Helen Shulkin investigates the objects of new quarter in Hamburg, in which she feels the beginning of the cosmic era, the emergence of virtual technologies that solve the crisis between philosophy and postmodernism.
an article written by Carmen Line Hust
ARTICULATE PROMOTE | November 2021
Belarusian Helen Shulkin (b. 1978) is an emerging artist based in Hamburg / Germany. Her work represents spaces and objects inspired by architecture, which she explores through her individual aesthesis and develops in a subtle relationship between neo-futurism and magical realism. Aesthesis is a fundamental metaphor to describe her own interpretations and indiscriminately pluralistic views that attribute the existence of human hypostasis to all architectural spaces.
In creation, Helen often uses Google Earth and zooms in until the plane becomes virtual. Shulkin uses these virtual layers as a rabbit hole to traverse the event horizon in search of new spatial coordinates. This results in paintings that represent a completely new meta space.
To Shulkin, the important question is how the posturban processes in the modern city can be interpreted by an artist who is working with traditional media? How to find which objects represent the conflict between old and new, and which urban spaces are most susceptible to change?
What are the prevalent portrayals of post objects and how are those transformations perceived in human awareness? Which technological structures maintain their entity? How to capture the transformation of the future city? In this context, a fundamental question arises: does the city have a quintessence or hypostasis to extract and portray?
The Italian archaeologist, architect and artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), extracted such a quintessence of the city in his 1749 engravings series called "Carceri". In this series, he depicted architectural constructions that were frightening in their size and lack of comprehensible logic, where spaces are mysterious, as the purpose of these staircases, bridges, passages, blocks and chains is not clear. The power of stone structures is suppressed. Creating the second version of the "Carceri", Piranesi dramatized the original compositions: deepened the shadows, added many details and human figures - like prisoners. In fact, Piranesi has cracked Pandora's box and released architectural giants as anticipation of architectural postmodernism.
After 200 years, the Dutch painter and theoretician Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) arrives in New York and plunges into the atmosphere of Manhattan, and then creates such canvases as the "New York City" and "Broadway Boogie Woogie". The quintessence of the city of Piet Mondrian is presented in a very different light than that of Piranesi. It's an endless jazz, an endless rhythm of racing taxis. His paintings are made up of simple coloured surfaces, where the sensual centre of the city is extremely simplified and reduced, where the balance between the individual and the universal is created. As a result, Piet Mondrian opened Pandora's box and released the music, enclosing it in his squares and rectangles, as if fearing that it would escape.
Two completely different artists, who lived in different eras, in their own way opened up the identity of the city. However, the city changes and experiences deep transformations, which is the drive of Shulkin, to reopen Pandora's box.
Reopening Pandora's Box, Helen Shulkin takes the objects of new quarter in Hamburg – named Elbbruecken – out of the box. Shulkin feels in these objects the beginning of the cosmic era, the emergence of virtual technologies that solve the crisis between philosophy and postmodernism. This architecture is a challenge to the entire city of Hamburg, concentrating high-tech and destroying traditional tectonics. These houses and bridges have incredible plasticity, a combination of volumes and shapes. In a colorful kaleidoscope of styles, the objects are living environments. In dialogue with the Elbe bridges, the design takes up the shape of the imposing steel structures: the wide sweeping curves of the steel arches of the Elbe bridges and the fish-bellied girders of Elbbruecken. What else will occur as Shulkin open’s Pandora's box?
This article about Helen Shulkin is an ARTICULATE PROMOTE article. Shulkin is furthermore part of the 15th magazine, ARTICULATE #15. Read, download or order your print version of the full publication below.