The body of work presented at the gallery depicts hands pulling books from, or putting them back onto shelves. The gestures of the respective painted hands are ambiguous. Though they are repetitive, the gestures are not identical. Each painting is unique in composition, size and color while the motif, a book pulled out / put back on a shelf by one or a pair of hands, stays the same.
The covers of the books on the shelves are blank and mainly monochrome. They neither show text nor images. The books' contents are emptied out. They become props for the hands; only the gesture of taking the books out of, or putting them back onto the shelf remains. But without the books' content this gesture loses its meaning as well. Books without titles and covers cannot be indexed and put into order. Empty books contain no knowledge or information. There is no point in pulling an empty book from a shelf; nothing can be looked up. Maybe the hands are frozen or paused in the moment of realisation, that there is no information to be retrieved and so in the second after that realisation, the book will be pushed back in line again to the empty others on the shelf.
Text: Extract from Repeatedly Reaching For Answers Not Quite to Grasp, 2021 (© Johanna Strobel)
Press release courtesy Boutwell Schabrowsky. Text: Johanna Strobel.