CONSTANTIN HARTENSTEIN – OFF GRID
05.02. – 01.04.2022
Softopening: 04.02.2022, 6 pm
Opening hours: Thurs/Fri 4–8 pm, Sat 12–4 pm
Curators: Sylvia Sadzinski and Alexander Wilmschen
Constantin Hartenstein’s Off Grid at Kunstverein Dresden is devoted to the visibility and aesthetics of queer communities in the GDR that operated on the social margins.
In this exhibition, Hartenstein presents several epoxy resin sculptures, which are lit up and displayed in a tiered spatial arrangement, as well as a new video work. The light blue, translucent works are enriched with colour pigments that were used on an industrial scale at the time of the GDR. The epoxy resin not only binds the infused pigments to a crystalline structure, but also produces surface reliefs in the form of bodies, abstract patterns, and textual fragments.
The blue sculptures make reference to rare visual and written material from special archives and magazines. They incorporate motifs and texts from periodicals, advertisements, flyers, and pamphlets – alienating, expanding, and re-contextualising the queer and, in particular, gay aesthetics of East Germany in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The video work attends to locations that once acted as the scene’s meeting points; they can be read as spaces that offered both security and freedom. Hartenstein’s artistic approach deliberately highlights and questions gaps in the way this subject has been explored: What specific forms of expression did lesbian, gay, and queer groups create and use in their activism during the GDR? What did visibility look like outside specific venues and meeting places and how was it used to explain and draw attention to a supposed ‘otherness’? What remains of this visibility at present? Off Grid deals with key issues concerning body images, masculinities, exclusion, belonging and acceptance, networking and exchange. Furthermore, it asks how queer communities were created that are still meaningful today.
Constantin Hartenstein’s artistic practice focuses on how images representing bodies and masculinity have been constructed within our aesthetic consciousness. He addresses interventions aimed at the optimisation of individual bodies as well as how the body and its interfaces relate to a technology-driven landscape. His sculptures, video works, installations, and performances bring questions about individual existence into an environment marked by artifice and machinery, seizing on the aesthetics of consumer society and its ramifications. They investigate claims to power by and on queer bodies and, not least, their normative and gendered codifications.
Constantin Hartenstein (b. 1982) lives and works in Berlin. He studied Art and Media at the Berlin University of the Arts and Fine Arts at the Braunschweig University of Art. Since 2019, Hartenstein has been an Artistic Associate at the Film Institute of the Berlin University of the Arts.
His work has been shown in a large number of solo and group exhibitions across several institutions, including Studio Berlin (Boros Foundation/Berghain), KUK Trondheim, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Galerie im Turm Berlin, Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Berlinische Galerie, Goethe Institute Beijing, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, and Goethe Institute New York. He has received grants and awards from organisations including Akademie der Künste Berlin, Stiftung Kunstfonds Bonn, Kunststiftung NRW, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, and Karl Hofer Gesellschaft.