Opening this Saturday June 14th 5 - 9 pm
Exhibition June 13 – July 26, 2014
Used objects come together in Sofia Hultén's second solo exhibition at RaebervonStenglin, their grubby familiarity casting the material world as an extension of the lived-in mind. Acclaimed as part of a 'New Realist' movement, Hultén's sculptures and films relate to a commonplace world as personal as it is pervasive, her title referencing the comedian Mitch Hedberg's (1968–2005) ingenious admission: 'I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.'
The backs of a white transit van, jeans, balti curry, laptop, and industrial lifting slings are some of the ingredients Hultén has brought together to make the work in the exhibition — dirty readymades rich in back-stories and sculptural contrasts. Linked only through their utilitarianism, Hultén's materials are submitted to deviant configurations. The dividing walls of a transit van are welded together in a radial formation in Spinning in the Back of the Van (all works 2014), invoking the ennui of a British adolescence ('what you would see if you were drunk in your friend's van as a teenager in Birmingham', the artist explains). Line with Complications sees old lifting slings, such as would be used for skips and other heavy loads, contorted into extremely elegant knots articulating the mathematical study of topology. Another work joins together the fragments of an old pair of the artist's jeans with another pair she found left in the street. Joined at the zip, their denims differ subtly but perceptively, each baring their owner's genetic imprint. In the past, Hultén's art has explored destruction, but here she embarks on a rescue mission, reconstituting ordinary relics of the recent past so that they acquire a new composure and conviction.
In the back gallery, a video piece entitled Matter is Plastic in the Face of the Mind takes a sequence of events and scrambles their causality. As the critic Mark Prince has noted, 'narrative realism is parodied, then baffled, through its reshuffling' in Hultén's videos. If its title suggests that for Hulten art is a way of looking at the world, a matter of the mind and endlessly subjective, then its deadpan content is so farcical as to point to the opposite: that there is no escaping the facts of the material. The objects encountered in 'I Used To, I Still Do, But I Used To, Too' don't acquire transcendence — they remain too evidently themselves for that – and their past lives vibrate with their present.
Sofia Hultén was born in 1972 in Sweden. She lives and works in Berlin. Her recent solo exhibitions include 'If You Never Did You Should', Konrad Fischer Galerie, Berlin (2013); 'How did it get so late so soon', Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig (2013); 'Sofia Hultén and Nina Canell', Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo, Brazil (2013); 'Statik Elastik', Langen Foundation, Neuss, Germany (2012); 'One in Ten', Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm, Sweden (2012); 'Moderna Museets Vänners Skulpturpris 2011', Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2011) and 'PRESSURE DROP', RaebervonStenglin, Zurich, Switzerland (2011).