Christina Lehnert — Catalogue text on the exhibition „Afterglow“
1822-Forum, Frankfurt am Main, 2019
After visiting the studio of the artist Jennifer Bannert, you suddenly seem to notice more: reflections in the puddles on the street or the flash of a reflected beam of light through a moving window. Phenomena that happen in one moment and disappear again in the next, or immediately seem different.
Jennifer Bannert’s works in her exhibition afterglow elicit a similar phenomenon. Something seems to emerge from the monochrome darkness of the coarse canvases; color is banished and abstracted behind semi-opaque veils. Your eyes leap from one color tone to thenext, to the front and back. As soon as you think you have detected something, the achievement blurs into a fleeting moment. The colors are seldom bright; they are dark and heavy. The brighter patches of color are like lights that, like glimmers of hope, appear momentarily in the dark.
The paintings are not mere abstractions of objects; they do not fulfill a mimetic purpose. Maybe, instead, Jennifer Bannert’s works represent that moment before you recognize something. What if the paintings, which are also related to the artist’s photographs, wanted to capture the recognition process itself? What if they evoke a state of limbo that contains not just what is portrayed, but also the moment of reception, or the viewer’s search? Many moments in the artist’s work are like looking at an oil film on a puddle that a photograph would capture in just one state – they are just as ephemeral. Although they meet all the requirements of one view – frame, canvas and color – they seem to elude one state.
In the photographic work afterglow, after which the exhibition is named, Jennifer Bannert also combines uncertainty and openness. The searching eye repeats itself in the close-up shots of the fish skins. The naïve idea that apparent closeness could get us to the bottom of things is immediately refuted by the alternating observational modes of knowing and rejecting: What is represented? The surface of the earth, the film of oil on the street, or the magnification of a human hand? Like sgraffito, cracks of apparent injuries penetrate the fish skin and express its delicacy. They show the vitality of the material and, in their beauty and vulnerability, awaken a strange compassion if one is aware of their origin.
Focus and blurring, light and darkness as well as micro and macro perspectives are tools and themes of the paintings and photographs that not only make recognition difficult, but also enable a multitude of insights. Looking at Jennifer Bannert’s work, one inevitably asks: Is there actually one correct distance to everything?