Zilla Leutenegger

Prada, Torch & Anderes

August 26 - October 7, 2006

The Peter Kilchmann Gallery is pleased to announce the fifth solo exhibition by the Swiss artist Zilla Leutenegger

(*1968, Switzerland. Lives and works in Zurich). The artist shows four new video installations and drawings. In the

context of this exhibition, the artist not only deals with the exploration of the moving figure in the dimensions of space

and time, but she also displays human gestures while waiting, explores light as ephemeral material and analyses the

relation between subject and object. Apart from her two-dimensional drawings, moving images are an integral element

of her video drawings and digitally manipulated animations, which are frequently combined with threedimensional

objects or mural painting. Since the mid-Nineties Leutenegger has not only featured herself or a female

alter ego, but beyond that, she has also referred to the cultural constructions of the self in the 21st century. Thus,

Leutenegger finds herself on a constant search for pictures of daily courses of motion as well as situations of absence

and presence, which she can convert graphically and spatially.

Prada (2006) – In the centre of the gallery room a mirror is leaning against two columns. By means of a projection, a

young woman in a fashion shop can be observed. With the odd moment of stopping from time to time, she is trying

on various dresses and accessories – the distillate of an action in the daybreak in a Prada shop in Tokyo, the glass

architecture of which was constructed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. With this action, Leutenegger

fulfilled herself a popular dream of many women during a stay in Japan. The result, however, is a video showing

rather non-glamorous gestures and poses of the female protagonist when dressing and undressing, linked with moments

of pausing. She stares at her shoes, looks at her trousers. Due to the reflection in the mirror, the viewer is an

integral participant of the seemingly transparent video projection and extends the constructed space with his/her

presence. Some sequences of the video work are technically alienated using a kaleidoscope effect, whereby the

disillusioning of the dream is strengthened. The word "kaleidoscope" originates in the Greek language and, literally

translated, means "beautiful picture onlooker". The Prada glass tower resembles a split-up view through a kaleidoscope

due to its cladding consisting of hundreds of different pieces of glass. Interestingly, the Prada palace is located

in Tokyoʼs shopping area Aoyama – a specific place reflecting the culture and values of our mass-consumption

society. There, shopping can be observed as a public ritual, leisure activity and entertainment, or citing Barbara Kruger:

"I shop, therefore I am" (1967).

Lucellino (2006) means in Italian: small light. The so-titled work consists of a mural painting of black lines combined

with a projected video drawing onto the wall. A young woman only dressed in a brassiere, black trousers and a black

hat, is sitting on the floor (seen lateral), repeatedly pushing a black hanging lamp away from her. The black lines

painted on the wall represent the movement of the lamp and are static. However, the moving light cone is dynamic,

which suggests the real movement of the hanging lamp. The described situation is generated by the repetition of a

minimum gesture, which opens a specific space and makes time accessible for the visitor. In her motion studies, as

she calls them herself, the artist uses repetition as a stylistic medium to intensify time in one of her constructed spatial

situations. This situation apparently freezes an autistic moment, which shows a young woman in a non-narrative

context. Leutenegger considers spaces as organisms with their own “space life” and provides these with a date of

expiry (e.g. for the duration of an exhibition, time spent by the viewer).

A cone of light by a torch is searching and moving slowly over the wall. This scene is part of the video installation

entitled torch (2006). On closer examination, the projected words "Zilla was here" appear letter by letter in the round

looking light cone of the torch. The projection of the torchlight is coming out from a real torch, which is placed on a 2-

stairs construction. Leutenegger broaches not only the ephemeral character of light but also the self-referring moment

as the work refers to the presence of the artist in the past. The words function on a semantic level as a locum.

It seems as if Leutenegger has left a trace in form of an extended signature, which is not detectable in its entireness,

but searching and approaching for their existence again and again.

The video projection Der unendliche Raum / The infinite space (2006) concerns itself with an analogue interpretation

of the Closed Circuit procedure. Onto the wall a picture of a wall break-through is projected, which opens a further

digitally constructed gallery space. There, the artist can be seen at moving through the room and waiting for

something or somebody. The act of waiting is unmistakably demonstrated via the gesture of checking the time and

by her walking back and forth. Apparently, the protagonist is bored by her waiting, a situation which will be only temporally

experienced, depending on the time the viewer will spend here. In the wall, another break-through is visible

that shows the same waiting person in the gallery room and so on. This multiplying of space into the infinite is technically

realizable by means of a simple construction of two mirrors hanging opposite of each other. However, the

crucial point is: The artist is reflected in her medium and thereby, reflects her work. Since the 70s, the Closed Circuit

procedure was repeatedly the subject of artistic works and shaped, among others, the works by Dan Graham and

Bruce Nauman.

Furthermore, a series of differently sized watercolour drawings are displayed, presenting pieces of furniture. The

furniture are taken out from the house of the artist and function as prototypes linked with their historical context.

Thus, Leutenegger – following her topic logic – not only focuses on the moving figure within a space but also on

furniture as flexible element in an apartment. In the context of her last solo exhibition "Wichtiger Besuch (Important

visitors)" (2006) in the Saarlandmuseum, the exhibition area was divided in different rooms of a suggested house

where the works were distributed and the visitor was invited to walk around. There, the drawings or projected furniture

were only adumbrated and rather served for allocation of the living spaces. Here however, they turn out to be

the definite objects of the artistʼs investigation, ignoring the relationship of subjects and objects. As Jean Baudrillard

demonstrated in Le système des objets (1968) before, the allocation of the objects and thus their subordination under

the control of the subject can be seen just as in reverse, i.e. as creeping authorization of the object over the subject.

The facility elements of modern apartments correspond to order systems, which place the subject only in a

clearly arranged object structure.

The artist has already taken part at several solo and group exhibitions such as: Imagination Becomes Reality. Part

V, Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2006), Cooling Out – Zur Paradoxie des Feminismus, Kunsthaus Baselland, Muttenz

(2006), Zilla Leutenegger, Ursula Blickle Videolounge, Kunsthalle Wien (2006), Vienna, The Smokers, Centro

Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela (2005), Wonderbox, 11e Biennale de l'image en mouvement,

MAMCO, Geneve (2005), Wishful Thinking, Fundació La Caixa, Sala Montcada, Barcelona (2004), Zilla Leutenegger,

Manor-Kunstpreis, Bündner Kunstmuseum, Chur (2004), A grain of dust a drop of water, Gwangju Biennale,

Gwangju (2004).

*New catalogue: Zil la Leutenegger. Wicht iger Besuch, exhibition catalogue, Saarlandmuseum Saarbücken,

22.04. - 25.06.2006, published in June 2006, 77 pages, 60 coloured pictures, hardback, Hatje Cantz Verlag.