Brigitte Kowanz, Morsealphabet, 1998/2010 Courtesy Häusler Contemporary, München/Zürich; Galerie Krobath, Wien/Berlin; RUZICSKA, Salzburg Foto: Ulrich Ghezzi

From 17 December 2011 to 26 February 2012 – Galerie im Taxispalais – Galerie des Landes Tirol

Brigitte Kowanz, who was awarded the Grand Austrian State Prize in 2009, is unique among the artists of recent years. The medium of light has been central to her artworks since the 1980s. She investigates light by combining it with signs, codes and language, accentuating how essential light – an ephemeral substance – is to our perception system. In addition to her artworks for public spaces, conceptual but with an air of poetry, the objects and installations she creates apply the same illumination to the mechanisms of speech. She consistently includes real mirrors in this reciprocal mirroring of light and language; in her installations, reality and the virtual mirror image interpenetrate, and the boundary between the artwork and the observer becomes fluid. The light-and-mirror installations and shadow spaces presented in the exhibition in light of light range from artworks from the late 1990s to more recent artwork cycles. Each room presents a different aspect of Kowanz’s artistic philosophy – both of its form and of its content.

Brigitte Kowanz, Central Idea, 2010 Courtesy Häusler Contemporary, München/Zürich; Galerie Krobath, Wien/Berlin; RUZICSKA, Salzburg Foto: Wolfgang Woessner

he installations, which are specially designed for each individual gallery room, are concerned with the interrelations between light, language and reflection, and with the polarity of matter and light. These two elements interact in multifarious ways that also involve the observer. Brigitte Kowanz’s conceptual work is based on an abstract, philosophical thought system supported by scientific and technological insight, but extraordinary sensual qualities and an intense atmosphere characterise this thought system’s expression in each of her individual artworks, each space installation.
The extensive mirror installation Tiefenraum (2011) transforms the exhibition space into a mirror cabinet that visitors can enter. The two mirrored opposing walls open up the real space to create a space of endless depth, in which viewers encounter themselves multiple times as the states of observing and of being observed coincide. This disrupts the boundaries of the three-dimensional, architectonic real space: reality is undermined by the virtual dimension. In the installations Zeittiefe (1997) and Lux (1998), Kowanz again uses light-and-shadow projections to create imaginary transference spaces that appear magical. Transparent shaded areas created by projections create architecture that one can walk around in. They surround viewers, making new and different sensory experiences available.
The exhibition also features three early illuminated lettering artworks, in which Kowanz references DNA code. In Discs, the most recent artwork featured in the exhibition, Kowanz creates fascinating spatial illusions by applying the rhythm of Morse code to light and shadows. Kowanz’s evocative artworks spring from the complex interplay of the elements of light and shadow, projections and reflections and nullify spatial boundaries, creating new, virtual spaces.

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