea. Instead of tearing down the architectures of isolation, Leinkauf overcomes the borders of the regions by walking in the dystopian-looking tranquillity and expanse of the sea and opens up a space of absolute freedom.
“Symbolic Threats” is a compilation of media responses to an incident that caused a big stir in the big apple. In the summer of 2014 Wermke/Leinkauf climbed the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and replaced the American flags on top of it’s towers with two all-white Stars and Stripes. The 17 minutes video is a montage of TV and media reports to the art project that intended to celebrate “the beauty of public space”, as the artists explained.
The works in the exhibition “Fiction of a Non-Entry” set politically motivated border demarcations and landmarks visually out of action and bring a critique into play that is directed against topographical and symbolic barricading.
Where hermeticism seems oppressive, he peacefully infiltrates. Through practices of physical appropriation, he visualises the dichotomies of violence and peace, use and abuse, and fundamentally questions subjectivity against the background of territorial classifications. Previously self-evident perspectives are broken up, and the underlying structures of demarcation are radically exposed as an artificial order.
Text by Almut Poppinga
January 31 – February 15, 2020
The exhibition will open on Friday, January 31st at 6pm and will be on view until February 15th.