Lena Henke - Las Pozas (2017/2019)
For DELIRIOUS, the German artist Lena Henke (b. 1982) brought together two visions of the Garden of Eden. At De Oude Warande, created as a Baroque garden paradise for Prince Wilhelm von Hessen-Kassel in the eighteenth century, she has placed two sculptures based on Edward James’s notion of paradise: Las Pozas in Mexico, where the British poet once had a jungle garden made, full of pagodas and surrealistic buildings. Henke placed two reflective aluminium sculptures on either side of the path just after the main entrance, as a sort of gate for visitors to walk through. Close to these eye-shaped sculptures, convex mirrors adorn monumental beech trees, like enormous lenses, reflecting not only the sculptures but also the landscapes and the visitors. This first work in the exhibition set the tone. It was not only an aesthetic and alienating welcome but also a warning: you are not only seeing, you are also being seen.
Henke is interested in spatial planning and design, with relation to landscapes and cities. She is particularly fascinated by people such as Von Hessen-Kassel and James, who turned their ideal images of the world into realities in our physical space. Another such individual was Robert Moses, the famous and infamous brain behind urban developments in Henke’s hometown of New York. He was responsible for introducing parks, bridges androads that resulted in many people’s living environment changing dramatically or disappearing. Moses’s work and the city of New York form an endless source of inspiration for Henke.
She uses silk, carpet, Plexiglas, plastic and epoxy to make surrealistic sculptures that combine to form spatial installations – for example, in the form of the map of Manhattan. Henke also frequently allows design and architecture to merge with the female body in her work. This happens, for example, in her series Female Fatigue,
which consists of aluminium models of buildings in New York combined with moulded-sand sculptures of the female form. Allusions to feminist performance artists are connected here to objects in the visual idiom of Modernism. In this way, Henkecriticizes the patriarchal structure of art history and architecture, appropriating the past in order to tell the dominant narratives in a different way.