Charlotte Posenenske

Charlotte Posenenske / 1930–1985 / Germany


The 5th Ural Biennial Main Project features the work:
“Vierkantrohre Serie DW (Square Tubes Series DW)” (Corrugated cardboard, white plastic screws, 1967–ongoing)
Courtesy of the Estate of Charlotte Posenenske, Take Ninagawa, Tokyo and Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin
The installation at the Ural biennial is reconfigured with 30 units by the curator in collaboration with Ross McBee and Liliia Sabirova

Charlotte Posenenske’s early experimental approach to mark making, and her interest in the optical effects of color and interactive sculptures were informed by her experience working as a theater costume and set designer. In 1967, she produced Series DW (shortly after she conceptualized Series D, a variant with six shapes in galvanized sheet steel). The installation work was comprised of four shapes of lightweight corrugated cardboard, resembling standard ventilation ducts. The Series DW modules can be combined at will and adapted to different exhibition contexts. By establishing elementary systems of form that are activated by numerous participants, Posenenske offers a collective and collaborative model of artistic authorship that unfolds across sites of production and presentation. She uses permutation and contingency as playful conceptual devices to oppose compositional and cultural hierarchies. In this sense, the “immortality” of Posenenske’s work lies in its radically open-ended nature: the endless permutational possibilities and the continual reconfigurations that engage the public.

Posenenske’s desire to not make art for individuals but for the public, with cheap and mass produced industrial materials, as well as her hope of creating an emancipatory model of work as play, foretold her decision to quit the arts. She made the announcement in the politically and socially tumultuous month of May 1968. In order to understand the labor conditions in factories, she went on to pursue a degree in sociology with a focus on industrial labor and worked as an advisor in support of unions. At the end of her life, Posenenske approved the continued production of her art series, thus ensuring the works’ renewed life.