Throughout DAS INSTITUT’s latest self-titled show, currently at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, the body is suggested, performed, dissected and expanded by the imaginative layering of Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder’s practices.
Upon entering, the viewer is confronted by the flickering lights of Röder’s COMCORRÖDER Breast (2010–15), a colorful breast-shaped neon sculpture that rhythmically composes and decomposes its own contours. The space is filled with clashing stimuli extending from ubiquitous locations; any sense of direction is confounded. This spatial approach creates an escalating intensity between objects and perceptions, allowing a deeper understanding of the compositional games employed by the duo.
Working collaboratively since 2007 as DAS INSTITUT, Brätsch utilizes painting to question how a body can manifest and represent itself, while Röder employs an artistic vocabulary comprised of light, physical presences and textiles. The pair’s output is an attempt to playfully explore the limits of agency and artistic control through an unconventional attitude that attempts to express emotionally subjective and difficult-to-define elements of life.
The buoyant mixture of individual and collaborative pieces also includes a few outside contributions. Flame Creatures (2015) by artist friend Sergei Tcherepnin sets the rhythm of one of the central rooms, where North Tomb (2016) is a juxtaposition of Röder’s Deep Sleep (2010–15) neon pieces and Brätsch’s suspended “KAYA Mylars” (2015) oil paintings. Allison Katz’s dismembered portrait of Brätsch and Röder, Exhumation Table (2016), fills a number of Plexiglas boxes. The show casts the viewer as a fundamental participant of this idiosyncratic creative process, her presence looped back in the infinite construction and destruction of a unique context. As soon as I left the gallery, I wanted to be re-immersed in the show again and again.