Markus Aebersold and Chris Handberg  | Absolute Solids
September 8 to October 20, 2018

Artist Talk | Künstlergespräch | October 9, 18h30
Please join us at the gallery on October 9, 2018 for an Artist Talk with Markus Aebersold and Chris Handberg. Audience participation welcome in German and English. An Apéro will follow.

| October 20, 17 – 20h

Absolute Solids Press
Exhibition Views
CV Chris Handberg
CV Markus Aebersold

In our cooperative works, light has come to be a key medium to investigate the overlap between the virtual and the real. Crucial for this engagement is an understanding of these realms as co-existing and the sensory experience itself as a bridge between them. In our works the light can be understood as an arbitrary metaphor for the intangible „digital“ whereas the objects/mechanics/sculptures could refer to the physical devices by which we access it. In the search for an equilibrium between the real and the virtual, the borders between the object and the immersive are erased and the „space“ created becomes the piece. 

Markus Aebersold/Chris Handberg


Balzer Projects presents Absolute Solids, the first comprehensive collaborative solo project of Markus Aebersold (*1988, CH) and Chris Handberg (*1989, DK). The fascination with digital and mechanical engineering leads Aebersold and Handberg to undertake excursions into experimentation with light and sound. During this process, the gallery was turned into a laboratory where lines, forms, structures, light and sound phenomena were tested, dismissed, recreated and installed. Working closely together allows artists to have an ongoing creative dialogue like in a ping-pong game until the completion of pieces. The main focus of the artist duo is to explore analogue and digital realms: What is the prerequisite of the existence of these works? What can be handled and what is impossible to control? What is triggered in the viewer in front of what they see – visible, yet intangible phenomena? What is the essence of the digital? What is real and how do we define reality? The exhibition, a space filled with light installations in darkness, presents the audience with an experience of light and sound environments ready to unfold.

The installations of Aebersold and Handberg move within the rich world of media installations, yet each one functions differently. Located somewhere between exploration of technology, materials, physical phenomena and space as metaphysical experience, their work can be broadly situated somewhere between the practice of Olafur Eliasson (°1967, Denmark) and James Turrell (°1943, USA). Putting it simply: the fascination with physical phenomena meets artistic ambition of questioning and reconfiguring the observable while offering an aesthetic experience.

Growth (2017) is the only one of five works in Absolute Solids, which has not been created in and specifically for the gallery space but has been shown before. Here, beams of light seem to exist by their own means; light seems to act randomly, almost at freewill. As fluid beams reflected upon the gallery wall and create patterns, they seem to be purely random, coincidental and yet — in any given moment — are meticulously programmed and mastered by the artists. Especially in Growth, the audience is struggling with the complex structures of the so-called “digital reality”.

Sleep Harvest (2018) was developed in the gallery space. It offers a sensorial experience with subtle nuances of soothing light. Here, the sculptural element is prevalent. There is a tension between the work itself literally contained by a black frame, and the scope and radius of light extending way beyond. More than a philosophical interrogation, the work manifests playful interaction between the materials and the artists. 

x Severance (2018), initially developed and shown at Substrat in Bern, creates a completely new narrative in the gallery space. Aebersold and Handberg fully master the control of light through clearly defined light beams, contrary to the supposed randomness of light in Growth. The beams are precisely calculated, installed and placed in order to start an investigative and associative process in the viewer. (x Severance might remind the viewer of Carsten Nicolai’s (°1965, Germany) fades from 2006; albeit very different, as Nicolai uses a video track to create the beams.) Just like Sleep Harvest, x Severance has a sculptural element, but here, it is immaterial. The physical infrastructure, consisting of three components beams should be considered facilitators of the actual sculpture: the light! The audience is still left in awe: are those pillars of light, in fact, real?

Monday August 27th 22:14 is the only work in Absolute Solids where light is used in a graphic sense, like a drawing or a film. It tells a story, a drama, not unlike the black and white photography of Expressionism, as in the work of André Kertész (1894-1985). Light and darkness are placed as opposites, analytical and constructed – looked upon with the eye of an engineer.

Space as experience is key to the work of the artist duo. ioi is the most striking example of a spatial intervention in the exhibition, and — in effect — was developed on-site for a very specific space, the “cabinet”. Different senses are stimulated in the viewer with subtle, acoustic components and visual surprises, ultimately putting him/her in a contemplative state, unwinding from the everyday rush, entering different levels of consciousness. Light and sound literally move towards the audience and build up a more active engagement than any painting or sculpture ever could.  

As in most media installations, the works in Absolute Solids fail to exist without their audience. Light, architecture, space, but especially the personal and subjective experiences of the viewer are necessary prerequisites for everything coming together. The installations, sculptures and interventions by Aebersold and Handberg operate on the verge of the material and immaterial, just like in the digital world.  At any point in the exhibition, it is not clear how “it was done”, what is real and what is created solely in the eye of the beholder! Yet, despite the clear focus upon technology — it is very complicated to create a casual and easy impression — the works do not tolerate mechanical reproduction: the viewer must be within the space to fully experience the sublime nature of the space and the interventions. In Aebersold’s and Handberg’s work, art comes into existence in the chasm between the real and the surreal, light and darkness, sound and silence — between the objective world, the physical work and the subjectivity of the viewer. 

Chris Handberg and Markus Aebersold graduated from Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst with Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2017.

Absolute Solids will be on view at Balzer Projects from September 8 to October 20, 2018.