Das Institut: Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Visit the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in the next few months and prepare to be greeted by a pair of flashing neon breasts (Breast, Röder, 2015). Das Institut has taken over this historic gallery space with a distractingly varied collection of works and artists.
This is the first major UK exhibition for artistic duo Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder. Though the New York/London-based pair practise separately they have, since 2007, been collaborating as Das Institut. This is no normal partnership – more of a mutable collective. Resisting the art market’s mania for individual branding, the pair invite others to respond to their work within the exhibition space. Thus, Solar Body Prints (2013/2014) by Röder is blanketed in a colour wash from gels stuck to the gallery skylights by Brätsch, all accompanied by the intense crescendo of Sergei Tcherepnin’s sound installation (Flame Creatures, 2015).
Despite rejecting the artist’s identity as unimportant, Das Institut’s physical presence is felt throughout, their bodies the subject of their work. In keeping with the human body theme, the viewer becomes part of the performance with continued commentary on the mind’s subliminal reaction to the artwork presented. This refreshing ambivalence toward personal status – whether as author, subject or object – comes as part of a resistance to the single narrative in general. Though commendable in theory, in practice this all becomes a bit of a muddle. Shifting between different scales and media, artists and subjects, the visitor may well leave feeling nothing more than confused.
Dismissing the celebrity of identity is all well and good. But, in partnership with rising fame – the not so secretive pseudonym of Das Institut gracing the walls of the famed Serpentine Gallery – this romantic ideal seems a little droll. Nonetheless, the playful attitude of Das Institut’s work is attractive and the message they want to spread certainly worth a listen.
Das Institut is at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery from 3rd March until 14th May 2016, for further information visit here.