Half awake, you hear the wind slapping the leaves that sneaks through the open window. Or is it the sound of rolling waves in the distance? Not sure. You receive a last wet and salty blow in the face just before closing the window and look out. The stormy wind is sweeping the seascape, recalling multisensorial ancient memories, in a never-ending incandescent flow, like the amber shards loaded with the past, constantly reemerging from the watery depths.
Jeschkelanger, the artist duo formed in 2016 by Marie Jeschke and Anja Langer, deploys their works as “studies on glass” (Etüden auf Glas) out of a daily matter practice and a highly corporeal involvement. Augmented glass plates, enriched on both side with raw materials, objects, engravings, pigments, fluids and other mucus, populate the exhibition space. With all their soft and sensual qualities, these are fragile tables with razor sharp irregularities with angles sometimes protected with padded or taped frames and words. The adhesion of other bodies (Fremdkörper) seems somehow perilous and results in delicate residual conglomerates. Jeschkelanger uses this unpredictable surface as a unit for gestures and intentions, a pooling site to rehearse a being-together. The two-sided glazed partition offers a double surface to work on. So, as they work, they see each other through. Through the eye hole(1)… used to be said. One can window-gaze and always dive in this image-world (2). See through, go through, like air and sunrays slipping through the cracks.
The windows of Jeschkelanger are left open. As it is meant to observe in the works named Airing (intense cross ventilation), crystallized in this in-between, a slightly-opened state. The windows that were once supposed to define the domestic space by protecting its inhabitants, keeping the other and nature at a distance, however, allowed the sight. The interior could only partially be guessed by an outside viewer. Passage between the interior and the exterior, between you and me, this glass interface is here left permanently ajar. The picture-window has now a frozen tilt mechanism, a leak, and if one would try to close it, it would simply shatter. The reversibility of the primary function of windows is also sought in the works Windows. Made out of used fur coats, the usually internal invisible layer is stretched out, framed and exposed in plain sight, nude. Both series of works, displayed back to back or face to face, make it possible to extrapolate the penetration of the wall. Wind eyes(1). Thus, they underline the insufficiency of the dichotomies open-close, interior-exterior, transparent-opaque, familiar-stranger and maybe nature-culture.
From the exposure of the inside out in Jeschkelanger’s works, with their reflection and corporeal imprints, arises a kind of superimposed self-portrait, apparent in the works smokey eyes (,too)or mirrorsand in which the viewer’s gaze reflects. In 1895, Anna Bertha Röntgen’s x-rayed hand image was published together with the announcement of the invention of this “new form of transparency”. This famous uncovered hand adorned with its wedding ring in a shady skin halo was intended to prove technical prowess, but made a sensational entry into the public sphere. These kinds of hazy portraits became the attraction of the new century, inspired poems or substituted love letters (3). The tiny glass plates had extended the imaginary of popular culture. It had penetrated intimacy in a way never explored before, by giving access to the underside of the skin, with hopes of reaching the depths of the human body. It satisfied a certain common obsession for the transparency of bodies, which coincided with other recent revelations such as psychoanalysis and bacteriology. Medical imaging was then dominated by x-ray photographic plates or the petri dishes, chasing the unseen components and invisible occupants of our constitution.
Accompanying the mutations brought by this new ability to map health, Modern architecture adapted with the renewed consideration on the body and it’s direct environment. The inverted body. If x-rays were piercing the flesh, architecture was opening its interior spaces. The screen, the shadows, the invisible walls or this intensive wish to “look through” were some of the logics borrowed from x-ray images. “Glass is called on to simulate transparency.” (4) Left in legacy, these forms are to be found in the large bay windows of sanatorium, glass skyscrapers, industrial buildings and the most contemporary habitats. And we pursue this craving for transparency, while being well settled at home we reach, through a few apps on a screen, our own medical and personal decrypted data, like the analysis of genes or menstrual cycles. “An architecture is established that inverted the classical relationships between inside and outside, an architecture we still live in today with our countless screens monitoring endless invisible flow“. (5)
Jeschkelanger’s glass elements are architectural parts, like the pores of the skin. As “floating technical surface” (4), these windows open, extend, reverse or replicate the space. During the process, the glass also operates as a “contact zone” (6) to connect the practices of Marie Jeschke and Anja Langer. Engaged in a duo practice since 2016, Jeschkelanger is based on the principle of the collective as a dialogical process and of self-empowerment. Yet they regularly integrate other guests and explore other formats of co-creation, questioning that way the production chain of artworks and the pre-defined usual roles of creators. In the other project Basis Rho, “A New Translucent Material For Architectural Surfaces”(7) , mouth-blown glass shards – actual leftovers offcuts of other artist’s works – are recycled and inlaid into plates of concrete. The construction material is made out of combined, used and reused gestures and intentions, to infuse light sparkles and a glassy depth in space. While with the serial work empty_glass, guests are invited to take part to a dinner and to eventually leave their traces. Conceived together with the Chef Hayk Seirig, the dishes are to be served directly on long glass tables. At the end of the evening, the plates, marked by the rests of the dinner and the discussions, are meant to be preserved and exposed, as “protocols”. When they borrow the fur coats of their mothers, grand-mothers and other female relatives, they convey also shared similar histories, habits and intimacies. Like the many parts of the inner seams side, they are interlaced in this final image, transporting with them a certain vision of womanhood.
In its linguistic interpretation (8), the “contact zone” refers to the phenomenon of two languages meeting – that can also happen in an inequitable confrontation – and leading to a more complex entity. Considering it as an open source and malleable material, taken inside the loop of an infinite research, we empathize here this notion as a common ground for dynamic discussions, bringing distinguished elements to a melting point. The “contact zone” is then apprehended in its dialogic dimension but always relates to something wider as to create “new models of shared authorship aesthetics.”(9) It speaks for a constellation of connections, with the companions and their histories, with the materials and their properties, with the spaces we live in. Through the works and by effects of inversions and extrapolations, Jeschkelanger annihilates the usual borders and keep the window slightly opened to give place to a new form of shared intimacy : the collective one and its vibrant fluxes. Jeschkelanger’s work might well be seen as the stills of a contact zone in perpetual motion, the x-ray intimate portrait of the collective thoughts and acts, constantly looping.
Text by Marie DuPasquier