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Iris Eichenberg: New Rooms

Exhibition  /  10 Jan 2009  -  19 Feb 2009
Published: 26.01.2009
Galerie Louise Smit
Management:
Louise Smit
Iris Eichenberg. Necklace: New Rooms 2008.02, 2008. hout | leer | email | staal | messing. 11.9 x 9.4 x 5.4 cm. Iris Eichenberg
Necklace: New Rooms 2008.02, 2008
hout | leer | email | staal | messing
11.9 x 9.4 x 5.4 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
(...) New Rooms, the first show of Iris Eichenberg's work to be completed in her new country of residence, the United States, represents such an encounter of/with strangeness, alienation, while at the same time suggesting the possibility of comfort, the enclosure, the familiarity of hominess. (...)

Artist list

Iris Eichenberg
New Rooms

When one walks into a new room, one generally feels like a stranger: either the room is one one has never entered before, or, one has, but the collected company is new, and it makes one feel selfconscious, out of place, alien. New Rooms, the first show of Iris Eichenberg's work to be completed in her new country of residence, the United States, and from within her new position as Artist in Residence/Head of the Metals Department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, represents such an encounter of/with strangeness, alienation, while at the same time suggesting the possibility of comfort, the enclosure, the familiarity of hominess.
New rooms are usually ones that one expects or anticipates to move into, that one needs to make one's own, transform into a new home. But before one can actually feel at home in new rooms, one needs to explore them: their layout, their shape, but also all the little details that will only gradually reveal themselves, the nooks and crannies, the colors and textures, the way the light falls, the smells, the myriad of sensual and perceptual aspects that eventually might come to feel as an enveloping environment, as a spatiotemporal plane that will give new shape and new meaning to one's self. Moving into a new room, parts of one's self will be gingerly attaching themselves to our new surroundings, investing the materiality of surfaces, objects, and shapes with new significance-creating interiors in the exteriority of three-dimensional space.
In a sense, New Rooms is Iris Eichenberg's most subdued series of work to date. Despite the uncharacteristic colorfulness-we find the most unusual combinations of bright oranges, greens, browns, and yellows-of the recurring forms and shapes that configure into complex, composite pieces, the surfaces and edges are smooth, polished, inviting us to touch, handle, stroke, and fondle them.
There is a certain playfulness, lightheartedness almost, to these pieces: they indulge in their own shapeliness, their reassuring tactility and sensuality, but what they enact is a serious form of play.
Playing around with the essence or character of form, Eichenberg forces us to think about the ways in which material space and objective form interact with human character and subjective form. If these pieces-necklaces, brooches, chatelaines-can be seen as three-dimensional actualizations, rather than as representations or reflections-of the interiors of houses, of the insides of (new) rooms, they are, at the same time, the exteriorizations of the people, the individuals who inhabit them. Blurring the boundaries between inside and outside, between interior and exterior, a steel plate, suggesting the floor plan of a house, literally bleeds into an uneven oval shape-a recurring form in Eichenberg's work, at once suggesting the irreducible uniqueness of an individual's personality, and her/his implication in structures of kinship, of social relations.
Materials and spaces, it would appear, do not only have personalities of their own: although we tend to think that we create our own surroundings, that we arrange our living rooms, assemble furniture and objects, pick the colors and the fabrics, that we hope will best express ourselves, that will make us feel at home, and that we force upon new rooms in order to conquer their foreignness, surmount their strangeness, these very materials and spaces invade the interiors of our selves, they transform us, may change even our deepest felt sense of taste and style. Reminiscent of popular domestic interiors styles of the 1950s through the 1970s, with their shifting emphases on and combinations of natural materials, such as wood, steel, and leather, and such “modern” alternatives as plastics and veneer, these works suggest an exploration and, ultimately, an embrace of foreign styles, materials, and techniques, not only in relation to the actual geographical, sociocultural, and domestic spaces Eichenberg moved into by coming to the US, but also in terms of her artistic practice, attesting to a growing respect, perhaps even love, for traditional skills and craftsmanship.
Eichenberg's New Rooms plays with the deceptive boundaries between inside and outside, between self and other. In many of these pieces, their interior structure, that which factually holds them together, is not hidden from our view or our touch, but emerges as a quintessential part of their overt externality, endowing the mechanics of assembling with a significance equal to that of the constituting elements and of the piece as such. Domestic interiors, which, to a large extent, form the immediate exteriors in which we both find and try to express ourselves, become externalized objects in which such ostensibly elusive phenomena as style and taste attain material form. But eventually, these forms will be worn in/on the body, forging new connections, generating new assemblages of body-objects, exteriors becoming interiorized and internalized. The cheerful colors, the inviting, tactile qualities of the polished materials, the familiarity of some of the shapes and forms of these works are ultimately deceptive, obscuring a fundamental struggle, a struggle with a cultural language, with a specific historical period, with materials, and with a sense of “foreignness.” Moving into new rooms, perhaps paradoxically, entails becoming incorporated. One of the serious questions Eichenberg's first “American” series of work hence poses concerns the meaning and implications of the inevitable interiorization of the alien and the other, and thus, the ephemerality of the familiar and the self.

Renée C. Hoogland, November 2008

Iris Eichenberg. Brooch: New Rooms 2008.01, 2008. hout | katoen | email | koper | messing. 10.8 x 10.7 x 4.2 cm. Iris Eichenberg
Brooch: New Rooms 2008.01, 2008
hout | katoen | email | koper | messing
10.8 x 10.7 x 4.2 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Iris Eichenberg. Brooch: New Rooms 2008.05, 2008. staal | enamel. 19.6 x 11.5 x 5.1 cm. Iris Eichenberg
Brooch: New Rooms 2008.05, 2008
staal | enamel
19.6 x 11.5 x 5.1 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Iris Eichenberg. Brooch: New Rooms 2008.10, 2008. hout | leer | email | koper | messing. 19.5 x 16.5 x 6.0 cm. Iris Eichenberg
Brooch: New Rooms 2008.10, 2008
hout | leer | email | koper | messing
19.5 x 16.5 x 6.0 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Iris Echenberg. Necklace: New Rooms 2008.12, 2008. hout | koper | email | staal | messing. 43.8 x 17.3 x 6.6 cm. Iris Echenberg
Necklace: New Rooms 2008.12, 2008
hout | koper | email | staal | messing
43.8 x 17.3 x 6.6 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Iris Eichenberg. Brooch: New Rooms 2008.14, 2008. hout | katoen | email | koper | messing. 18.8 x 12.0 x 4.2 cm. Iris Eichenberg
Brooch: New Rooms 2008.14, 2008
hout | katoen | email | koper | messing
18.8 x 12.0 x 4.2 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
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