Manfred Pernice (Hildesheim, 1963) is one of the artists who has contributed the most to defining the aesthetics linked to post-Unification Berlin, aesthetics made up of transformation and urban ruins, postwar memory and socio-economic reinvention. After studying in Braunschwei and Berlin, in 1990 Pernice moved to the German capital during a period when the city was beginning to attract artists, architects, writers and musicians, transforming the moment of reunification into an explosion of creative energy. Pernice’s work – which prevalently concerns sculpture and installation – holds within it the concept of continuous urban transformation that characterized Berlin for over a decade, but he does not hesitate to deal with other more complex and problematic aspects concerning the political and cultural history of the German capital and reunified Germany.
In Pernice’s work modern architecture – or what often remains of it – becomes a palimpsest of crossed narratives, traumas that are never dormant, the idiosyncrasies of politics and ideology. It is for this reason that the artist’s sculptures – which often take on the size and spatial articulation of the installation – are in many cases realized with found materials and objects such as plywood, fragments of furniture and industrial containers, surfaces and objects that betray a transitory nature and a recent past. These structures are often the product of the aggregation of volumes and materials that are mutually heterogeneous, as if to recount the mechanism of urban development in a continuous dialectic of demolition and construction, and they are often enriched with various elements such as photographs, newspaper clippings, sketches or drawings, fragments of images and videos, whose function is to fuel a multiplicity of overlapping narratives so as to blend between them individual memory and History, personal experience and collective conscience. Architecture becomes a mirror and a sound-box of this multitude of temporal perceptions in a study on the repercussions of ideology and History in the inhabitable and viable space, on both a domestic and urban scale.
The works shown here – both of which Untitled – were presented in Naples in 2009, on the occasion of the artist’s solo show at Galleria Fonti entitled Mauer-stüke (“Pieces of Wall”), evidently alluding both to the specificity of the Berlin Wall and the concept of “wall” in general. In this work the artist uses inexpensive materials such as wood, plywood, metal and photographs to make structures that are, at the same time, simple and complex, in which the elements converse with each other to suggest new networks of meaning. In both works, elements borrowed from the urban and domestic space are unshackled of their functional nature and they trigger a subtle criticism before architecture perceived as eternal and peremptory value, in favor of the idea of a temporary and fragile inhabitable space. This also explains why Pernice’s work is showcased in the same room as the works of the exponents of the Radical Architecture movement, such as Superstudio and Riccardo Dalisi and photographic series by Ettore Sottsass, in which the archetypes of architecture are portrayed in all their transience.