Erika Harrsch: Inverted Sky
Erika Harrsch's solo show transforms ArtGate Gallery into a laboratory for thought on the joys and challenges that emerge from the intertwining of our lives in one global community. The thought-provoking installations, kites, entomological boxes, and paintings of Inverted Sky create a weave of intersecting perspectives: lives of individuals in nature, scientific calculation, commerce and trade, and questions of global ethics.
The exhibition invites the spectator to reflect, as the animated fluttering of paper butterflies in the installation Cashcube beckon viewers inside to witness species of currency butterflies. Some of these monetized butterflies are pinned etymologically as extinct specimens ready for inspection. Others migrate across paintings, sometimes freely and unpredictably, at other times suffering from the effects of economic choices on the natural environment. Harrsch invites us to consider how our lives are enmeshed in relations of interdependency.
The artworks in this exhibition depict a weave of parallel paths and interdependent dimensions that open up alternative outcomes in the search for new utopias. Will the precision of scientific objectification finally pin unique individuals into lifelessness? Both the strength of a surrealist-like humor and the brilliantly colored species of butterfly-currencies suggest otherwise: nature and its interdependent individuals, no matter how much late-modern technicians predict, measure, and manage.
The professional grade etymological butterfly boxes containing extinct European currencies -- Papilionnumismia Ephemerae Europeae -- are surely sites of reflection. Delicate and free flutterings of fragile living individuals may yet create a promising inversion, where unreachable, cloud-like imaginings float down to earth and transform a commodified environment back into an incarnate atmosphere open to creativity. In the new painting Twist, butterflies maneuver in an openness of air with uncharted possibilities. The sky is alive and there is an inversion at play.
Inverted Sky suggests a turning over of conventions and norms. Yet, exactly which inversions will emerge – and from what sources -- remains a question. On the one hand, the painting Melt shows a volcanic eruption, where the natural environment spews dust and smoke enough to paralyze a whole continent of finely-engineered aircraft. Nearby, wayward technologies spill oil. Both dust and oil cannot be separated from rivers and blood streams, visible in nearby parts of the composition. As the painting Pump suggests, the spell of spirals exists in the same world that displays ink-like splashes of petroleum sludge. Harrsch invites each viewer to palpitate and ponder the pathways that are now unfolding for us. . She subverts easy stereotypes and leads viewers to the work of questioning, without imposing closure or set answers.
Harrsch's oeuvre confronts pressing issue with spirited and compelling directness. The exhibition includes a whimsical sixteen-foot Dragon Kite, where fabric of spinnaker nylon displays an image of Mao enlarged from fragments of Chinese currency. The Dragon and the US Currency Kites premiering at ArtGate Gallery will fly prodigiously the financial center of Manhattan, at the River-to-River festival, in June of this year.
- ArtGate Gallery Press realease