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IN THE STUDIO WITH MARGARET INNERHOFER

A conscious look at the conceptual-artist's solo show SHADOWLAND

It is the first Saturday of Upstate Art Weekend and I am standing in a chemistry classroom of a former public school looking at inverted works, listening to Gregorian chants meets Jimi Hendrix inspired music, and feeling that I am falling into a trance. In reality, I am meeting the artist Margaret Innerhofer for the first time at her solo show SHADOWLAND, at Ethan Cohen Gallery at The Kube Art Center in Beacon, NY. The renowned gallery describes her exhibition as:


“Photo-based prints and framed canvases that explore the transitional spaces between spiritual and psychological borderlands. Each of the large-scale meditative compositions printed in color has a jarring and surreal black and white reflection that invites the viewer into an alternate psychological and temporal dimension.”


So, what is behind these works laden with heavy and deep symbolism of awake versus sleep? I sat down with the elegant and stylish Margaret to understand how a dreamy child from the Tyrolean mountains became a philosophical artist in Beacon, NY. It turns out that we are all in a trance.

SHADOWLAND at Ethan Cohen Gallery at The Kube Art Center in Beacon


Let’s begin with your upbringing. Where were you born and raised?

I was born, and raised in the Tyrolean Alps, Italy, immersed in the idyllic beauty of its nature and harmonious sounds. My childhood was filled with long mountain climbs, horseback riding, yodeling, playing the guitar and drums, and singing Gregorian chants in a strict convent boarding school.

I found fascination in Western movies and the Apache Indian lifestyle, particularly their deep connection with nature and the imagery of wild horses roaming freely in vast deserts, accompanied by their rhythmic chants and drum circles.


These early experiences forged a profound bond with the natural world, which continues to be a driving force behind my visual and sonic artistic expression.

SHADOWLAND at Ethan Cohen Gallery at The Kube Art Center in Beacon


What was your first introduction to art, and how did you start evolving as an artist?

During my Architectural and Fine Art studies, I relocated to Milan, a city that would leave a lasting impact on my artistic path. Dating an artist during that time exposed me to a bohemian lifestyle and immersed me in Milan's dynamic art, architecture, and design scene. The conceptual and minimalist concepts of the Arte Povera Movement captivated me, drawing me deeper into the contemporary art world.


Socially engaging with fellow artists and actively attending art shows in galleries and museums across Italy and Europe, I was inspired by the diverse expressions of creativity. My early fascination with photography, particularly the works of conceptual artists from the Dada and Surrealist Movements, like Man Ray and Andre Breton, further fueled my artistic interests.


This multifaceted exposure played a pivotal role in shaping me as an artist. It broadened my horizons, offered fresh perspectives, and allowed me to find my own artistic voice.

DECONSTR-ACTIVIST II, 2023


You now have a solo show called SHADOWLAND at Ethan Cohen Gallery at The Kube Art Center in Beacon, NY. What is the main inspiration for the three different series: Sandmen, Heavy Metal, and Deconstr-Activist?

In my latest exhibition, I delve into the intricate realms of the subconscious, guided by profound philosophical and scientific readings. Carl Jung’s exploration of collective consciousness has deeply fascinated me, leading me to explore how our subconscious influences our waking decisions and movements.


Through my artwork, I seek to unravel the enigma of our subconscious control, drawing inspiration from scientific research, which reveals that a significant 80% of human behavior is governed by our subconscious, heavily influenced by experiences from our formative years, particularly ages 0 to 10. This revelation sheds light on why logical arguments may often be overshadowed by emotional reactions rooted in the gut.


Another crucial thread in my exhibition revolves around the environment. I have been an environmental activist well before it became a trend, and I’ve actively co-produced environmental films and fought against practices like fracking. In SHADOWLAND, the subjects in my works interact with nature, and, in many instances, nature appears to reclaim them. This theme highlights the fragile bond between humanity and the natural world, provoking contemplation on our relationship with the environment.

SANDMEN III, 2023

Signature on the back. Archival Pigment Print on Hahnemühle Cotton Canvas,

152.4 x 152.4 cm, 60 x 60 in, Edition of 3


Is it this exploration into the subconscious why the artworks are designed to be inverted? That they can be hung in either vertical orientation?

As I present my art to viewers, I give them the unique opportunity to evoke different visual and emotional responses by allowing them to choose how to hang each piece. They can opt for the color side up, revealing a figurative and realistic view of the artwork. Alternatively, they can explore the more conceptual, surreal, abstract, and volumetric perspective of the black-and-white 'Shadow image' when it faces upward.


What's intriguing is that showing the 'Shadow image' facing up, actually, represents a more realistic worldview, one that most people might be unaware of. It's a perspective that delves into the subconscious, which I believe rules humanity and 'runs the show.' It's a fascinating paradox: while the color side portrays the conscious perception of the world—what's readily visible—the 'Shadow image' uncovers the hidden depths and complexities that shape our lives.


By offering this choice of orientation, I invite viewers to question their own understanding of reality and delve into the intricacies of their subconscious minds. This art goes beyond mere aesthetics; it prompts introspection and contemplation, creating a multi-layered experience that challenges us to consider the complexities of human perception.

DECONSTR - ACTIVIST III, 2023

Signature on the back. Archival Pigment Print on Hahnemühle Cotton Canvas,

109.2 x 109.2 cm, 43 x 43 in, Edition of 3


Looking specifically at the three different subjects, can you first tell us more about Deconstr-Activist?

My Deconstr-Activist series draws inspiration from the 'Deconstructivism' architectural movement, challenging the rationality of modernism and embracing and revealing chaos and complexity. I delve into the intriguing world of shadows, volumes, negative versus positive space, and the interplay between light and darkness. This exploration stems from my background in architecture, which ignited my fascination with these artistic elements.


Throughout the series, I endeavor to capture neglected structures that are gradually being reclaimed by nature. By doing so, I aim to shed light on the physical structures we create to accommodate our fragmented psyches. The juxtaposition of abandoned structures being overtaken by nature serves as a compelling visual metaphor for the inherent fragility and impermanence of human constructs.

HEAVY METAL – VOLKS WAGEN, 2023

Signature on the back. Archival Pigment Print on Hahnemühle Cotton Canvas,

109.2 x 109.2 cm, 43 x 43 in, Edition of 3


What about Heavy Metal?

In my "Heavy Metal" series, the transition from the pristine mountain range to the Hudson Valley exposed me to a striking contrast—defunct cars replacing the beauty of flowers in many backyards. This encounter sparked an obsession, leading me to spend years capturing these scenes with vintage analog Leica cameras, which I acquired from flea markets, embracing the slight imperfections in their lenses as a welcomed artistic element.


In this body of work, I explore my fascination with American vintage cars left abandoned and outdated, captured within the passage of time and the encroachment of nature. Each photograph alludes to the poignant collision between the past and the future, symbolizing our own embodiment within these vehicles that are increasingly outdated, yet perpetually trapped in the present.


In "Heavy Metal," I seek to evoke a sense of nostalgia while urging reflection on the transient nature of our material possessions and the fleeting nature of human creations. The juxtaposition of these forgotten vehicles with the ever-encroaching embrace of nature serves as a poignant reminder of the impermanence of all things, urging us to ponder our place in the grand tapestry of time and the inescapable passage into the unknown future.

SANDMEN I, 2023

On the back. Archival Pigment Print on Hahnemühle Cotton Canvas,

152.4 x 152.4 cm, 60 x 60 in, Edition of 3


And finally, what can you tell us about Sandmen?

Within each frame, beachgoers blissfully inhabit the horizon, seemingly unaware of their inverted doppelgängers lurking just below the surface. This juxtaposition of colors and reflections becomes a visual metaphor for the duality of human existence—the conscious experience of the moment above the surface and the hidden depths of the subconscious below.


Drawing inspiration from Carl Jung's concept of the Shadow persona and Quantum Physics, I explore how these profound elements influence human actions and behaviors. The dreamy beachscapes serve as a canvas for contemplating the interplay between our conscious and unconscious selves, the tangible and the intangible aspects of our existence.


In this series, I invite viewers to immerse themselves in the enigmatic world of "Sandmen," where time seems to stand still, and the boundaries between reality and imagination blur. The photographs become a gateway to introspection, inviting you to reflect on the transient nature of human experiences and the profound complexities that shape our perceptions and actions.

Heavy Metal


What is your favorite piece in the show and why?

As an artist, it's challenging for me to pick a favorite, each image represents a moment of inspiration, creativity, and a reflection of my inner world. Each image carries a distinct essence, resonating with different viewers in various ways.


Together with the sound piece 'Shadowland' that I have composed, performed, and recorded specifically for this show, the fusion and synergy between my visual art and sound adds a multi-dimensional layer to the overall experience.


The fusion of visual and auditory expressions allows each piece to resonate on a deeper level, connecting with viewers in unique and profound ways.

SANDMEN II, 2023

On the back. Archival Pigment Print on Hahnemühle Cotton Canvas,

152.4 x 152.4 cm, 60 x 60 in, Edition of 3


What is next on the horizon?

A beach vacation in Italy is on the immediate horizon!


Margaret Innerhofer: SHADOWLAND

Ethan Cohen Gallery at the KuBe Art Center

211 Fishkill Ave, Beacon, NY 12508

May 13 – October 1, 2023


About The Kube Art Center

The KuBe (Kunsthalle Beacon) repurposes the site of a former high school as a space to promote international exchange of culture and art, as well as unite local and global artists in a community forum.

Acting as a platform for artists to continually create and present work to collectors, curators, and fellow artists, the KuBe also supports emerging artists through work spaces, residencies, and exhibitions for the Beacon and New York arts community. The KuBe encompasses the Beacon location of Ethan Cohen Gallery, experimental art spaces, 48 artists' studios, and commercial office spaces. The Turbine special projects room, the Zhu Chongmao and Zheng Ruyu Theater, and the Jerome A. Cohen and Joan Lebold Cohen Art Center comprise the remainder of the space. Future developments for the KuBe include an art café and a gallery concept store. The sprawling landscape and natural beauty of the historic Hudson Valley make the KuBe an ideal site for lectures and performances, film screenings, and avant-garde experiments amidst a growing artistic community.

We wish to extend an invitation to the Beacon community to participate in the growth of this important incubator for the next generation of promising local and international artists. Please join us in support of emerging artists and established artists from the U.S., Europe, Africa, China, and beyond.


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