Organism Response: An Installation by David Olbrich

05.12.2015 to 03.04.2016
Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg

The Nationalgalerie is showing the Berlin artist David Olbrich's spatial installation “Organism Response" in the Sahurê-Saal of the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg. Based, on the one hand, on the mechanically produced sounds of the wooden bass pipes of an organ, and the organic noises of animals on the other, Olbrich has staged a sonic landscape with performative elements in the hall of the mounted division of the German Federal Police in Berlin-Grunewald. Images and sound as well as a number of objects from this production have now been transferred to the premises of the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg, creating a double relation to the collection.

If the curious interaction of the mechanical and the organic in his work seems to reference the maxims of Surrealism which form the hematic core of the permanent collection, its animal actors remind us of the history of the building that houses the collection. Built in the mid-19thcentury for the mounted Garde du Corps of the Charlottenburg Palace, during the time of the Weimar Republic these buildings were in the service of the police: in the western Stüler building, which today houses the Museum Berggruen, a police school was set up (which during the Third Reich became a school for SS officers), while in the eastern Stüler building and the adjoining stables (which today house the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg) the police fleet was housed.

A central theme of David Olbrich's work is the question of the “great order" as it is found in God's divine plan of creation, but also in regulations and conventions, or in the dream of totalising standards and norms. As a schema of communication and a system of orientation, they grant us assistance and protection, as a normalising system or set formula however, they can also obstruct our view of the essential.

For this reason, the artist has chosen the “path from the determinate to the indeterminate" (Olbrich). Typical configurations of seeing and hearing are mixed up and rearranged into new relationships. Individual noises and composed sound sequences blend into and over one another, and things happen which are difficult to explain. The hatching noises of a queen bee can be heard, along with Faust's monologue in a “delightful neighbourhood"; we perceive isolated, falling organ pipes, and over and over that nervous horse. Domesticated and placed in the service of the (police) system, it is at the same time the knowledge-free animal, the very concept of “unspoiled human impulse" (Olbrich), which takes the stage, free of all artistic ambition.

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