The work of artist Ulla von Brandenburg (Karlsruhe, Germany, 1974) is shaped by her early training as a stage designer and a brief stint in the world of theatre, two cornerstones of her work. The variety of mediums and techniques — installations, films, murals, performances — represent a meticulous control of stage language with which the artist meshes other areas of interest such as psychoanalysis, magic and esoteric rituals to investigate social structures and put forward new alternatives.
Von Brandenburg’s installations give rise to subjective spaces which immerse the spectator in suspended places that straddle reality and fiction. The artist resignifies the once impassable fourth wall, often employing curtains and drapery which rather than establishing a dividing line with visitors, encourage them to participate in the work and become part of the scene. Thus, she champions a concept of the arts that is much more permeable and less hierarchical and one which encourages an exchange between spectator and actor. Further, her attraction to colour underlines the influence of Wolfgang von Goethe, whose theories conferred an emotional and phenomenological quality to colours, refuting the theory of Isaac Newton and his claim they were merely physics.
The Palacio de Velázquez in the Retiro Park becomes the ideal context for a new installation by the artist, whereby visitors knowingly move deeper into the space and activate a staging that interweaves the individual and the collective, reminding us that life is a theatre in which everyone chooses the role they wish to play. On this occasion, the artist incorporates into the exhibition structure a selection of her films, most of which are recorded in a single long shot to encourage spectators to move through this new staging of spaces and overlapping stories.
Ulla von Brandenburg has exhibited her work at the Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst in Bremen (2022), the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2020), Whitechapel Gallery in London (2018), Kunstmuseum Bonn (2018), the Pérez Art Museum Miami (2016) and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2016), among other museums and institutions.