She Has No Mouth
April 29–June 17, 2017
She Has No Mouth is Pamela Rosenkranz’s inaugural solo exhibition at Sprüth Magers, Berlin, for which she has developed a new series of paintings and an installation with light, scent, and sound. The works continue her longstanding engagement with the biological and evolutionary underpinnings of art, her investigation of materiality and immateriality, pigments and pheromones, microbes, colors, and scents.
Rosenkranz probes the sensory stimulations that have triggered 'hard-wired' responses in humans since prehistoric times. She mines these malleable codes that have been manipulated in contemporary consumer culture, by commercial enterprises such as the fashion and perfume industries. Rosenkranz starts, in a series of new paintings, with the tabby patterns of cats. Often evoking images of 'sexiness' and sensual attraction, their stripes and patterns have emerged through complex evolutionary processes – the camouflaged surface of their fur simulates the light and shadows of their original habitat. More than 60 years ago, Alan Turing published a visionary paper on the mathematics of patterns that were repeated regularly in nature, but it is only recently that biologists have begun to uncover evidence of the patterning mechanisms that Turing proposed. It is known that tabby patterns not only trigger fight or flight responses in humans – to whose primordial ancestors, cats were a natural enemy – but that they also signal sexual and cultural dominance. The paintings on view develop a method that Rosenkranz has used previously: she applies layers of transparent skin-tone acrylic paint to cutouts of photographs that resulted from a Google Image search, covering the image with a three-dimensional and porous ‘skin’. The paint she uses replicates skin tones as well as the sand and earth hues native to the sub-Saharan African landscape where cats first hunted men, and where human language and culture emerged.