all installation views: “Lost Element. Re-Construction of the Witch.”, VBKÖ, 2022
Article about the exhibition
The work by Lena Violetta Leitner refers to ecological issues, but it’s also somehow „uncanny.“ In her way of connecting the natural elements (plant, soil, water) and technology (steam, clay), one can also see a subtle sense of humour.
The second part of the work – the plant – „spoke“ to us in Morse code. The plant was shaking from time to time unnaturally and in its subsequent movements (longer or shorter) the message „I will survive“ was encoded. These two messages – projected on the steam and encrypted in Morse code, could be interpreted in the context of the need to return to so-called female values, such as care, and respect for the environment and other entities, but also with the belief that witches (wise women) can overturn the harmful patriarchal order. Additionally, the plant chosen by the artist was a fern, which is one of the oldest plants on Earth.
„The Exhibition Lost Element / Re-Construction Of The Witch. Curatorial Reflections“, Anka Leśniak, in: Art and Documentation no.26
TREMATE was created in 2022 as a two-part installation as part of the exhibition „Lost Element. Re-Construction of the Witch“ by the TFR Archive. The work refers to the sculpture of the „Witch“ by Teresa Feodorowna Ries, a Jewish-Russian sculptor whose studio was aryanized and plundered in 1938. The sculpture „Witch“ that somehow ended up in a gardenshow in Oberlaa, Vienna, in the 70s, was simply left there and was severely affected by vandalism. Only much later it was brought to the Wien Museum and restored, but the hand of the witch holding a scissor remains lost.
The installation forms soil from Oberlaa (where the Witch was left behind) into an altar, with a water filled glass bowl on top. A mistmaker is placed inside the bowl and a beamer projects text on the mist rising from the bowl:
“TREMATE, TREMATE, LE STREGHE SON TORNATE”
(Tremble, tremble, the witches have returned.)
The second part consists of a plant (a fern like the ones found in the forest) that trembles slightly from time to time. A motor being fixed in the plant moves in a programmed rhythm – a Morse code translated into motion:
I WILL SURVIVE.
Morse code is since its invention believed to be a tool for the communication with the supernatural and dead.