Of Snakes and Ladders

Wow! The rooms of KOW Berlin are full of surprises. Even the view from the street offers me an exceptionally alluring view of Tina Schulz’s installation located in the basement of the gallery. But that’s just the beginning! I eagerly go through the backyard and come across an imposing concrete staircase that leads me to the first floor. Right after entering, I am overwhelmed by the nested perspectives and cool concrete walls, which for a while hold me under a spell.  

To the right of the entrance there is a concrete staircase that leads down to the first part of the exhibit. When you reach this first level, the outlook of the exhibit opens to a large-scale, rust-colored structure, which consists of two L-shapes nested together. Behind that there are other objects on the ground, that upon closer inspection, are a repetition of the same shape. Equally clever is the stratagem by which the floor installation takes on the space of the room. 

An ancient indian board game

But that’s not all! The exhibition continues with another concrete staircase leading to the second part located in the basement. Here I see can see the entire installation, which I had previously caught only a segment of from the street. As I stand before the big window and look up to the street level, I realize that I’ve actually reached back to the beginning of the exhibition. Of course, I still have to go back up the stairs of the gallery and go again through the level with the rust-colored construction, and finally up the concrete stairs to be at the street again. In the end, I passed through the points A-B-C-A-C-B-A, in that order. Get it?

Tina Schulz, KOW Berlin

description of the temporal relation between two points on a circular path, 2011, video loop. Courtesy of Tina Schulz and KOW BERLIN.

Whoever has not understood that is better off visiting Tina Schulz’s graphite drawing “Of Snakes and Ladders,” which is also located next to another 16 drawings in the basement. These reflect the entire exhibition’s concept. The composition is based on an eponymous dice board game from ancient India, which illustrates the fatality or randomness of human existence. Landing on a ladder in this game either brings you forward, if you’re lucky, or if you land on a snake, then you must fall back. This is a kind of space-time circular motion, which can also be experienced in the exhibition tour.

Back to the Future

To those for whom this explanation is not sufficient,  go back to the middle level and look at the installation video alongside the rust-colored structure. A text  here explains the science of formal logic concerning how temporal synchrony arises, ie: the past can also be in the future: A-B-A.

Our perception often eludes us of the fact that we are actually constantly in these loops. Often (for example in the financial sector) there is an assumed linearity of time, which often proves to be only presumptuous. Nothing is fixed, but everything is moving; our seeing, interpreting, understanding and action is based on our everyday experiences.

Quite complex and frightening at the same time, because you never know really what will happen tomorrow. But actually it’s very exciting, because you can go through every day in a new way, and so there is always the option for new opportunities to arise.

So I think it’s good that the future is open, because otherwise where would the fun be?

  • Galerie KOW Berlin, Tina Schulz, November 5th 2011 – January 28th 2012, Wednesday – Sunday, 12 pm – 6 pm.