Natascha Sadr Haghighian | Die Krankheiten des Uhus und ihre Bedeutung für die Wiedereinbürgerung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
KÖNIG GALERIE | Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz | 5.4.–17.5.2003
Press Release:

From April 5 to May 17 2003, KÖNIG GALERIE will be presenting Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s first solo exhibition.

On entering the art gallery, a sound will be “attached” to the visitor: apparently the sound of a fluttering bird. The attachment does not coincide with the visitor’s movements though, but circles the room aimlessly and increasingly panic-stricken, even crashes into the windowpanes now and again. Although the sound moves more or less independently from the visitor, it only stays active as long as he or she stays in the gallery. It stops as soon as the visitor leaves. Whenever a new visitor enters, a sound is attached to them. So if there are 30 people in the room, there will be in all probability a massive sound movement that can only be influenced by people leaving the room.

For the installation, the doors will be equipped with sensors that will start and stop the sounds. The digitally enhanced sound-loops will be distributed through a PA system with eight speakers controlled by a software patch.

The principles of in- and exclusion have always been part of Natascha SadrHaghighian’s work. Her installations constantly take up political, social or cultural isolation. “The making of islands” (2001) showed a garbage bag hanging from the ceiling, lit up by pursuing club spotlights. When the visitors stepped onto a glass plate lying below the plastic bag, they could hear the pursuing sounds out of the black utensil. For the project “present but not yet active” (2002) at last year’s Manifesta in Frankfurt/Main Haghighian invited the responsible curators to the Frankfurt zoo and filmed them in front of the tiger’s enclosure. The tiger itself is hardly ever visible, so the conception or staging of freedom is the main attraction, and this particular enclosure becomes a backdrop for contemporary curating practice. In her exhibition in this gallery the artist also imitates the contradictory spaces of modern zoos, which supposedly protect endangered species and create semi-natural environments. Her starting-point is Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds”:

“When Melanie is locked up in the attic with the murderous birds we inserted the natural sounds of wings, but we stylized them so as to create greater intensity. We wanted to get a menacing wave of vibration rather than a single level. Of course, I took the dramatic license of not having the birds scream at all. To de-scribe a sound accurately, one has to imagine its equivalent in dialogue. What I wanted to get in that attack is as if the birds were telling Melanie, Now we’ve got you where we want you. Here we come. We don’t have to scream in triumph or in anger. This is going to be a silent murder. That’s what the birds were say-ing, and we got the technicians to achieve that effect through electronic sound.”(Alfred Hitchcock talking to François Truffaut).

For the exhibition, titled “The horned owl’s diseases and their significance for its re-naturalisation in the Federal Republic of Germany”, the gallery itself remains empty. The exhibits attached birds constantly try to flee the White Cube; but they are tied to the visitors, who give presence to the exhibition by their presence alone. Thus the gallery becomes a space where claims of freedom clash with pre-determined behavioural patterns.