Daniel Steegmann Mangrané’s artistic practice encompasses installations, sculptures, photographs, drawings and sound works as well as examining the medium of exhibition itself. For him, museums are not mere custodians of artifacts, but places where our relationship to objects and reality can be forged anew.
With his work ⊮ (a mathematical sign meaning “does not force”), consisting of curtains constructed from coloured Kriska aluminium chains and specifically developed for the spatial circumstances in the Hamburger Bahnhof, Steegmann Mangrané suggests different ways of viewing and moving through the space, provoking interplays between full and void, continuity and interruption, appealing to notions of corporeality, immateriality and transit states. This participatory quality of the work is reminiscent of works by Brazilian artists of the neo-concrete movement in the 1950s and 1960s such as Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica or Lygia Pape, who saw sensory engagement as a democratic entry point to the work, with political and emancipatory consequences for the participants.
Crucial to this installation is Steegmann Mangrané’s placement of Julio González’ iconic work Masque Montserrat criant (Mask of Montserrat Screaming), 1938/1939, created under the impact and as a response to Fascist violence during the Spanish Civil War. Positioned in such a way that one would first encounter the back of the sculpture, the visitors are invited to see Steegmann Mangrané’s installation through Montserrat’s eyes and open mouth. These orifices seem amplified by the cutouts of the curtains in the space beyond the sculpture and get further complicated by the other works in the space: One hologram presents a mask of barks, while in another hologram some leaves show geometric cutouts and a small leaf on the wall wears the perforations made by insects. Branches, delicately split in half, are placed in space or appear – drawn and duplicated – on a mural. The same drawn pattern of branches is used to cut a 300 million years old marble stone into pieces and recombine them. These subtle connections create a web of reverberating echoes which draw viewers both physically and mentally into speculations on the complex dynamics between nature, culture and technology.