MATRIX, 2011 | ink + collage on paper
Anita Groener’s work explores questions around the dual perspectives of home and displacement within modern geopolitical realities. Groener’s Dutch origins are referenced, as she attempts to reconcile themes that relate to location, anonymity, individuality, and her relationship with her surroundings. Meaning is constructed in Groener’s work through interrogating ideas and exploring interaction and interdependency, in an historical and metaphysical context.
Groener’s extraordinarily detailed casein drawings typically contain over 30,000 individual marks, and are heavily informed by the formalist structure of the grid. Following a residency in the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation USA, 2010, Groener explored the significance of Anni Albers’ grid-based modernist works. This visual structure comprised of interconnecting points and lines, is a symbol of containment and control. Used as a Modernist formal trope - a perceptual screen from the real world, Groener continues a dialogue on the dichotomy between abstraction and representation. In Des Espaces Autres, Michel Foucault states: “… our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein.” Groener’s work incites a visual and conceptual experience of containment, through rupturing and corrupting the structure, every mark distinguished by an idiosyncratic human touch. The configuration becomes a structure to explore realities of intolerance, both at a local level and globally, resulting in work that focuses on the impact this has on the individual.
The semantic construction of the drawings appear as if observing from a great distance, placing emphasis on the individual obscured in a crowd, so it becomes difficult to discern detail or representation. Upon closer inspection however, minute figures emerge, dislocated and lost, uncertain and untethered in the larger field of dots. In Mob, the grid of marks becomes a vast field of bodies, as faces taken from media sources begin to appear, lost in a liminal space that reflects the unpredictable developments of economic, political and cultural landscapes. Groener’s practice referenced Hieronymous Bosch’s work in the 1980’s, and she references his work again in this current exhibition. Through altering reproductions of Bosch’s work by punching out the faces from his paintings, she raises questions about identity, history and mankinds’ legacy. Faces from Bosch’s works and many recognizable portraits from the art historical cannon are reconfigured in a constellation of dots to create a new piece, Witness, that refuses to contextualize the choices of characters who have borne witness to events throughout history.
There is an inherent dichotomy behind ‘The Narcissism of Minor Differences’, a term coined by Sigmund Freud. What makes us individual is that we differ from others, that we are unique. This difference also makes us prone to intolerance, in particular to small differences. Thematically, the subject of conflict appears in Groener’s work, titles such as Mob, Land, Maneuver, and Piaffe echo this concern, and evoke swarms of people, territorial and nationalistic tendencies, and directly references equine military positions. Land is synonymous with territory, it invariably accompanies war yet suggests freedom and implies a sense of place. This duplicity inherent in Groener’s practice is considered and manifested in the language, economies and strategies of drawing and it’s expanded field. The dialectic nature of her work allows for deep appreciation, simultaneously understanding the inherent meanings beyond the façade of the aesthetically beautiful pieces.