It’s unfortunate that when we feel a storm
We can roll ourselves over when we’re uncomfortable
Oh well, the devil makes us sin
But we like it when we’re spinning in his grip
Love is like a sin, my love,
For the one that feels it the most
Look at her with a smile like a flame
She will love you like a fly will never love you
Massive Attack, Paradise Circus (2010)
Limbo is pleased to inaugurate its exhibition series with Paradise Circus, a show comprising work by Nschotschi Haslinger. Her artistic practice includes painting, sculpture, drawing and performance, all of which are interrelated through recurring motifs. Haslinger‘s paintings and drawings unfold scenarios depicting humans or human-like figures in slightly odd everyday environments or impenetrable landscapes. Using alienating strategies which draw upon the surreal and grotesque, these works refer to subject-related identity construction, transformation processes and masking. Traces of narratives may point, amongst other things, to the self-reflexive questioning of the artist’s identity or mysterious rituals. However, Haslinger’s ambiguous beings never redeem a coherent narration. Often, the artist’s ceramics are inspired by elements which have appeared in her two-dimensional work or, in turn, are themselves transferred to paper.
Recently, Haslinger started developing a series of unique handbags, made of burnt and subsequently glazed clay, which rest upon specifically constructed styrofoam plinths, covered with plaster. Brennende Tasche II & III (2018) both show orange-red flickering flames leaping out of the bags. Rough and seemingly heavy chains serving as carrying straps and are each supplemented with two handles, while one bag additionally features a delicately crafted zipper. Despite the blazing flames, the bags still seem intact and undamaged. What is being consumed on the inside remains invisible.
While the motif of the handbag references private life, it finds itself further expanded into a variation of its kind: the luxury item, which is staged along Kurfürstendamm by nearby boutiques, always maintaining a sense of inaccessibility and grandeur. In this form, Haslinger’s bags refer to the strategic construction of desire, fetishization and sexualization of consumption, which aims to seduce with pleasure-evoking impulses. However, today, and specifically regarding the artist’s bags, there is more at stake. Nowadays, post-Fordism promises self-realization, while being responsible for trapping subjects in a continuous circle of self-exploitation pervading their lives. Distinctions between work and other areas become increasingly blurred and individuals find themselves shaking under the pressure of self-growth and authenticity. Nschotschi Haslinger counters the subjects’ delving into their own bag (a presumed sphere of privacy) with a seemingly ominous fire between lust, burnout, hellish inescapability and destruction. Proudly, the handmade pedestals display the authentic traces of their manufacture. And whatever is dying away at the bottom of the handbags – it might just be cathartically released.