Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to inaugurate our new location with This Much Is Certain, the first New York solo exhibition by German conceptual photographer Ulrich Gebert. With selections from two series of his image-cycles, Typus (2005) and Life among beasts (2009), This Much Is Certain serves as an introduction to Gebert’s work in which he examines explosive topics—such as racism and power structures—via unspectacular motifs presented in quasi-scientific and sometimes unsettlingly humorous arrangements.
In each of the three tableaus from the Typus series, for example, Gebert presents 6-7 photographs of coniferous trees ordered by species. Photographed by trekking to remote botanical gardens and parks, often retracing the steps of 19th century scientists, the Typus tableaus are juxtaposed with an “List of Invalid Names”: a list of Latin terms that are no longer in use, making the reconciliation of competing names a difficult process and shattering the fantasies of their original christenings toward an authoritative ordering of nature. In doing so, Gebert also alludes to the darker side of cataloging nature, specifically with regards to totalitarian categorizations of humans.
Similarly, in the Life among beasts series, Gebert presents tableaus of two to five cropped photographs of humans physically interacting with animals. The results are both disturbing and awkwardly tender. New unusual creatures are suggested through the compositions, as impressions of brutality are counterbalanced with an almost absurd humor. Here again, the crisp aesthetics of the presentation suggest a fantasy of order that undercut by closer consideration.
Ulrich Gebert was born in Munich and lives and works in Munich and Leipzig. He received his Masters in Photography at Royal College of Art, London, and studied at the Glasgow School of Art and with Timm Rautert at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig. Recent exhibitions include a solo show at KLEMM’S in Berlin; a group exhibition at project space 176/Zabludowicz Collection, London; and exhibitions at the Kunstverein Hildesheim, the University of Salamanca, and the Pfaffenhofer Kunstverein.