Laurence Aëgerter at Machinery of Me
Night Hunt (Wilde Sau, Zahme Sau)
March 8 – July 26 2020
Solo exhibition at Machinery of Me, Arnhem (NL)
Curated by Rieke Righolt en Maarten Verweij
For Night Hunt (Wilde Sau, Zahme Sau), Laurence Aëgerter had conducted a research on young German women who lived and worked at the airbase during World War II, where Machinery of Me is located now. She made two spatial installations based on her research. One part of the exhibition is a space-filling installation that transforms the former boiler room and creates a penetrating experience for the visitor. A large-sized tapestry that reacts to light was created using a complex and barely used nowadays weaving technique and was carried out in the Textiellab of Textielmuseum Tilburg.
Machinery of Me also organized a multidisciplinary public program at the exhibition in which history and current events come together.
The work Diogenes is a monumental (450 x 600 cm) semi-transparent jacquard woven tapestry that includes monofil and phosphorescent yarns. The tapetry changes in colour according to the brightness of the space. Colours in the tapestry change from grey, to blue to fluorescent pink.
The history of the ‘Diogenes’ bunker in Arnhem (NL) and the many young German women who worked in it during the Second World War is at the starting point of this work. Aëgerter researched a large amount of local archive footage about the bunker and the life and work of the so-called ‘Blitzmädel’.
In the dark bunker these young women worked day and night to hunt down allied planes and bombers. In the middle of the bunker was hanging a huge transparent map defining the operational area with country contours and a grid with letter codes. The young ‘Blitzmädchen’ indicated the position of the enemy planes from a grandstand by shining spotlights on the transparent map. On the other side of the map the officers could make strategic decisions and organise the 24/7 hunt for the Allied aircraft.
This extraordinary historical setting gave rise to the monumental, semi-transparent tapestry Diogenes. One experiences how the exploded metallic carcass of the bunker’s twisted stand and the superimposed grid with numbers and letter codes reacts in layers to different lightings. During a short interval a ballet of searching spotlights extinguishes to finally blend into a hypnotic starry sky.
The work however raises also more universal questions than just the reference to this historical story.
It’s quality lied in the strong image analysis and the ability to give (historical) photographic material renewed relevance. The result is a layered image with a strong visual and substantive eloquence.