Astrid Klein is best known for her large-format black and white ‘photoworks’—composite images comprised of magazine and newspaper photographs subjected to different printing and processing techniques in the darkroom. A manipulator of the photographic medium since the late 1970s, the artist has consistently examined the estrangement of self, experience and expression within the context of media culture. Klein has also persistently interrogated the photograph as an accurate representation of reality, simultaneously deconstructing and renewing our relationship to images in other mediums, such as collage, painting and neon sculpture.
For SB14, Klein presents a selection of works in various mediums that probe conventions of perception. In her sculpture Flycatcher III (1987–1991), she suspends and strings together UV light insect traps and fluorescent lamps, creating a human-scale, cataclysmic encounter with light. In the wall-bound sculpture Untitled (Better to burn out than fade away) (1998), she conjures sensations of levity but also weight and connection in her glowing neon chain nestled amid pieces of worn rope, materials often used to bind, tie and toe that resonate with UAE maritime history. In two works from her ‘White Paintings’ series, Untitled (What are you fighting for) (1988–1992) and Untitled (Nothing to Remember) (1988–1993), the artist indexes various mediums, such as alabaster, crystal and plaster, that plumb the perceptual limits between painterly abstraction and tactile surface while engaging with the long history of the white monochrome.