Synaesthesia / 1
The Orange Smell of November
Barbara Ryan | Annette Stahmer
As the first part of the series Synaesthesia, Art Laboratory Berlin presents the exhibition The Orange Smell of November with new works by Barbara Ryan and Annette Stahmer.
The term “synaesthesia”, from the Greek “aisthesis” (“Sensation”, “sensory impression”) and “syn” (“together”) meaning the experience of two or more sensory impressions at the same time, is both an artistic paradigm and neurological phenomena. It has been prominent in the melding of the arts from the Renaissance masque through Romanticism and Symbolism, and played a major role in the 20th century avant-garde. This phenomenon of synaesthetic perception can be mirrored in the multimediality of our technological age. This interdisciplinarity of the senses led Art Laboratory Berlin to search for artists who either use synaesthesia as a basis for their work, or who incorporate their own synaesthesia in their art.
The artist Barbara Ryan’s perceptions of the world are underpinned by her polymodal synaesthesia which in turn forms the foundation of her artistic work. She experiences her synaesthesia »as something that is in her parallel conscious – as opposed to something that is in the subconscious, creating a duality of vision«. Her installation That can’t be September – it smells like the August of 1985! combines in a unique way the artist’s intimate personal relationship between scent, color, time and space, played out within the city of Berlin, where she lived in the 1990s.
The work of the Berlin typographer and artist Annette Stahmer revolves around language, the relationship between voice and writing, the act of writing, palimpsests and synaesthesia. The two videos in the exhibition – A ist blau and Synästhetische Bilder I – IV – show the artist’s mother, a synaesthete who connects vowels with certain colors. The focus is on language that, following this internal logic, serves not only as a description of this phenomena, but becomes in itself material, assuming color and consistency. Therefore it evokes within the listener poetic, almost surreal images.