Bettina Pousttchi’s Double Monuments reimagines architecture as mediums of remembrance.
WASHINGTON—This summer, The Phillips Collection presents the work of German artist Bettina Pousttchi, which explores the history and memory of architecture. Double Monuments is part of the Phillips’s ongoing Intersections series that highlights contemporary art and artists in conversation with the museum’s permanent collection, history, and architecture.
Through photography and sculpture, Bettina Pousttchi is interested in altering architectural buildings and monuments as indicators of the past and mediums of remembrance. In her series Double Monuments for Flavin and Tatlin (2010–2016), Pousttchi transforms the constraining materials of rails, street barricades, and metal crowd barriers into sculptural forms with spiraling vertical towers and neon light tubes. These “double monuments” reference the work of Russian Constructivist sculptor-architect Vladimir Tatlin from the 1920s and American minimalist artist Dan Flavin from the 1960s.
Five Double Monuments, ranging from 5 to 12 feet, will be on view
at the Phillips, dramatically illuminating the space with neon lights. The sculptures will be paired with works from the permanent collection including Naum Gabo’s Linear Structure in Space No. 1 (1943) and black and white photographs from the 1930s and 1940s by Bernice Abbott, Louis Faurer, Alfred Eisenstaedt, and Gjon Mill—images that underline the theme of illuminated space presented inPousttchi and Gabo’s works.
Best known for his architectural sculptures that emphasize negative space and translucency and suggest skyscrapers and industrial settings, Gabo creates work with a strong kinship to Russian constructivism, a movement which sought to overcome the static and monumental aspects of traditional sculpture and activate the surrounding space. Just as Gabo used glass, metal, and plastic to create fluid, almost transparent sculptures that emphasizes space, line, and movement, Pousttchi employs materials such as neon and powder-coated objects to create installations that address both sculptural form and architectural setting.
Double Monuments is exhibited concurrently with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s World Time Clock series, a group of photographs Pousttchi created in 24 time zones around the globe over the last eight years. Together, these two exhibitions represent Pousttchi’s first museum presentations on the east coast of the United States.
Born in Mainz, Germany, in 1971, Bettina Pousttchi is a Berlin-based artist working in photography, video, and sculpture. She studied at the Kunstackademie Dusseldorf and participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York from 1999–2000. Pousttchi’s work has been displayed throughout Europe, including Amsterdam, Berlin, Köln, and London. She held her first U.S. solo exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas, in 2014.
Double Monuments is on view June 9–October 2, 2016.
Thursday, June 9 (6:30 pm) Opening Reception: The Phillips Collection will host a reception with the artist to mark the opening of Double Monuments.
Friday, June 10 (6:30 pm) Meet the Artist: Bettina Pousttchi will speak about her World Time Clock series at the Hirshhorn.