Gerry Bibby at Kunsthaus Hamburg

In the context of the exhibition
LO(L) – Embodied Language

The artistic work of Gerry Bibby (*1977, lives and works in Berlin) defies classification into rigid categories. His sculptures and installations also comprise performative elements and own texts. He has adopted elements of concrete poetry to describe the translation process of a text into the sculptural medium of concrete. He addresses topics like the rights of the LGBTQ community or the socio-economic conditions underlying the creation of contemporary artworks, to combine them with an implicit critique of capitalism.

The works featured at Kunsthaus Hamburg were originally created for the Busan Biennale (2020). However, due to pandemic restrictions, Bibby himself was unable to enter Korea. Visions of Excess refers to the eponymous writings by the French author, Georges Bataille, and consists of an exploration of how to be present without being physically present. The possibilities of interaction offered by modern technologies are investigated, as are the limits of the experience of space and physical proximity.

For the Busan Biennale 2020, Bibby had made various wooden stair elements. Once they were ready to be shipped, Bibby filled the empty spaces in the transport crate with a concrete mixture. This, in turn, created five sculptures, those now dispersed throughout the exhibition hall at the Kunsthaus Hamburg like smashed asteroids. As negative prints of the wooden works, they also serve to visualize the filling material of the container. While the works were on their way to Busan, Bibby wrote five texts attributed to the sculptures still unknown to him at the time. He then coordinated the unpacking of the works via video call and was thus able to be part of the action. Distortion, Transit and Verfremdungseffekt (2020) refer to processes of communication and movement, including the changes, distortions and interstices arising as a result of these processes. In the texts, he links biographical anecdotes with his thoughts on spatiality and corporeality.

For the accompanying sound performance Vision of Excess 13. In Concert (2020), Bibby had engaged the German-Korean artist Ellen Yeon Kim who moved through Busan as his physical double. Using a tracking system, Bibby followed her virtual trail, thus referring to the digital surveillance by the state, which has been applied increasingly in South Korea since the pandemic. Recorded with a smartphone, an auditory city walk through the port metropolis was created. The whirring of the hotel lift, underground announcements, the beeping at the supermarket checkout: these are characteristic sounds of the big city that, both locally anchored and internationally understandable, have become, as it were, the universal codes of our everyday technologies. Embedded in the audio recording are his five texts, read by selected people from the queer community in Busan. In this way, a voice has been given people who were exposed to increasing discrimination in the course of the Corona pandemic.  For the port city of Hamburg, Bibby is developing new recording of this sound performance with local actors.

All texts from Gerry Bibby can be downloaded here.