Serial Mortification
Print series for the gatekeeper’s house
The Alter St. Mattaus Friedhof in Schoenberg
Berlin, Germany
June, 2015

I was pleased and honored to be invited by Armin Völckers last year to do an exhibition together with him at the Friedhofsmuseum. It was a perfect invitation for me because it was both a chance to collaborate with Armin and also a chance to collaborate with this picturesque site. The Alter St. Mattaus Cemetery with its Hansel-and-Gretel keeper’s house encapsulate the particular themes I have been exploring over the past thirty years, first as a painter and installation artist and then, for the past twenty years as an artist working with computers and simulations technology.

I’ve always wrestled with computers, so my personal artistic project has been to represent this emotional struggle with the cold, rationalist confines of the digital. It’s a struggle that I have also tried to universalize by connecting it to a series of culturally defined opposites: the mind vs. the body, nature vs. culture, the human vs. the institution.

This body of work, shown at the Friedhofsmuseum for the first time, is a group of virtual sculptures that I call the Mortifications. To create them, I’ve built a series of models using 3D software evoking classical sculptures. Although these works may seem to be images, I actually think of them as a new form of sculpture, merging photography with a 3-dimensional virtual model that exists only inside of a computer. After I build the models, I fake the process of aging by using another software typically used in the computer-game industry to create skin for zombies and all varieties of different monsters.

Although I very painstakingly and assiduously simulate what amounts to a wholly digital death on for my works - this very precise and technological process is not without a large degree of humor and also a bit of gentle irony. I think of it as a new form of 19th-century Gothik, though let’s call it here a digital techno-goth. It’s really only with a little bit of camp and a dollop of gentle irony and humor that I can seriously stage this, my own digitized version of the Romantic Rebellion. Except this time around, rather than being a statement against the culture of bourgeois society, mine counters the bureaucratic and now fully corporatized world of computers and of advanced technology.

So in the spirit of death and decay, and with the hope that my pictures might also possess a small degree of 19th century melancholy in addition to 21st-century Goth, I’d like also to thank Martin Ernerth, the keeper of the Friedshofmuseum for permitting Armin and I to install our pictures inside Alter Friedhof St. Marien - St. Nicola - my latest and now favorite actually romantic German garden.

Claudia Hart
Berlin, June 2, 2015