Uncanny Valley – Reviews

“(…) And the latest exhibition at the Neue Galerie in the Höhmannhaus also takes a close look at AI and ChatGPT – as the first of three artistic contributions to this theme there. Erika Kassnel-Henneberg, a gilder, restorer, designer, Augsburg university lecturer and artist who was born in 1973 and lives in Diedorf, raises a number of deliberately open questions on the basis of seven videos and several Polaroid photos. If one faces these questions, thoughtfulness, even unease fills the rooms. Certainly, the effects of AI and ChatGPT are the subject of lively and controversial discussion – and yet (for the time being?) amazement and curiosity about the new technology seem to outweigh any misgivings.(…)” Rüdiger Heinze, Künstliche Intelligenz: Unbehagen im Höhmannhaus, Augsburger Allgemeine vom 16.02.2023

“(…)Can and may we bring people back to life through old photographs? Can we enjoy portraits of people who never existed? And do we still need people at all to perform human acts?

Erika Kassnel-Henneberg’s works do not provide answers, but they ask the right questions. With AI-generated images based on old photographs or her own voice commands, with footage material of dancers and robots. In addition, she experiments with her own biographical elements. The result is an artistic (or artificial) aesthetic observation of the current state of virtualisation, in which even the good old Lego brick has its place as an analogue pixel.(…)” Manuel Schedl, Nicht-Existenzen, A3 Kultur vom 13.02.2023

Foto: Manuel Schedl

Exhibition view

Artist talk

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Uncanny Valley – Artist Talk

On 23 February 2023, an artist talk took place in the rooms of the Neue Galerie im Höhmannhaus, moderated by Dr. Thomas Elsen, director of the Neue Galerie im Höhmannhaus. The event lasted approx. 90 min.

Excerpt: about the Lego survey

Excerpt: Erika, where is your Uncanny Valley?

Excerpt: about Deep Paula

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Art Award Winners 2022

“Erika Kassnel-Henneberg’s media are collage, photography and video. The content of her works revolves around her own as well as found memories and their artistic reflection. The focus of her interest is always the human being with his subjective perception and his ability to remember, to forget, to associate and to create consciously or unconsciously his own utopia. In doing so, the artist characterizes forgetting as an ability, not as a deficit. At the same time, she embeds this approach, which is her own, in an expanded, existential questioning. “Today we know that memory is neither true, nor objective, nor complete. We lay traces, collect documents and photographs, and archive them. I see in this an existential doubt: who am I really if I cannot trust my memory and the memory of others? If I leave no traces, did I ever exist?”

Already in her earlier collage works, which are of high aesthetic quality and testify to a sensitive handling of the materials used, the confrontation with her own history is reflected. As viewers, we find in these artistic images assembled from drawing, frottage, various papers, photographs and wax, again and again a fundamental reflection on the nature of memory. This is also evident in the artist’s Polaroids, which represent a concentrated group of works in their own right. Technical observations (e.g. of “noise” as a physical quantity) are reflected here in her own aesthetic designs: “The Polaroid camera makes memory visible. It has a subjective and flawed view of the world. In it, the present rushes and leaves behind a vague view of the past.” We also find this in the experimental video works, which, for all their technical sophistication, sometimes seem almost like moving, faded images from a family album of days gone by. All of this together results in a homogeneous overall artistic design that is convincingly in line with the extremely conscientiously constructed CV in the artist’s application letter.”

Excerpt from the jury’s statement for the 2022 Art Award ceremony 2022/09/26

Ansichtssache – Review

Excerpt from the opening speech by Helm Zirkelbach on the occasion of the exhibition “Ansichtssache” in Münsingen:

With the 365 art cards on black wooden panels by Eri Kassnel, a third, completely different handwriting enters the art game of the cards and we can easily recognise many religious motifs, images of saints and representations of the Mother of God and the Child Jesus. The artist begins to interweave these with photographs from her own past, thus connecting in a fascinating way living people she knows herself, like her own mother, and interweaves them with the Mother of God, places her in the centre, or puts another larger head on the representation of the saint, which irritates and makes me wonder with what ease this seems to succeed.

The good Catholic believes in a God who is a person, but this cannot be proven and one must believe in it in order to then recognise it as reality. The soul is then the symbol that circumscribes the unity of the human and divine personhood. Eri Kassnel’s depictions of this mother-son bond show this balancing act for me.
For me, Eri Kassnel’s depictions of this mother-son bond show this tightrope walk by inserting people from her environment, for example, in a gold-studded monstrance in a shadowy way and thus releasing them for adoration and veneration.

Or the large black-framed collage over here on the wall, on whitewashed newspaper appears the black-and-white photograph of a woman, perhaps with her two daughters? They are all wearing three dresses made of the same fabric, in the middle is a postcard of a monstrance with figures of saints, above it is handwritten Trinity. Does the Trinity refer to the clothing of the women or to the arrangement and divinity of the persons, that is left to us viewers to decide.

Sometimes in the middle of summer there is autumn, sometimes in the middle of the day something nocturnal, like the negative image of an old tree, I am fascinated and I feel rigid, as if without joints, as if without limbs.
The child, the infant Jesus, is exchanged with perhaps the brother or someone else and it becomes comprehensible to all of us that the infant can only develop by trusting in its mother, only by trusting in another person, can its own personhood develop fruitfully.

The artist also shows us that this cannot always succeed by letting robotic demons appear, by completely blackening and veiling the mother, by inserting a multitude of disturbances into the relationship and we suspect that we ourselves carry an enormous number of disturbances within us.

This seems to me to be the central message of Eri Kassnel’s gruelling and thoroughly disturbing iconic images. But, take a look for yourself and find out where this unusual journey is going.

Helm Zirkelbach, Erika Kassnel-Henneberg, Marlies Achermann-Gisinger and Antje Fischer
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Art Radio Ö1


25 years after the end of the Cold War, a great political distance between Western Europe (e.g. Austria) and Eastern Europe (e.g. Romania) can once again be discerned in many places. The historical elective affinities between the cities of Vienna and Timisoara alone show that this is a distorted picture. For the play “Utopia lives next door”, the authors move through the two cities, inspired by the situationist concept of psychogeographical exploration. The starting points of the “wanderings” are the districts of Innere Stadt and Josefstadt (which exist in Vienna and Timisoara because of their shared history). From the field recordings collected in the process, they compose the soundscape of a utopian city in which the opposition of West and East is suspended. Woven into the composition are sound recordings of contemporary witnesses who remember living together in solidarity in Vienna and Timisoara under difficult social and political conditions in different phases of the 20th century. The quotations are placed in a dialogue-like relationship to each other on the basis of common thematic motifs, which open up a view of the “surplus of the possible in the real” (Erich Köhler) of the real history of Austria and Romania. The speakers are Friederike Brenner (born 1923 in Mödling near Vienna) and Johann Kassnel (born 1932 in Jahrmarkt near Timisoara).

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ArticulAction Art Review

One of the most impressive aspects of Kassnel’s work is her successful attempt to trigger the viewers’ most limbic parameters to investigate about the act of remembering and its relationship with notion of identity (…)

ArticulAction Art Review

An interview by Dario Rutigliano and Barbara Scott in ARTiculAction, published in summer 2016 .

“Since its foundation, ARTiculAction has worked with more than 600 painters, cinematographers and performers, giving to talented and ambitious artist the chance to branch out and get ahead, showing their works off the world through many publications, since it’s becoming more and more important for artists to take the promotion of their image and their art upon themselves. After two successful biennial editions with the participation of hundreds of visual artists, performers and curators from all over the world, we are celebrating our twelve years long activity launching the 2020 biennial edition, that will once again explore new tendencies and trends in Contemporary Art.”

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VideoGUD in Gävleborg

28.04. – 18.05.2016


In Home is Somewhere Else, Eri Kassnel explores the painful experience of being separated from the context and relationships with which we can identify; the loss of a lost existence and the longing to find home again. Through the photo album’s archive of moments, we can immerse ourselves in memories, hoping that the ordered sequence of images can give us candid answers that match the feelings and sensations we want to relive.

But the photographs in Kassnel’s work never suggest a way back. To a certain extent, they carry an actual patina and are associated with an affective value. But to an even greater extent, they are manipulated to recall something familiar, but alien or misleading in that they are instead taken at random from a moving car. The movement possibly indicates a direction away from the unconscious idealisations of nostalgia, and the title of the work opens up a further search. Perhaps the home is not a place but a social process where we have the chance to get to know others? Perhaps we can find home elsewhere?

Eri Kassnel (b. 1973 in Timisoara, Romania) studied at the University of art in Bern and works in Diedorf, Germany. In her installations, collages, photographs and moving image representations, she often returns to the importance of memory in the construction of the self and how notions of origin and homeland are affected by a life in exile. https://videogud.se/program/eri-kassnel/

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