Meat, skin, wax, confetti, blood, intestines, odours, senses, smoke, ritual, alcohol, excess, touch, singing, fat and ashes: these are some of the soft, rough, gentle, and coarse materials artist Pauline Curnier Jardin employs in her works. The winner of the Preis der Nationalgalerie 2019 is presenting the extensive video installation Fat to Ashes, which she produced for her first institutional solo exhibition in Germany, in the historic halls of Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin.
Jardin’s cinematic and installative language often adopts myth-like narratives, which she deconstructs and disrupts. Fat to Ashes combines three cinematic snapshots: a religious festival in honour of Saint Agatha; the slaughter of a pig; and the Cologne Carnival. Thereby the exhibition’s title denotes the week of excess that runs from so-called “Fat Thursday” or “Giovedi grasso” and known as “Weiberfastnacht” or “Fettdonnerstag” in German, until Ash Wednesday which marks the day reality sets back in and Lent begins according to the Christian Calendar. Jardin shows these three spheres of activity as places of transgression and transformation which bring societal functions originating in cult rituals into the present: those of congregating together, performative display, and the exuberant abandonment of prevailing mores.