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Jorinde Voigt’s Measured Approach
by Marina Cashdan
Jorinde Voigt’s large-scale graphite drawings look like a dizzying but elegant network of flight routes or seismographic data, notated with directional arrows, writing and, more recently, collaged with colored paper. Informed by musical structure — the lithe, nearly six-foot-tall artist played the cello from age 9 to 26 — Voigt applies statistical algorithms to observations and emotions. Or as she likes to say, she “measures the invisible.”
This is an important moment for the Berlin-based artist: she has two shows opening in the next two weeks, the first at David Nolan Gallery Gallery in New York and the second at Lisson Gallery in London, and she has been short-listed for the 2012 Guerlain Contemporary Art Foundation’s drawing prize. By incorporating color and form, movement, melody, rhythm, imagination, notation and collage, Voigt has come up with a systematic and multi-perspective approach to depicting the world — what happens when the quotidian (for example, walking down the street) collides with the nuanced (birds chirping, the direction in which the wind is blowing, leaves rustling) on a single picture plane. “One view of things is insufficient,” she says.
Chinese eroticism, nature and literature have all been subjects of her work. In a series of 36 collages being shown at David Nolan Gallery, Voigt applied her concept of observation to Roland Barthes’s “A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments”; words like “telephone” correspond to the shape of a 1950s-style black telephone, while an amorphous yellow shape corresponds to a kiss, notated with the actual word, as well as the page number and chapter.
Voigt and her partner, the conceptual artist Christian Jankowski, live in Berlin with their infant son. While she spends a lot to time at her light-filled Berlin studio, either standing over her table drawing or, for more large-scale works, lying on the floor over the paper, the busy couple also does a lot of traveling — together and apart. It’s while traveling that Voigt finds space to conceive her drawings. “I’m very productive when I’m traveling,” she says.” It’s good to leave your regular life and look at things in a fresh way. This is when I make all my studies, which becomes very important afterwards.”
Jorinde Voigt’s work can be seen at David Nolan Gallery, New York, March 8 to April 28, and at Lisson Gallery, London, March 21 to April 28.