BORDERS / Europe

Animated pencil drawing | 1:40 min / loop | HD | mute | 2010

 

 

Text in the catalog of the exhibition: Europe. The Future of History, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2015

by Manuela Reissmann

The Future of History

 

 At the centre of Simona Koch’s artistic work lies the animate world and its connections, development processes and structures. In drawings, photographs, installations and animated films she reflects on her researches into the fundamental scientific and philosophical questions connected with life. From the tiniest organism to humanity she studies the effects and interactions, developments and traces that are caused by living beings.

The traces of humankind and the associated consequences are of special interest to Simona Koch. In the animated film GRENZEN/ Europa she examines in a subtle and poetic way the effects of drawing, shifting and removing borders and in doing so touches on an almost endless chain of associations. With a pencil she drew the European borders from year zero up to the present on a sheet of paper, only to erase them again, change them or replace them with others. Historical atlases and maps, which she found at flea markets, in secondhand bookshops, in libraries and on the internet, served her as templates. But although she keeps to the chronological sequence she provides no actual years: the historical contextualization is unimportant. In the foreground are rather the instability of borders and constant changes on the European continent, intensified by showing them in fast motion. Switching the drawing into a negative produces other exciting components: thus, at the beginning of the film only a dark surface can be seen, which is gradually covered with white, constantly changing lines. Each border as it disappears leaves bright shadows which, once the artist has erased today’s borders as well, result in a pulsing, organic mesh, which eventually makes the continent visible in its rough forms.

With GRENZEN/Europa Simona Koch gives rise to thoughts about what borders actually are and how and why they come into existence, what kinds of borders there are, what they can mean and what they can trigger. Borders made by people separate one from another, exclude or include. Political or physical borders also become cultural, social and mental barriers, creating identifications, bonds and a feeling of security. And, vice versa, they can also cause fear, favour prejudices against the other beyond the border and make exchanges difficult. The rhizome-like mesh at the end of the film, consisting of the traces of former state borders, looks like an x-ray image of Europe and points to an organic connection on the far side of national aspirations.

Manuela Reissmann (translation from German by Nelson Wattie)