Katharina Grosse’s large and colorful installations explore how abstract painting functions in a three-dimensional field. The installations take her work on canvas out of the studio into a larger context in which she can isolate certain specific concerns. “They’re about expanding small experience,” she says. “By making something small really large, you slow the information and time down, like slow motion.” Grosse believes that incorporating painting with its immediate environment forms a total system of light and color that painting in two dimensions neglects. For her recent installation at MASS MoCA, One Floor Up More Highly (2010), she transformed a massive interior space into an almost Martian landscape, filled with jagged blocks of styrofoam and piles of soil and gravel painted in hues.
Piles of dirt, pipes, crates, wires, ladders, and building tools are doused in colour and curated in a maze of chaos through which viewers must navigate to reach the next work, discovering new aspects of the site at each turn. This architectural and material consideration of colour and painting are further explored in the second structure Ghost, a massive, seemingly floating cloud like sculpture reductively carved by Grosse in situ with a hot wire cutter. Highly intricate and confounding perspectives, it almost serves as a channel through which the other elements of the show can be (invoking its namesake), fulfilling its intent of transforming the audiences’ experience of the space and paint.
Additionally, engaging with various materials to portray the diversity of painting is vital to the exhibition and Grosse’s ideology, conspicuous in Silk Studio, the third installation. Consisting of large painted silk curtains depicting printed reproductions of Grosse’s Berlin studio walls, this work transports a space into k-11, recalling the point of conception. Prior to it’s installation, Grosse emphasizes the criticality of material in relation to the space.
“The materiality is very important, it’s going to be printed here on a special satin silk, and then installed there. I wouldn’t say it has a specific significance, but it is bringing a lot of signifying elements to the site and then the moment it’s painted over it changes that significance to becoming ambiguous. So, I thought you have different sections you walk through and they are all very, very different. It’s a little bit about the structure of the mall as well. The mall has these areas where you drift in and out and before you know it you’re in front of a clothes rack.”
Bhargava, Aaina. "Katharina Grosse’s Mumbling Mud: A Visual Spectacle from Conception to Realisation." COBO. November 14, 2018. Accessed May 1, 2019. https://www.cobosocial.com/dossiers/katharina-grosse-mumbling-mud/.