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Elastic bands, curtain rods, a cast-off fur tie - Andrea von Lüdinghausen does not require much to sharpen our awareness of the poetic potential of a world which reveals its allure through startling juxtapositions of everyday material. And yet her recent work maintains a fragile balance, displaying a provisional and improvised character which emphasizes the mere possibility of form within sculpture. Whether spindly bundles of small transparent rods of various lengths entwined with silver-grey strips of mink fur, or levitating constructions of bent curtain wands with animal furs stretched between them, von Lüdinghausen’s objects always elude a final specification. They remain unstable, whether hanging, leaning, or free-standing.


The latent vulnerability of the pieces is owed not least to the deliberately unsophisticated use of material which reveals, instead, what holds them together. This is as simple as it is austere. Elastic bands, plasticine, and cable ties, and sometimes a strong magnet as well, create movable joints, functioning like flexible cartilage and tendons on the stiff skeletons of the sculptured bodies, while the fur adds the softness of skin and hair. 

The resulting corporeality of the works is reminiscent of the post-minimalist art of Eva Hesse, who shares with von Lüdinghausen a dislike of harmony, of the all too beautiful, and of the polished decorative. The elegance of the furs and skins is drastically constricted, and the crystalline form of the sparingly applied glass elements contrasted with the formlessness of the plasticine. The glossy surface of the curtain rods is partially wrapped with split and disheveled hair extensions, which make a pitiful impression. It is the inadequacy of the body and its transience, always threatened with dissolution, that interests the artist. In fact, her minimalist models can be associated in many ways with the memento mori leitmotif.


Von Lüdinghausen’s artistic vocabulary has been fed since the mid-1990s by a constantly-growing archive of medicinal and biological illustrations, as well as by a collection of anatomical sketches which document cross-sections of the organism in precise and schematic drawings. At first sight her sculptural working procedures appear to be related to a strategy which seeks form in fragmentation and dissection. But in fact, her system of references is much more complex. Her drawings, which serve as sketches for possible sculptures, coalesce with experimental fields on mood boards of peculiar beauty. They betray an intriguing affinity with the portrait drawings of Hans Holbein the Younger, whose Renaissance works are admired by the artist. Both display a combination of contour and fleshy surface, line and compression, rough sketch and meticulous detail, mirroring the idea of a dualism, held by von Lüdinghausen’s work in the tension between construction and deconstruction.


Although her latest set of works corresponds to the traditional concept of sculpture, they are in fact modifiable to suit any environment. Spatial interventions, and reactions to the contexts and architectural features of exhibitions, the manipulation of which irritates the viewer and shifts their perception in atmospheric and phenomenological terms, are of crucial importance in von Lüdinghausen’s work. In recent years her approach has frequently revolved around the motifs of animality and the creaturely, as can be seen in her installation Ground Contact in Göttingen’s Central Station (2007), the project „Mind the Park“ in the public spaces of Hannover (2009), or the group exhibition „People who Work Nearby“ in the empty hall of a disused supermarket (2012).


The question of how to deal with the savage and the alien, their exploration, taming, repression, and staging, as hinted at in the latest fur sculptures, is not only of social relevance. It is also relevant to the unknown within ourselves, and its virulence is explained by the fact that it cannot be exhaustively answered.


Kristina Tieke about the sculptural work of Andrea von Lüdinghausen, 2013, Translation: Gerhard Grotjahn-Pape, Ian Jennings, Ronald Voulliè

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