Blow Up

Kabine – Blow Up, 2007
fabric, drive
ca. 330 x 120 x 120 cm

The piece is composed of a curtain reaching from floor to ceiling, enclosing a volume of the size of a changing booth (Kabine – changing booth) This anthropomorphic structure is animated from the inside with a powerful ventilator. Unable to look inside, the viewer is confronted with the motions of the cloth alone, the cause of which becomes clear only slowly.
Again, Johanna Smiatek plays with an inversion of fields of association. In department stores this kind of booth is used to try on clothing. But instead of being worn by (women´s) bodies, the fabric develops a life of its own and becomes a paraphrase, for a wind-ruffled dress perhaps. The artist also developed the closely related object Dog Days (2007) referring to the famous scene in Billy Wilder´s ‘The Seven Year Itch’ (1955) where Marilyn Monroe´s dress is blown up around her by the airstream of a subway passing beneath her.
Beyond its literal meaning, Blow Up again is a title with reference to a cinematic masterpiece, lending itself to an extended field of interpretation. The film, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni in 1966, is set in London´s fashion scene. A photographer believes he has documented a murder with his camera, which he nevertheless cannot prove. His doubts grow so strong that in the end, he questions the distinction between fiction and reality. In a similar vein, one stands in front of the curtain fabric´s dancing motions, mesmerized for a moment. Like many of Johanna Smiatek´s kinetic sculptures, this piece is a reference to the power of projection with which we imbue artifacts and lend them life. (Quote: Marc Wellmann)