Jorges Luis Borges Visited Melbourne for 10 Days
5 - 16 March 2007
Katrin Von Maltzahn [Germany]
An essay entitled An Obvious problem by Peter Westwood accompanied this exhibition. Please click here to read.
Since the mid-90s my work has dealt with different aspects of the basic elements of communication. I have realised a number of projects about systems of signs and the learning of languages as well as the techniques necessary to transmit, store and process information.
For my recent work I have used as a starting point, and as a source of inspiration, found language, typography and everyday observations, as well as material related to information structures. This material is fed into a chain of associations that I translate into drawings, paintings, prints or installations. On the one hand my intention is to transform information and cultural artefacts into something new. On the other hand, I try to trace them back to a kind of archaic state - to the point from which they might have developed.
The essence of art-making for me lies in the gaining of knowledge. Each piece comes into being through finding the right balance between planning and intuition.
Charts ' 64 2005
38 drawings, each 50 x 60 cm (installation view: Fridericianum Kassel 2005)
watercolor and pencil on paper, framed, numberings, legend in German & English, Din A 4
exhibited: 2005 Fridericianum, Kassel: 50 Years documenta / archive in motion; 2006 Tour & Taxis, Brüssel, Belgien; DA2.Domus Artium, Salamanca, Spanien; Chongqing Art Museum, China
Each of the thirty-eight medium-format works on paper for "archive in motion" -some of them watercolors, others sketches- reveals a sort of globe or sphere, or fragments of a sphere, circles, or globes, in different colors. The source of the artist's inspiration for these worldimages was statistical evaluations of the archive material of "documenta 3" (1964). For as soon as numbers become available, diagrams can be generated, for example of the guest list for the opening, the reactions of the press, the images in the catalogue, or the gender of the invited artists. In her conversion of these statistics, the artist has not adhered to the usual criteria for diagrams, however, but adopted a subjective approach: the works echo with psychedelic motivs of the 1960s and 1970s, with the constructivist movement, with "The Large Glass" by Marcel Duchamp, with Philipp Otto Runge's (1977-1810) "Color Sphere", and with Romanticism in general. Each of these thirty-eight worlds thus reflects the universe of "documenta 3" in the most varied aspects. Yet this appropriation does not result in any immediate and intelligent translation of the statistical material in the form familiar to us from diagrams. Instead, basic art-sociological, pedagogical, and histoical issues become cosmological phenomena that traverse the archive in the most colorful variety. The severity of the archive and the statistics become a source of inspiration; at the same time, archive and statistics find their redemption in the freedom of the artistic treatment.
70 objects in different sizes (installation view: Kunstbank Berlin 2005)
exhibited: 2005 Kunstbank, Berlin
For "Models" I took an old (9 years old and I got it from a friend for a bottle of wine) computer hard drive apart and carefully studied each component in a very physical sense. I concentrated on understanding the form of each part, first by making a "construction drawing", then by modelling it in clay, much enlarged. The absurdity of trying to decode the function of electronic components through a study of their shape, ressembles the efforts of archaeologists trying to decipher the workings of a forgotten culture through its artifacts. There is no other class of objects in our culture of today which become "fossilised" as fast as consumer electronics.
SPAM March 2005 2005
acrylic paint on wall, 220 x 1100 cm (installation view: Kunstbank Berlin 2005)
exhibited: 2005 Kunstbank, Berlin
"SPAM" March 2005 is based on the flood of spam messages I received during March 2005. I wrote the subject lines of all messages by hand next to each other downwards on a long wall . The different length of the lines and the mistakes that happened form a very vivid black & white wall drawing. For SPAM March 2005 I have turned my attention again to the transient phenomenon of spam (= unwanted commercial email messages, that is said to make up as much as 50 % of all email traffic). The spam problem has forced upon us a reality wherein we are all more and more dependent on robotic filters that monitor the flow of our communication with the outside world - often with us having a very vague idea of the parameters used. For this project I have disabled all filters during the month of March that shield me and my computer from these unwanted invitations and distractions. Instead I have collected all spam directed at me. The resulting catalogue of subject lines is presented as a large scale wall drawing, in which these unedited and unwanted messages are transformed / recycled into an unexpected visual drama.