Nukuheva Owen Gump at BQ, Berlin

From November 2nd to December 19th 2012, BQ presents Owen Gump’s third solo exhibition “Nukuhevea”. The title evokes exotic landscapes and early dreams of emigrating from industrialised Europe to the seemingly unspoiled wilderness free of alienation and the necessities of civilisation. A symbol of an ideal paradise, the title determines the exhibition as the materialisation of Utopia.

In the main exhibition space of the gallery, c-prints taken in a surfboard workshop are displayed. The photographs provide an insight into the working environment underneath the lifestyle of the surfing culture. The workplaces – covered with memos, sketches, and newspaper clippings – and the shop with its tools, paint, stencils, and sandpaper not only testifies to technical production. Rather, the arrangement and design of this work environment manifests the craftsmen’s affiliation with the surf community, symbolic signs of which are visible throughout the space. As the visual codes of subculture that create identity, these props render the workshop into a utopian place resembling an artist’s studio.

Owen Gump extends this transformation of place by means of certain identity-creating symbols within the gallery space: his first sculpture, resembling a surfboard, suddenly appears as if projected from the imaginary sphere of the photographs into the gallery and materialized there, bestowing the space with an almost utopian character. The artist intensifies this impression of an ideal place by the installation of opaque glass panes that block two passages of the gallery, among them the backside exit of the main exhibition space. Only a small gap is left open and allows the visitor to peep through.

With the installation of the glass panes, Owen Gump refers to Californian Modernist architecture, especially to the beach houses constructed by the American architect Craig Ellwood. Satisfying the inhabitants’ desire for living in harmony with nature, far from the noise of crowded cities, they were built in the midst of pristine nature, facing the seaside with their simple and unpretentious, diaphanous structure infused with light. Facing the street, however, the houses have plain and opaque walls that give them an impression of exclusiveness. This architecture intentionally symbolizes the wish for seclusion and isolation from society. With his photographs of architectural details, for example of closed shutters, blocked-up window bays and fences, and with socio-psychological and formal aesthetic sensitivity, Owen Gump gives slight hints at the downside of living in Utopia.

3. November – 19. December 2012
Weydingerstr. 10 – 10178
Berlin-Mitte. Germany
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