In an increasingly rootless and navigable world, we search for anything that will provide us with a clear sense of place and belonging. In the exhibition Wanderlust, Brooklyn- and Munich-based duo Venske & Spänle address the paradoxical urges for mobility and permanence with their lively, sometimes-whimsical biomorphic marble sculptures. Carved from pure white Lasa marble, quarried in the mountains of northern Italy, the pieces emerge in stages and over thousands of miles—rough cuts made at the quarry are given greater shape in the couple’s Munich studio, and the pieces are refined to their final shape and sheen in the Brooklyn studio months later. Each imbued with a distinctive personality, the sculptures have an almost pet-like quality; they are mischievous or curious, frightened or antsy, full of an activity and quality of motion uncommon for the usually-austere medium.
In Wanderlust, the pieces, seemingly world-weary and longing for a sense of place, bring nostalgic tokens of home with them. A grouping of tall and slender pieces crowds the front of the gallery where a 300 square foot diorama of the Southern Tyrol consumes the walls, one piece slumped over, dragging a chunk of raw mica slate from the mountain along with it; in another room a smaller piece nestles into an empty bucket of sauerkraut, while another seems to be greedily guzzling a liter of Bavarian beer. Yet this sense of home is entirely fabricated and ephemeral—the empty boxes, the bottles and even the faux mountain landscape will all deteriorate long before the stone, leaving the pieces abandoned, and posing the questions where did I come from and why am I here?
Venske & Spänle’s work has been exhibited and placed in collections throughout the globe, including the U.S. and Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. Their work will be included in upcoming museum exhibitions at Koelnischer Kunstverein, Museumsinsel bad Homburg, and the Arp Museum. Wanderlust marks their fourth solo exhibition with Thatcher Projects.