Annette Ruenzler: The power to faint at will – or not
- Alex Hetherington
- 14 May 2009
It is often said you should talk to plants; in German artist Annette Ruenzler’s subversive yet subtle universe, her flowers talk back. A series of cut-out flower photocopies are ‘pressed’ on pages accompanied by tiny, flowing newspaper-cutting letters, which form accusing, demanding or poetic phrases in a style reminiscent of ransom notes. It is this tension between the decorative and the sinister that plays together to form a brilliantly orchestrated observation on gender aesthetics, the civilised, masculine assertion and the ornamental.
Vulnerable or illusory situations dominate this show: a naked, female figure is seen upside down disguised in part by a domestic rug; our presence, as observers, in the spaces skewed by mirrored peep holes, and a sculpture of tightly grasping adults arms held aloft by the weakest grip, a child’s hand.
Ruenzler’s materials, meanwhile, are both immaculate and delicate yet powerfully rendered, inviting a cautious and curious approach. This underscores her interest in the dichotomy between perceived strength and weakness, and frames her criticisms levied against more utilitarian, masculine ideals of the modernist landscape. In turn, the title of the show, where fragility and force combine, extends her tactical analysis of gender and visual politics. It reminds us that appearances can be deceptive and a delicate gesture can also hold the most formidable punch.
Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow, until Sat 23 May