The Gallery Hans Mayer presents the series of six works entitled „Norad I – VI“ by Katharina Sieverding. The work was created 1980 and exhibited at the neighboring Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, just across the street from the gallery. Her last solo-exhibition at a gallery took place in 1976; thus 40 years later the Gallery Hans Mayer pays homage to the artist in her hometown.
A report in the news-magazine “Der Spiegel” about false alarms in the US nuclear command named Norad triggered off this series. A black-and-white photograph illustrated the article showing the tunnel-entrance to the subterranean headquarter in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado: a tunnel-entrance as contemplative as anywhere in the Alpes—a military Jeep cum driver giving an idea of the size of the site. Katharina Sieverding enlarged this small image to the scale projection of 4 by 5.4 meters and placed the silhouette of a woman over entrance and mounting; the outline of her cloak unfolds over the scenery as if she were a Madonna. Two juxtaposing colors are at the same time graphic element as well as message: an aggressive red signaling alert and a soothingly comforting green. The figure of the woman stems from the film “Orpheus” by Jean Cocteau that poetically condensed narration of the ancient myth of love, ephemerality, murder and fidelity.
The coloration of the other works is also highly contrastive. Behind purple metal bars appears a young man in semi-profile whose glance seemingly is directed rather inward than downward. His prison cell, his hair and his outlines again bear shades of green—a doomed man awaiting his execution. The third image is also derived from a publicized original: A man hovers over a naked woman on a beach who is half-way buried in the sand; only her head, shoulder, breast protrude from the sand in various shades of blue while the man is kept in red. An uncertain, sexually charged situation.
All three images are executed twice in distinctive coloring, in varying coarsened projections or as mirror image. Battle of the sexes, violence against humans, atomic threat—the theme of “Norad I – VI” is the latent fight. Although these works were created 36 year ago, they have not lost any of their immediate impact. In conversation, Katharina Sieverding points to the various crises of our time, from Russia, to the Middle East or Asia.
Originally the “Norad”-series was entitled “Fade-Out”. The term for the end of a movie was the code word for the highest alarm in the Central Atomic Command in Colorado. By posting the name of the subterranean military base she released these six photographic images of their real image plain. Alienation as a means in order to illustrate and to intensify. “In a broader sense, photography brings light into uncertain situations. It is an art-form of light”, declared Katharina Sieverding once and thus made clear why she is not a photographer. Photography to her is a means of thinking, a tool for her dealing with issues of our time.
Initially the photo-sheets were pinned to the wall and billowed on the floor or in front of the wall depending on the exhibition-space and the humidity (it was easier to have them rolled in order to transport them to the various museums and exhibition-spaces where they were on display). For the presentation at the Gallery Hans Mayer, Katharina Sieverding placed them in ridged frames, which makes the montages all the more startling.
Before the artist starting working with Joseph Beuys at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in the 1960's, Katharina Sieverding started her career in theater. She collaborated with Fritz Kortner who invited her to the Burgtheater in Vienna and with the influential stage set-designer Teo Otto. The English poet W. H. Auden once wrote good drama derives from the relationship between expectation and the confrontation with reality. Given this thought, the “Norad”-Series is drama at its best, condensed in photomontages of steadfast validity, as true as ever.
Born in Prague, lives and works in Düsseldorf and Berlin.
Important exhibitions involve the Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York, the Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, the ICA, Boston, SFMOMA, San Francisco, as well as Museum Folkwang, Essen , the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, the Kunstsammlung NRW, Düsseldorf, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin and the Kunst-Werke, Berlin.
Some of Katharina Sieverding’s group exhibitions include the Paris Biennale (1965 ,1973), the Venice Biennale (1976; 1980, 1995, 1997 (German Pavillon) 1999), Documenta, Kassel (1972; 1977; 1982), the 4th Biennale Sydney (1982), the Shanghai Biennale (2002), as well as extensive shows at the MoMA P.S.1, New York and Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin.
She has been awarded an array of prizes, containing the prestigious Kaiserring of Golsar (2004).
She was professor for Visual Culture Studies from 1992-2010 at UDK-Berlin and is also guest professor at many international universities.