Dagmar Heppner, who was born in 1977 in Hamburg, lives in Basel, and was a founding member of Schalter, presents her first solo show at Kunsthaus Baselland. Heppner’s oeuvre, which comprises both photos and installations, is marked both by an attitude reminiscent of Romanticism and a proclivity towards Minimalism when it comes to implementing her art.
The artist perceives her works as temporary arrangements whose ephemerality is part and parcel of the artistic concept. Ni fleurs, ni couronnes (Neither Flowers Nor Wreathes) alludes to instructions given in obituaries that may be construed both pragmatically and in a morbid and melancholy fashion, suggesting the gamut of emotions her works may trigger. In her exhibition design, Heppner connects two spaces usually separated from each other and, within the core of the White Cube, transgresses the categories of inside and outside. Her redeveloped space is a test setup in which viewers are confronted with things that create a distance as well as a psychologically charged environment — particularly in connection with the title — or a simple and novel way of experiencing space. Several small-format pictures complement her strictly conceptual spatial structure: a pencil-scribbled form, an old postcard depicting the sea, a photo of the moon hidden behind clouds, a photographed and bent piece of squared paper, and the picture of a head showing mostly its hair. Like individual scraps of words, Heppner’s pictures form a string, infusing the overall design with a personal flavor as well as detachment. While viewers may expect the work to provide them with information, it turns out that this does not happen. Two sculptures reminiscent of a mass of unprocessed material and a slide show involving individual pictures of film strip beginnings or ends, accumulating in everyday life as monochrome ‘waste pictures’, are also featured in the exhibition. Dagmar Heppner explores what is believed to be nothingness and by doing so, she identifies something that may turn into a picture through selection and articulation. The detachment radiating from her oeuvre is converted into an appealing closeness through her attempt at wanting nothing. The fact that her oeuvre oscillates between the poles of ‘detachment’, ‘closeness’, ‘something’, and ‘nothing’ renders it highly alluring.
Text from Sabine Schaschl