Catherine Bertola creates installations, drawings and photographic works that respond to specific sites, collections and historic contexts. Underpinning the work is a desire to look beyond the surface of everyday objects and buildings, to uncover forgotten and invisible histories of places and people as a way of reframing the past and considering the present.
Sad Bones is a series of works made using black and white archive images from Country Life magazine, all depicting grand theatrical interiors of properties that have since been destroyed, demolished or left to fall into ruin.
These images survive as the ‘sad bones’ of a world and way of life that no longer exists. Catherine is interested in considering these architectural spaces through the lives of the women who once occupied them, trapped within these interiors performing their roles of labour or leisure, through servitude or the constraints of the period.
The fireplaces visible within the rooms are rekindled and momentarily set alight, leaving behind scorched holes and blackened marks on the surface This action simultaneously gives these spaces a physical presence and at the same time destroys the image.
“There is nothing mindless about her pyromania though. In charring and partially obscuring the images, she jeopardises their use as historical documents but also, counterintuitively, brings them, and their implicit absent female subjects, into greater relief. The suggestion is that History’s role in contributing to the eclipsing of the part played by women leads Bertola to treat archival historical documents with a healthy transgressive scepticism.”
Lizzie Lloyd, from the essay Enduring but in Cinders, 2017
Friday 29 July -8 September 2018
Galerie M+R Fricke
Beusselstr 66 10115 Berlin