Astrid Busch

30. December 2020 to 31. January 2021

The artist Astrid Busch (* 1968) lives and works in Berlin. In January 2021, she took part in the artist-in-residence programme of the Museum Kunst der Westküste. She used her time on the North Sea island of Föhr to explore the destructive power of the sea through artistic means.


Cameras, overhead projector, scanner, transparent foils, rich pictorial material, historical postcards, found materials from the island, Polaroids: Astrid Busch's temporary Alkersum studio, located directly behind Museum Kunst der Westküste, already indicated an exciting working process. Simultaneously frightened and fascinated by reports of tsunamis and monster waves, the artist researched the internet for photographs of these phenomena. She scanned, projected and photographed the material she found in a variety of ways, often in complex overlays with other images. In a further step, Astrid Busch illuminated the photographs of these stratifications with light sources, such as her mobile phone torch, in order to deliberately destroy them. In her works created on Föhr, light thus acts as a compositional element with which she simultaneously paints, irritates, alienates - and devastates.


The idea to experiment with light and mood came to the artist back in October 2019, when she visited the MKdW to plan her spatial installation "sur mer" (2018), which was presented in 2020 in the exhibition SEE STÜCKE. Facts and Fiction presented. During this stay, Astrid Busch discovered the painting "Northern Lights" by the Norwegian landscape painter Peder Balke (1804-1887) in the anniversary exhibition 10 Years MKdW to the museum's collection. The painting remained in her memory because of its abstract formal language and dramatic lighting and gave her important impulses for her creative work on Föhr. In addition, the direct proximity to nature and "the awareness of being completely surrounded by the sea" influenced her.  These experiences, which she enjoyed on bicycle rides across the island, prompted Astrid Busch to leave out the urban element that is characteristic of her work and to concentrate entirely on the themes of sea and light.


Peder Balke, Nordlicht, um 1870, Öl auf Holz, Privatsammlung,
in der Ausstellung "10 Jahre MKdW", 2019



The final photographic works possess an aesthetic of desolation. In them, the threatening elemental force of the sea confronts us as a feeling. Astrid Busch lets us participate in an aesthetic experience that is like experiencing monstrous wave crests or the storm-lashed sea. In the process, we oscillate between knowing and assuming, as it remains unclear what is actually physically present and what is the result of artistic abstraction. These works do not have a fixed conclusion. It is quite possible that they will continue to develop in site-specific installations and thus create new associative spaces.



Astrid Busch, o.T., 2021, Archival Pigment Print