SEBASTIAN ACKER –
PLEASE KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED
09.12. – 31.01.2023
Sebastian Acker uses a wide range of media to make us reconsider our relationship with nature. In his videos, installations and image-based works, he traces the origins of natural resources and global supply chains, as well as myths of pristine nature, the Anthropocene and the romantic period. His practice often includes processes of making visible normally imperceptible matter, such as lithium in a desert landscape, and manipulation of materials and narratives to challenge the manifold symbolic meanings we attach to objects and places.
At the centre of his site-specific installation at Kunstverein Dresden is a video that the artist recorded through the window of the Trans-Siberian Railway, en route to an artist residency in Siberia three years ago. On the monotonous four-day journey, his view of the vast expanse that is the Russian taiga was only periodically interrupted by freight trains transporting goods and raw materials between Europe and Asia. Shot entirely on his smartphone, the footage merges the shipping containers and their logos into a nearly abstract layer, which only allows fragmented glimpses of the forest in the background.
The minimal video, which was awarded the 20 Seconds for Art Award by KÖR after being shown on the screens of Austrian buses, trams and underground stations, responds to a different urban context in Dresden. Almost no material has been used for the installation at the Kunstverein: the video is projected onto ceiling tiles, which the artist has first removed from the gallery ceiling and then suspended to form a screen in the centre of the exhibition space. The void in the false ceiling exposes the electrical infrastructure and hidden architecture of the room.
Thus the installation uses the empty space itself to create multiple layers of depth, unexpected views and conceptual connections. The video, which was shot through a window and separates foreground and background, can itself only be viewed through the shop window from the exterior. The invisible goods and raw materials in the shipping containers, which are transported around the globe via precarious supply chains, meet the materials of the empty space which have their own unknown origin. And in the background, the forest twinkles between the shipping containers, at times disappearing from view, and reappearing optionally as raw material or pristine nature.
Sebastian Acker (*1981 in Lichtenstein, Germany) lived and worked in London for 15 years, where he studied sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art. He relocated to Berlin after the Brexit referendum in 2016. He has recently published his first artist book, Traces of Other Places, with Kerber Berlin, for which he has received the Stiftung Kunstfonds Publication Grant. He was also awarded the Arts Council England Grant, the AHRC Scholarship, and the 20 Seconds for Art Award by KÖR. He has had solo exhibitions at Black Flamingo, Fahrbereitschaft/Haubrok Foundation in Berlin (2018) and Neuer Ravensburger Kunstverein with Phil Thompson, (2017). He has recently shown his work at Manifesta 12 in Palermo (‘May The Bridges I Burn Light The Way’, 2018), Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (‘Diving into a Teacup’, 2018), and Haus der Statistik in Berlin (‘Residenzpflicht’, 2020). He has attended several international artist residency programs and given talks at Strelka Institute, Chelsea College of the Arts and the Slade School of Fine Art.