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Tea Bags on Eyelids @Neun Kelche

Overworked and underslept, artist duo Julia Gryboś and Barbora Zentková examine how capitalist work practices are driving us to collective exhaustion.


Text by Anna Ratcliff

Wrought black iron shapes the outlines of snaking benches and sculptural room dividers. Upon these are woven natural-coloured ropes flecked with blue, beige and ochre; at first, these strands are held taut as if by a loom, then spread onto the floor in undulating waves. The exhibition feels peaceful, the seats invite you to pause, and the folding dividers provide privacy, which are important offerings in an age where seclusion is undervalued and constant productivity is applauded.

The mystic Of The Arcane Magic

Currently on show at Weißensee’s exciting young project space Neun Kelche, named after the tarot card, Tea Bags on Eyelids recalls the home remedy to relieve the tell-tale signs of tiredness: dark circles, puffiness, and redness under the eyes. This serene installation environment is by artist duo Julia Gryboś and Barbora Zentková. Working with each other since 2010, they continuously focus on chronic fatigue and collective exhaustion as the by-products of a neoliberal society.

Many materials and techniques within the pieces relate to self-soothing from capitalist work practices. For instance, beeswax candles are melted down into dew drop-shaped moulds, adding a touch of hygge and releasing a relaxing aromatic scent. The weaving is reminiscent of macramé, a centuries-old knotting technique gaining popularity again, in part because of the meditative properties of the recurring actions performed in making it. Lastly, referring back to the title, tea and herbs are used as organic dyes for the textiles, both the thread and soft translucent curtains. In these elements, craft techniques are fastened together with cures to quell anxious minds.

Don’t miss the sonic performance on August 31st!

To accompany the calming sights, smells, and textures: Gryboś and Zentková have been routinely working with musicians to activate their site-specific installations. The performers compose hypnotic scores, which they play to the point of physical exhaustion. At the finissage, Jan Tomáš’ ethereal music, with ambient reverberated guitar over a distant minimalistic drone, will fill the space. This event also marks the final day of the Project Space Festival, celebrating the city’s most experimental artist-orientated initiatives. For each day in August, a different project space is highlighted, often with an opening or event. Join Neun Kelche on August 31st for the sound performance and the last day to see Tea Bags on Eyelids.


Tea Bags on Eyelids

Julia Gryboś & Barbora Zentková


28.07 – 31.08.22
Neun Kelche
Pasedagplatz 3-4, 13088 Berlin

Julia Gryboś & Barbora Zentková, Tea Bags on Eyelids, 2022. Photo: Dorothea Dittrich