When Annina Roescheisen tagged me in one of her Instagram pictures, I could not have been more intrigued about her and her work: an image of a beautiful woman wearing saturated primary colors in a setting that resembled Michelangelo’s La Pietà, except there were toys around her, and in her arms, a giant teddy bear instead of a dying Jesus Christ.
My curiosity grew and I was so happy to accept Annina’s invitation to walk me through her exhibition at Studio Vendome in SoHo where two bodies of work are being exhibited: La Pietà and A Love Story.
Annina, who is German, lived in Paris for many years and is now based in New York, combines photography, sculpture, video and performance in a variety of works. Her La Pietà series particularly haunted me. With Annina at the center, her arms covered in tattoos, the vibrant combination of red, yellow and blue aims at symbolism taken from religious iconography and medieval paintings that represent the transition from childhood to adulthood. Holding the teddy bear seems to make the rite of passage less painful, or perhaps nurtures the comforting thought of clutching a transitional object for life. In La Pieta, there is a series of photographs and a series of video art on screens that each show a different film in slow motion. Annina wants to treat video art as paintings, ensuring that the viewer is immersed in the image and its details. She effectively accomplishes this, as people cannot stop watching. The colors are magnetic; Annina’s face is glowing and gives away the contradictory impressions of virginal purity and a complete loss of innocence.
A Love Story includes the large sculpture of a heart made with glass, iron, aluminum and light bulbs that remind me of the circus or a tragicomic performance. There is also a video, where the heart is incorporated among dark rocky mountains, fog, and characters that move along a beautiful musical composition. Next to the screen, photographs of scenes that complement the video were printed on delicate Barrite paper, which lends a vintage quality to the photographs. The frames, ornate and eye-catching, are part of the composition and evocative of baroque mounts. The symbolism of the 14th and 15th centuries, along with the use of a deep shade of red, harmonize with the rest of the works.
I can’t help but praise Annina’s tattoos, as I feel they are rightly part of her identity and truly enhance the images in La Pietà. There is something so punk-rock about her despite her expression of subtle feelings from a strong, feminine angle, which creates a deeper meaning within her work. She is delving into complex issues of identity, the darkness of human relationships, the fragility of life, the bond between a mother and a child throughout life, and the symbols that each one of us carry on as we grow up.
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New York, NY
Until May 8