Late Checkout, a collaborative project between Anna K.E. and Florian Meisenberg, roves between paintings, drawings, prints, textiles, and videos – it is a drama of decentralization, where identities play between collaborators and context, the digital and the analog, the screen and the body. In all the work that comprises Late Checkout, there is a complicated sense of optimism and darkness: as the interfaces through which we register the world open up new universes of information, communication, and interconnectedness, they point to an ever increasing technological confinement, co-dependency, and a future nebulous self.
The paintings are derived from a literal flux. Confined to a subway car or airplane, and yet moving rapidly, K.E. and Meisenberg use a smartphone to collaborate on digital drawings. Each take their turn, adding, erasing and adapting the drawings; they then translate these handmade digital images into paintings on hotel bedsheets. With symbols from video games, portraits, and letters – sources are semi-autobiographical, in-jokes, or simply nearby – they’re diffused and reshaped by more improvised marks that are applied and shaped by an airbrush. What unites these paintings is a tension between the digital and the analog, a sense that screens are ever reproducing themselves and the content that appears and reappears upon them. But taking these collaborative images out of their timeless, spaceless, substanceless paradise, K.E. and Meisenberg have translated the digital through the limits of material and narrative, creating a very human intimacy from technologically interstitial captivity.
The viewer is most closely attached with the scarves – they are intimate mirrors which are themselves as movable as their content. K.E. and Meisenberg share a sketchbook and developed a series of eight drawings that record one another: each has drawn a portrait of the other, amongst other improvised images and reflections. The images are combined in multiple variations, translated onto silk scarves through screen printing and letterpress. It is as if K.E. and Meisenberg used the drawings like a code through which they programmed an analog algorithm: composed from the same constituent parts, each scarf is unique and non-sequential. And as scarves, there is the implication that they can be worn, taken away, symbolic of and participating in this fractured intimacy of connecting through screens and images.
All of the analog work is fluid with the three films in Late Checkout – content, materials, images, and narratives from each portion of the collaboration pervades the others. Taking place in high-rise hotel rooms, several stories above street-level, three films find K.E. and Meisenberg walled-in by the clean, generic spaces – it’s as if the semi-reflective, screen-like windows offer refuge or vacation from the bombardment of city noise and visual overflow. Meisenberg films the room, K.E. performs like part of the architecture; they are occupying classical roles of observer and muse. Yet, K.E. carries a cell phone, and, as the camera closes in for a tight crop, it reveals that the phone’s screen (through an app that links it to the camera) depicts the same image Meisenberg is recording. It affects a double-mirror: between her statuesque poses and future-fashion leotard, and his roving, faceless camera, there is the buzzing tension of communication and exchange. Did K.E. decide it was a good angle for the phone to double on itself? Or Meisenberg’s decision? Or did the accelerated proliferation of screens in public and private life paradoxically promise this accident? It seems, in their confinement, K.E. and Meisenberg can never get away from each other, and must act out certain roles as much as the films’ ubiquitous screens – phone, the LED signs of Times Square, the hotel windows and TVs – represent similar connections and their continual deferment.
Anna K.E. was born in 1986 in Tbilisi, Georgia and lives and works in New York City and Germany. Selected solo shows include: Simone Subal Gallery, New York, USA (2013); Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Germany (2013); Mannheimer Kunstverein, Mannheim, Germany (2012); Gallery Figge von Rosen, Cologne (2013) (2011); Kunstverein Leverkusen, Leverkusen, Germany (2011); Pilot Projekt, Düsseldorf (with Tamara K.E.) (2008); Schaufenster des Kunstvereins für die Rheinlande und Westphalen, Düsseldorf (2007). Selected group shows: KAI10, Quadriennale Düsseldorf, Germany; Petach Tikva Museum of Art, Israel; The Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL, USA; The III Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow, Russia (2012); Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Germany (2011); Gallery Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Germany (2010); Museum K21, Düsseldorf (2010); Young Biennale Köln 2010, Cologne (2010); Cobra Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2009); Kunstverein Ludwigshafen, Germany (2009); Neues Kunstforum Köln, Cologne, Germany (2009); Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken, Germany (2008); Gloriahalle, Düsseldorf, Germany (2008); Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund, Germany (2005); Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf , Germany (2005); Kunstverein Mönchengladbach, Germany (2005); and Museum Bochum, Germany (2004). In 2012 Hatje Cantz published Anna K.E.’s first monograph entitled A well-to-do man is cruising in his fancy car when a small hen runs out on the road in front. In 2014 she will be highlighted in two solo exhibitions, one at Gallery Figge von Rosen, Cologne, Germany, and the second at MAZ, Zapopan, Mexico.
Meisenberg was born in 1980 in Berlin and he works and lives in New York. He graduated from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 2010. Selected solo shows: Simone Subal Gallery, New York (2013, 2015); Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; Mendes Wood, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2014); Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel, Germany (2014); Kunst aus NRW / Förderpreis für Bildende Kunst, Ehemalige Reichsabtei, Aachen, Germany (2012); Wentrup Gallery, Berlin (2014)(2012); Tanja Pol, Munich, Germany (2012); Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen, Germany (2011); Kate MacGarry Gallery, London (2011); Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany (2009). Recent selected group exhibitions: Kunstpalais Erlangen, Germany; Goethe Institute, Hong Kong; Ausstellung in der Sammlung Kunst aus NRW in der ehemaligen Reichsabtei Aachen-Kornelimünster, Aachen, Germany (2014); Museum Kunsten, Aalborg, Denmark (2014); Queens Museum of Art, New York, USA (2014); Grieder Contemporary, Zurich, Switzerland (2013); Galerie Parrotta Contemporary Art, Stuttgart, Germany (2013); Boros Collection II, Berlin, Germany (2012); Avlskarl Projects, Copenhagen, Denmark (2012); Solinger Kunstmuseum, Solingen, Germany (2011); New Talents Biennale 2010, Cologne, Germany (2010); Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen, Germany (2010); Kunstverein Langenhagen, Germany (2010). In April 2014, Distanz Verlag published Meisenberg’s second monograph with the title: http://www.liveleak.com/view?l=266_1344428832.