Alicja Kwade's "7 x Dionysus Offers" on view at Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld, Germany through February 16, 2014

Johann König
Jan 24, 2014 4:30PM

In 7 x Dionysos Offers (2013), the figures of seven women can be seen crouching on the ground. These are the Drinking Women which the Berliner sculptor Ernst Wenck designed in the 1920s. The figure was made into a prototype which the porcelain company Rosenthal produced en masse for commercial sale.

In Alicja Kwade’s work, the Drinking Women are partaking of gold, rather than a sip of water. The figures are grouped round a loose pile of gold jewellery which represents the font of the gold. In point of fact the gold comes from the belongings of a woman who had died. It no longer harbours her private memories, but has been revalued simply as merchandise that can be purchased by anyone who wants on the Internet. The title of the work also leads us into the world of antique mythology, where Dionysus, son of Zeus and the god of wine, taught humans the art of viniculture and performed miracles. The title of the work also contains the word offers, alluding to the offering of the seductive liquid by Dionysus. With that the recipient is free to choose whether she accepts the draught or not. This state of indecision and uncertainty corresponds to the temporal moment in which Ernst Wenck depicted his Drinking Women: the cupped hands in which the gold is located are frozen in the course of action, shortly before they reach the mouth, and with that the very picture of the moment of reflection itself. The decision remains uncertain to us, the viewers.

Johann König
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019