NADA New York

MAY 14th - MAY 17th

Solo Presentation of work by Tatiana Kronberg

Tatiana Kronberg
by Kendra Jayne Patrick

Governing her practice with a set of thoughtful and potent methods of disembodiment, Tatiana Kronberg works her way through a sensuous meditation on desire. "It's not the thing itself that is necessarily important to me," she says on a snowy January afternoon in her Greenpoint studio. "Really, it's [an object's] imprint in space, or maybe the way we create and assign meaning or value that fascinates me." Thus, Kronberg makes art from the space that objects might or used to take up: colorful rubber slabs feature the shapes of costume jewelry molded into them; large panels of aluminum present copies of photos of diamonds' fluorescence that exclude the diamonds themselves. Illuminating the divide between what we have and what we want, Kronberg's peculiar shadow objects are metaphors for desire.

Although Desire is the body of work's all- embracing theme, the works themselves are intellectually fashioned by an interaction between this and two other concepts -- "the body" and "negative space." The relationship between these three comprises the oeuvre's conceptual skeleton, and marks the starting point from which the works go on to materialize. The sex toys that repeatedly show up on Kronberg's photograms can help to illustrate these themes' generative interplay.

Sex toys have a particular relationship to sexual desire. If sexual desire is, broadly, a lifetime of experiences and curiosities distilled into a formula for orgasm, sex toys are a physical means of access to that space. This is why Kronberg chooses them; although she is generally interested in desire, in her art-making, she concentrates her focus in the physical dimension. Thus, "the body" anchors her interests in desire, guiding her inquiries and cohering the body of work.

On sex toys' relationship to negative space, Kronberg muses, "sex toys are negatives of the body, in a way, the way [they're fashioned to] go inside of it. They are stand-ins for the body, and in my work they are a means of talking about the body. Or, looking at it from an opposite direction." It's that which an object implies, then, to which

Kronberg refers when she discusses negative space. Sex toys "stand in" for the body not only when they replicate body parts that can't be as smooth as glass or as large as you'd hoped, but also because it is our bodies for which they're specifically designed. In Kronberg's eyes, then, it's looming apparitions of our bodies that come into view in the "negative space" around the sex toys, and it is within that forcefield that she sees the possibilities of corporeal sexual desire.

Disembodiment is the final component in Kronberg's core methodology. The means by which the work moves from hypothesis into objecthood, disembodiment can be seen as negative space's active limb. Sex toys' presence in the oeuvre demonstrates Kronberg's approach to choosing its items, but a complete piece of art will demonstrate how the methodology of disembodiment creates action within the works. 2014's Black Diamond, a favorite of mine, elegantly demonstrates the technique. Black Diamond is the aforementioned piece whereupon Kronberg exponentially enlarged pictures of diamond jewelry from print advertisements and removed the diamonds themselves. Left glimmering against the piece's three slick, black metal surfaces are cosmic-bright flashes of the diamonds' brilliant fluorescence.

Certainly, diamonds are a thematically and conceptually coherent choice for Kronberg. They "stand in for the body" because they imply our hands, our ears, our wrists. And, the role that we have assigned them -- to sit on our bodies and signal to others that we possess wealth and/or the person to whom we've gifted them -- is to "stand in" for far more intangible ideals. But, Black Diamond sets the audience's thinking wheels into motion via the diamonds' absence. Frankly, an audience member wouldn't be able to identify those lights unless he asked Kronberg to do so for him; as a whole piece of art, it looks like a chunk of outer space, taking over three sides of the corner of the room, feeling more like a beck and a call to another location in spacetime than it does a reflection on the arbitrariness of value. But, once he does understand that he's been left with only their bombastic, beautiful, photoshopped brilliance, he's also left wondering what, exactly, is so special about those tiny rocks. By removing the object and showcasing its aura, Kronberg pulls her audience into the metaphor, and into the mysterious space it proposes.

Although Kronberg prefers to reveal absurdities about the nature of desire rather than resolve them, these absurdities feel quite tense when we rove Desire over the territory of the female form. Both a burden and a certain twisted freedom of expression, the expectation that female bodies be visually pleasing to the societal eye is impossible to exclude from a conversation about works fashioned from collections of female body parts. These, the artist's seminal photograms, feature a potpourri of real and fake female limbs seemingly organized to sit resolutely between responsibility and freedom. In Untitled #1 (Handless Maiden) (2015), her real bum, a fake torso, and one fake and one real leg are accompanied by an exercise ring that looks slyly sexual. The row of real and fake legs in Untitled (Loose Control) (2015) can be easily imagined as the eye-level view from a stage occupied by leggy Rockettes or ballerinas. Untitled #2 (Strap On) (2015) features parts that together happen to look like a woman raising her legs and arms in ritualistic dance, topped by the body strap piece from a strap on dildo device. Kronberg has positioned these works to be suggestive but not titliating, as distinctly feminine and still free.

"Free" could also be used to characterize the sensibility that tints all of Kronberg's work. Something about the limbs and flowers and laser lights flying around her photograms feels celebratory and unencumbered. Her slightly Gober-ish silicone replicas of her own hands and feet exemplify the works in the group that seem to have unbuckled themselves from the work's conceptual underpinnings, but still still manage to float alongside them with a knowing smirk. This is work that often feels like revelry, and that is a feeling Kronberg both orchestrates and takes part in. "I've been playing with spaces in my work where its confusing, where the audience may not know whats what," she tells me. Whether this means that the audience member decides to look a little longer to determine the authenticity of a leg on a photogram or nervously scan the room before he touches one of her weirdly anthropological rubber jewelry molds, that middling, wondering spot is exactly where she wants him.

Tatiana Kronberg's work presents to us an oddly plausible vision of desire. With a tasteful impishness, she uses her objects to reveal our selves in our shadows, our needs in our wants, and all the possibilities that lie in between.