Frauke Dannert (*1979 in Herdecke, Germany) studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and at Goldsmiths, University of London. In her works on paper as well as in her spatial installations, she follows the principles of collage.
In 2016 the Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf and the Kunstmuseum Luzern both hosted a solo exhibition of her works. Additional solo exhibitions at the Kunstmuseum Bonn and the Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig are following in 2018. Currently, Frauke Dannert holds the Dorothea-Erxleben scholarship and teaches at the Braunschweig University of Arts. She lives and works in Cologne.
In her second solo exhibition at Galerie Lisa Kandlhofer, Frauke Dannert transfers her constructional and analytical strategies of collage from architecture to plant life. The title ‘folie’—the French term for a formally thought through, but otherwise useless building in garden architecture—refers, as regards content, to Dannert’s emblematic architectural collages. Phonetically the term simultaneously adds new clusters of visual motifs to her work: works on paper, photographs and a mural are dedicated to elements from the field of botany, such as the leaves (ital.: foglia / fr.: feuille) of a tree or a plant.
Made into a collage of crystalline growth, the now multiplied individual motifs of ‘Splitter’—slivers— (2016) and Dolde—umbel—(2016) still show the architectural motifs that are characteristic of Dannert’s work, as, for instance, the light wells of Le Corbusier with their basic deltoid shape. The serial elements, that were conceived and made by humans, follow time-based aesthetic ideas and underlie the mathematical principles of geometry, may initially appear paradoxical, juxtaposed with their own trailing growths. But they might also conjure up images of crystals and rocks like pyrite which combine geometric shapes with living growth: Algorithms of natural phenomena or the chromosomal formulae of the genetic make-up of humans, animals or plants spring to one’s mind—and therewith the intertwinement of mathematical formula and natural processes.
In Frauke Dannert’s black and white multi-exposures from the series ‘Orangerie’ (2017), architectures of modernistic garden buildings are interlaced with the amorphous structures of various leaves and grasses and form a rhizomorphic growth of steel, glass and cellulose. Due to the reflections and superimpositions of clear lines and grids, the spatial laws dissolve in a kaleidoscopic manner. The engineer’s traditional pursuit of statics is confronted with an autonomous process of change that manifests itself in the nature of the incorporated flora.
The artist’s interest in the interlacement of interior and exterior space continues with the inclusion of motifs from garden architecture and conservatories in her (photographic) collages. The disintegration of static architectural structures by way of light and transparency and their dynamization through deconstruction that also underlie Dannert’s installations with overhead projectors are here concentrated on the planar square of the photographic paper.
Scans of plant leaves constitute the starting point of the paper collages from 2017 and 2018. In an interplay with partial cut-outs and varnishing, they become the object of a playful as well as an explorative approach to the simple amorphous shaping and the complex surface structure of the leaf. While some of the works appear to follow the flat arrangements of ‘naïve’ plant classification or scientific displays, similar to Dannert’s ‘Templates’, the artist reverts with her botanical motifs to the strategies of building and construction.
Motifs from brutalist architecture, photocopied and collaged into fantasy buildings, are now being replaced by detailed images of delicately veined plant leaves, which obsoletely, and sometimes perpetually, assemble again into a leaf, a tree, a plant or branches. The proportionally skewed causality of a ‘constructed nature’ allows the delicate stems to turn into pillars and columns, trunks and connecting grids, which carry canopies and treetops, support their own bodies and elevate the realistic motifs into surreal constellations.
Hence the meticulously coordinated pieces of the leaf collage ‘Bosco’ (2018) conjure up an empirically unlikely, if impossible, botanical growth. The delicate veins and the sprawling arms of the ‘Banderole’ add an animalistic quality to the motifs, while the basic shapes of the collage remain pervaded by an open symbolism.
The ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss used the term ‘bricolage’ to describe the nature of ‘primitive’ building and organization with ‘remains of previous constructions and destructions’ which often reflect the mythical thought of indigenous populations: ‘Each element represents a set of actual and possible relations’. Thus, the elements are not only to be defined by their potential use for construction, but they refer to other worlds, beyond themselves, through the evidence their ‘former’ lives have left behind. 2
Whereas the architecture in Frauke Dannert’s collages immediately evokes historico-cultural classification and reflection, the plant motifs appear to virtually evade any chronological and contextual connection. The concreteness, immanent to the building per se, opens up to the universality of nature. Yet a mythical quality becomes apparent in the exhibition ‘folie’—and it appears to go far beyond the eventfulness of civilization.
Jari Ortwig | Translation by Susanna Fahle
2 Cf. Claudia Lévi-Strauss: Die Wissenschaft vom Konkreten, In: Das wilde Denken, 1973 Frankfurt a.M., P 30 et seq.