The exhibition takes its title from a mathematical theorem proving the minimum number of colors needed to successfully create a map. The works on view set an eye towards the diagrammatic representation of space and time and how it affects, and layers over, daily lived experience. Pinsky’s work has often turned its attention to the cities which have hosted her exhibitions, analyzing their specific local histories and how they might fit into larger global interconnections. As Brussels is Pinsky’s adopted home (along with Berlin) Four Color Theorem looks at the city as a dwelling place as well as a transitory site, and takes habitation as an abstract, but nonetheless pragmatic, starting point.
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer encounters seven aluminum disks suspended from the vaulted ceiling. On the outside of the central disk is a photograph of Theodor Scheimpflug’s perspective-correcting early aerial surveillance camera, invented in 1897. Heptagonal photographs produced by this camera, which were rephotographed by Pinsky at the Bundesamt für Eich-und Vermessungswesen (Federal Office for Metrology and Topography) in Vienna, are printed on the verso of the seven aluminum disks. The images are the fossils of the technological ancestor of the present-day cameras used to create Google satellite and street view imagery.
Pinsky consulted those same omnipresent Google MapsTM to sculpt the bronze scale-models in the space on the right. Reconciling these technical images with her lived experience of the disparate places she inhabits—Koekelberg in Brussels, and Hansaviertel in Berlin—Pinsky’s sculptures divide the two neighborhoods into fragments. Each small section becomes a microcosm in itself as she attempts to equalize the two contrasting residential areas.
Koekelberg is the smallest municipality in the Brussels region, made up of three-story townhouses from the early 20th century and an enormous Basilica that looms over the neighborhood. Half of this Basilica is in the adjacent neighborhood, Jette, and is not included in the model. Meanwhile, the Hansaviertel is a planned community in the center of Berlin built for the 1957 Interbau architectural exhibition, with midcentury modern apartment buildings designed by architects such as Alvar Aalto, Walter Gropius, Oscar Niemeyer and Egon Eiermann. In Pinsky’s models, their forms are rendered in the same style as the newer sections of the neighborhood, which were not part of the Interbau. They blend into the vernacular architectural style of Berlin, and become confused with the newer sections of Koekelberg.
The large mural in the central space of the gallery features such an “unremarkable” apartment building from the Hansaviertel, at Bachstr. 5-6, a wide housing complex which seemingly learned little from its Interbau neighbors. A large diagram of a truck carries an abstract heavy load. Hovering above these quotidian elements of the urban landscape are various ancient celestial maps, from the Nebra Sky Disk to a pair of astronomical charts from the Joseon Dynasty in 18th century Korea. The twins of the Gemini constellation, taken from an early Renaissance Book of Hours by Venturino Mercati from Milan (ca. 1470) hang near a chart explaining the calendar function of the Berlin Golden Hat.
In the gallery’s left side wing are aligned models of the Golden Hat. Their colored bands explicate the calendar function of the seemingly decorative rings on the original Bronze Age European artifact, included in the collection of the Neues Museum in Berlin. Red and blue stand for the solar and lunar months, with green as the subtracted area to account for the discrepancy with modern calculations. The sequence of the objects proceeds in calendar order from 1 solar year/12 lunar months to 4 3⁄4 solar years/59 lunar months. In the rooms at the rear of the gallery are wall tapestries embroidered with charts elaborating on the calculations of the Golden Hat’s calendar function.
The works presented here at CLEARING attempt to join the microcosm and the macrocosm. They counterpose the mundane aspects of daily life transiting around and between cities, or walking around one’s small neighborhood, with the transit of stars in the heavens while also imagining the architecture of the universe. In this exceptionally difficult period of time around the entire world, the artist hopes to bring art viewers in Brussels some levity and a slight shift in perspective.