Fair: Art Basel 2023, Basel
Art Basel, Basel
with Agnes Scherer
For its first participation in Art Basel, Sans titre presents the work of German artist Agnes Scherer.
Created specifically for the fair, the work - a monumental painted sculpture representing a giant laptop computer - is a continuation of a series the artist conceived for her solo exhibition The Notebook Simulations, curated by Eva Birkenstock at the The Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2021).
Agnes Scherer’s work develops unique forms of presentation which bring together paintings and handmade artifacts, generating large-scale and holistic installations. Scherer thus creates complex pictorial work that resists immediate objectification and commodification, instead demanding from viewers a heightened level of focus and engagement. Throughout her artistic practice, she interrogates power relations and their underlying psychologies. Drawing from analyses of art history, anthropology, and cultural history, Scherer subverts artistic strategies that originally served the consolidation of power. Using anachronisms and representation of universally known symbols, her work often illustrates the uncanny ways in which historical systems, economies, and societal roles are reflected in the present.
Presented at Sans titre’s booth at Art Basel 2023, the flat screen of Scherer’s oversized laptop sculpture becomes a theatre stage, on which computer windows resembling paintings are pushed around by angels. As in other works by Scherer, the angels act as inscrutable cosmic controllers of fate, turning humans and their concerns into objects in a volatile puppet show.
A painting of the artist catching a shooting star is cleared from the stage. A painted jpeg on the right echoes a famous Renaissance woodcut depicting a mysterious cosmic event over the city of Basel - the apocryphal “stars of Basel.” This latter laptop painting, like those that preceded it, combines elements of “contemporary folklore,” which often originates in a digital space, with historical and timeless myths. Among other things, Scherers notebook series playfully references the 16th-century gouache collection of the Augsburg Wunderzeichenbuch (The Book of Miracles), in which natural phenomena are depicted as omens or premonitions. Here, Scherer likens miraculous occurrences like will-o’-the-wisps and inexplicable cosmic phenomena with error messages that appear out of nowhere from the Windows operating system.
The formal playfulness of Sherer’s diptych-like monumental laptop belies the gravity of the questions it raises about the oracular role the computer plays in the lives of its users, becoming a singular locus of hope and desire for redemption.
Agnes Scherer (born in 1985, Germany) lives and works in Salzburg and Berlin. She studied painting at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf with Peter Doig and Enrico David.
Selected solo shows include ‘Savoir Vivre’ at Heidelberger Kunstverein (2023); ‘A thousand times yes’ at Sans titre, Paris (2022); ‘Fancies’ at PAGE (NYC), New York (2022); ‘The Notebook Simulations’ at Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Dusseldorf (2021); ‘My refuge, my treasure, without body, without measure’ at ChertLüdde, Berlin (2021); ‘Coeurs Simples’ at Sans titre, Paris (2020); ‘ORLANDO TUSSAUD’ at Philipp Haverkampf, Berlin (2019).
Agnes Scherer’s first operetta “Cupid and the Animals”, was awarded the Nigel Greenwood Art Prize in 2015 and performed in, among other places, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne (2017) and TRAMPS in New York (2018). In 2019, her second elaborate work within this format, “The Teacher”, was presented by Kinderhook & Caracas in Berlin, at Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich (2020) and recently in Italy for the festival ART CITY Bologna (2023). Also in 2020, Scherer presented the first part of her third operetta project “The Salty Testament” at 1646 in The Hague. The artist’s narrative installation “The Very Hungry” at the Berlin project space Horse & Pony was granted the Berlin Art Prize (2019).
Agnes Scherer’s works are featured in the permanent collections of important institutions and museums, including FRAC Champagne-Ardenne; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; KOLUMBA Museum, Cologne and Kunsthaus NRW Kornelimünster in Aachen.