Indepth Arts News: |
"Pia Dehne: I'm So Happy I Could Die"
2002-12-16 until 2003-02-24
Laura Mars Group
"I'm so happy I could die" is Pia Dehne's first exhibition consisting exclusively of drawings.
Influenced both by Classic German Modernism and the "ultra-brutal" style of the Italian artist
Tanino Liberatore's "Rank Xerox" comics, Dehne, born in 1964, has captured over two years‚
worth of transitory images from her everyday life: eighty drawings based on snapshots which,
taken together, could make up an associative "diary." Situated between a personal approach and a
formal distance, Dehne sketches urban life in New York and Berlin, characterized as it is by a
longing for ecstasy as well as by superficiality.
The fleeting moment of total happiness is so
beautiful that one could just die: in reference to the song title of a Japanese punk rock band,
Dehne's drawing series unites a variety of contradictory attitudes. "I'm so happy I could die"
is both an authentic testimony and a stylistic construct that, not entirely without irony, cites the
myths of the art establishment as well as the club scene. Regardless of whether Dehne's drawings
depict an electro girl band, people gathered at an art opening, cowboys in Wyoming, the deejay
Westbam, Andreas Gursky's photographs, or a bartender somewhere in downtown Manhattan,
the autobiographical tenor of these works is always accompanied by the basic character of the
In the social web Dehne portrays in "I'm so happy I could die," the differences
among VIPs, friends, and strangers can no longer be clearly discerned. Absolute democracy reigns
in her series of images: profession, social status, race, and sex play no evident role here; nor does a
unifying drawing style. It almost seems as though not only the mood, but also the signature of each
drawing changes according to the respective encounter, although references to George Grosz and
Tom of Finland can also be detected. The trip Dehne takes with "I'm so happy I could die"
through various scenes and milieux on both sides of the Atlantic, implies a journey through
various cultural forms, without separating "high" from "low" Her drawing series clings to an
anarchic hope: that the greatest possible beauty attainable by a given state simultaneously signifies its end.