Anna-Sophie Berger

»let rise, let go«


21er Raum at 21er Haus, Vienna

November 6 — 30, 2014


Upon entering Anna-Sophie Berger’s show at the 21er Raum, one encounters a distinctive scent of freshly baked bread. Bread as a basis for nutrition is synonymous with our existential needs. The “daily bread” can be seen as a symbol of the emergence of human culture, of the simple procedure and recipe that includes the baking of material as the basis of human production, which is expressed through its various religious and social connotations. 

Anna-Sophie Berger uses whole-grain bread sculptures as manifestations of deceleration and negotiates degrees of cultural fragmentation and uprooting: with hardly more than a week spent at the same place, the contemporary artist’s daily routines can hardly be defined by geographic characteristics. The baking of bread, together with the everyday life of the artist’s mother as a counterpart to that of a digital native fathoms ideas of home and belonging, questions for stable elements that depend on a predefined structure as, for example, a list of ingredients. 

In the present case, baking bread can be seen here as sculptural production, even though the outcome is ephemeral. The bread loaves are not processed for conservation, but are, on the contrary, hardening during the course of the exhibition to be finally shredded and fed to animals, by which the cycle is closed.

Bread and its organic lability are representative of a material reality that contrasts the textile panels and their respective motifs. Digital photographs are printed on various polyester fabrics whose textile structure imitates such natural textiles as silk or cotton. The images have been selected from a multitude of snapshots taken compulsively with a mobile phone camera – fragments of Anna-Sophie Berger’s everyday life. She describes the pictures as “visual illustration of an incessant thought process”, and the panels “as an attempt to probe the relation between material and information”.

The panels are up to 65 feet long, each confined to a single image repeating itself and referring ever again to the difference between digital and physical quantity. The pixelated grain of the enlarged photographic material formally makes for a poetic effect, suggesting closeness while romanticizing rather than documenting a situation. Depicted are a chess piece from the Medieval Collection of the Cloisters Museum in New York, gems from the Natural History Museum in Vienna, a molecular cooking dish, eggshells, and a broken salad plate – intact and fragmented objects of a very distinct physical materiality and texture – cultural artifacts and food. Digitally processed before having been printed, they are already artificial representations of natural surface qualities. The juxtaposition mirrors the perception of a specific space that Berger inhabits as an artist tourist, oscillating between cultural reception, artistic agent, and the daily commodity of nutrition regardless of place and context. 

Both groups are charged with contemporary doubts about cultural affiliation, internationality, identity, location of self, geopolitics, and ethical goals – emphasized by the text collages on the glass works. Notes taken simultaneously in time and space complete the inner discourse. As fragments of thoughts they indicate a certain conflict, a persistent hovering between options.

What are we to eat if emotions and individual socialization define our consumption just as much as ecological and ethical reflections should, whilst keeping in mind financial reality? How can our needs be sustainably satisfied and what can we feel responsible for? What could be the balance between life and its virtual representation?

Berger’s exhibition in the 21er Raum reflects on the complex relation between social needs, political responsibility and economic reality. A desire for certain things seems to override the capacity to judge one’s own decisions sufficiently. The impossibility to do the one right thing is reflected in an interplay between yielding and resisting, warm and cold – silk and cotton. Her works try to fathom a balance between the immateriality of a digital world and a still-physical human existence, in the end negotiating material itself. What is the form and texture of an image? Objects of both symbolic and emotional value within a loop of material representations is what Anna-Sophie Berger leaves you with: A confusion by relating the self to a changing world where effigy and objects tend to be more and more indistinguishable.


Anna-Sophie Berger’s work negotiates specific characteristics of material and production while reflecting upon the context of objects and their distribution. Her work probes the boundaries of disciplines and their fluent transitions in order to reach a critical understanding of individual motivations and feelings. She is interested in the daily tension between physical reality, sensual needs of a social being, and an increasingly digital perception of life.

Anna-Sophie Berger was born in Vienna, where she lives and works, in 1989. Her work has recently been shown at Mauve (Vienna), JTT (New York), Mathew (Berlin), Suzanne Geiss Company (New York), Tanya Leighton (Berlin), and Clearing (Brussels).


Exhibition catalogue:
21er Raum 2012 – 2016
Edited by Agnes Husslein-Arco and Severin Dünser
Including texts by Severin Dünser, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Paul Feigelfeld, Agnes Husslein-Arco, Lili Reynaud-Dewar and Luisa Ziaja on exhibitions by Anna-Sophie Berger, Andy Boot, Vittorio Brodmann, Andy Coolquitt, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Iman Issa, Barbara Kapusta, Susanne Kriemann, Adriana Lara, Till Megerle, Adrien Missika, Noële Ody, Sarah Ortmeyer, Mathias Pöschl, Rosa Rendl, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Anja Ronacher, Constanze Schweiger, Zin Taylor, Philipp Timischl, Rita Vitorelli and Salvatore Viviano
Graphic design by Atelier Liska Wesle, Vienna/Berlin
Softcover, 21 × 29,7 cm, 272 pages, numerous illustrations in color
Belvedere, Vienna, 2016
ISBN 978-3-903114-18-0