GiG air – Hannes Heinrich

This is the first of a series of ‘air’ exhibitions, based on a visit to the artist studio.

Hannes Heinrich, Untitled (Rockaway), 2022, charcoal & oil on canvas, 45 x 35 cm

When attempting to describe the paintings of Hannes Heinrich, it seems useful to think in terms of Peirce’s typology of the sign. For there are three ways in which a sign might denote the object, all at work in his painting. The first way is iconic, where the sign in some way resembles or imitates its object; the second is indexical, where the sign and the object have a direct connection, and finally, the third is symbolic, where the sign denotes the object by means of a convention or rule that allows for interpretation. Now by large, Hannes Heinrich paints objects he finds in his studio. Nothing uncommon and everything ordinary: there is a chair, a plant by the window, trainers with shoelaces undone. There is his body, his head, face, hands and feet. Especially in the past we could clearly distinguish these objects in his paintings as he traced their shadows directly onto canvas. His work was thus primarily iconic, although the actual shadows cast by the objects would be described as indexical. In the last couple of years a shift occurred in his work, where instead of using charcoal to trace an object’s shadow he began to wrap the canvas around an object and trace it directly, in a kind of vaguely erotic, masturbatory surrealist act. In this new work, the technique of frottage was no longer limited to a textured surface but now included the object in its three dimensional entirety. These charcoal tracings would then become the basis for his paintings as elements were further rubbed away or painted over.  The indexical aspect of his work therefore gained importance. 

Hannes Heinrich, ‘o.T.’, 2021, oil on canvas, 210 x 160 cm

Yet whether more iconic or more indexical, this did not alter the work’s symbolic character. As much as his, or indeed any other painting, looks like or is a trace of an object, it must also be understood as a convention or a sign – a fact of which Heinrich is well aware. Already Braque and Picasso’s art dealer understood this explicitly, associating cubism’s new found freedom from illusionistic practice with the recognition of painting as ‘script’ ( as quoted by Yve-Alain Bois in ‘Kahnweiler’s Lesson‘). But structuralist and poststructuralist readings of western art history especially common in the 80s and 90s, showed that all painting, no matter how abstract or realistic, also functioned within this symbolic system. When introducing cubism as an art movement, Francis Frascina shows that the use of the symbol was already at work in the most illusionistic of Chardin’s still lifes, arguing that a painting like ‘The Ray’ was not only about the painter’s ability to depict the light glistening on the ray’s wet and slimy surface, but also about his ability to play with symbolic meaning. There is sexual significance to be found in the exposed gonads of the ray fish – not to mention its sexually suggestive shape – as well as in a particular kind of jug, that Chardin’s contemporaries would well understand. 


Jean Simeon Chardin, ‘The Ray’, 1728, oil on canvas, 114 cm × 146 cm, Louvre Museum, Paris

http://hdl.library.upenn.edu/1017/d/fisher/n2002100626

If Frascina could still be confident that in the 1700s a jug could stand for a uterus and then show how the later, more contradictory and playful Picasso collage questions the conditions of representability, in our post-internet age signs have shown themselves to be inherently far more slippery. We may think of signs consisting of a signifier and signified, a particular expression linked to a certain content, but within the social context of the sign (a sign always needs to be interpreted by someone) a sign refers to as much another sign as it does a signified. This is why Deleuze and Guattari in the chapter ‘587 BC–AD 70: On Several Regimes of Signs’ of  A Thousand Plateaus do not think of the sign as a Saussurian closed language system, terms defined by a set of relations, but instead as a deceptive signifying regime of endless, circular debt. A sign always refers to another sign and in doing so marks itself as deceptive. We see or hear something, but we also know that meaning is not found in the shapes that we see or the sounds that we hear – that meaning is found elsewhere. What we hear and see is meant to deceive us. There is paranoia associated with the sign, we, forever suspicious as to what a thing might or might not signify. 

What is it then, that we see or hear in this paranoid way, if the signifier always deceives us, hiding its meaning somewhere else for us to find? Deleuze and Guattari would argue that what we encounter in the signifying regime is a mask or a face. Or rather, the face is always already a mask. We do not see the order behind the visible, but the structure of the visible, and that takes empty, hollow shape of the mask. That we are able to negotiate this world of signs and not fall into a constant state of paranoia, is because of the meaning we find in the face itself and which we then project onto the world. According to Deleuze and Guattari, the face is the means by which the signifying regime controls and organises the world, the semiotic configuration of political power. As such it is despotic, in that someone – the despot – has to tell us in a manner that brooks no argument: see this, in that. The despot needs the face in order to wield his power over us.  

(And it has to be said, there is something despotic about the way semiotic interpretations have been used in art history and it is indeed unsurprising that someone like Frascina mentions masks in his discussion of cubism. The distorted faces of Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ are presented as references to the ‘primitive’ African mask, signifier of the then contemporary obsession with ‘primitive cultures’ and marked by the fear of the other.)

But despite including his face as one of the objects in his studio that he wraps in canvas and traces in charcoal, in a gesture that echoes St. Veronica’s veil – and let us remember, for Deleuze and Guattari, faciality is something they specifically associate with the rise of Christianity in western culture – there are no faces in Hannes Heinrich’s paintings. There isn’t even a faciality at work. As signs, his canvases with their traces of charcoal and paint do not deceive us, instead I would argue, they betray. Rather than confronting us with an empty frontal stare, they turn their face away, and we are forever looking around the edge of the canvas, with its marker line, to guess at the pattern of the folds, the movement of charcoal, and the object that the canvas once held. How is it that Heinrich repeatedly confronts the objects in his studio? He wraps them in canvas to hide them, so that they cannot be seen, so that their gaze is averted, veiled. If in Hebrew the word for face is ‘presence,’ then the veiled face, the face hidden in the hands of Moses, would be understood as absence.  

For Deleuze and Guattari, betrayal is central to the new post signifying or passional regime, to which it bears witness. They argue that we do not live in the one signifying regime – neither do we only live in the other, the post signifying one – but always in a mix of both. In the signifying regime we are always faced with a multitude of signs, one forever leading to another; in the passional regime, there is a plurality of the subject, a ‘redoubling of the subject with a point of subjectification.’ In their reading of Althusser, when someone or something calls to us, we, as social individuals become constituted as interpellated subjects. You call and ‘I’ answer, your call determining in part that ‘I’ I become and which I in answering accept. On the other hand, the point of subjectification is the object that Heinrich so obsesses over – the chair, shoes, plant, whatever the case may be – that he cannot let go, that he repeatedly covers and rubs all over. The object of subjectification also calls out, yes, but not to me, because it is standing in profile and looking somewhere else. Heinrich obsesses about his object because as much as he wants to see it, the object doesn’t want to see him. The love here is unrequited. 

For Deleuze and Guattari this moment of unrequited love turning away is an act of betrayal, and it is worth mentioning that in Meyer Schapiro’s account of symbolic form, within our system of visual representation – the account that Frascina draws on so heavily – Judas, the ultimate betrayer, is presented in profile. When it stands in profile, the object as a sign betrays you, because it does not do what it was supposed to do, face you, so that you can find meaning within its mask-like structure. Before, in the paranoid system, everything was about me – me finding significance in everything. Now, I nothing is about me, and I seem irrelevant. By facing somewhere else, the point of subjectification indicates meaning is to be found elsewhere, by a different subject within a different social context and a different organisation of power. The task is now up to me, to assume authority and lend interpretation. But I also betray the object of subjectification, as cannot absorb the this object, I cannot fully mirror the speaking subject that interpellates me. And this double betrayal creates a powerful bond between us. 

Hannes Heinrich institutes his painting within a regime of signs, a mixed regime, as much signifying as passional. Or rather the hold of the object over him, and his paintings over us, is of passion, lending this configuration of power its semiotic structure. His objects are in profile, as are we, when we encounter them in his paintings. I keep returning to his work, not because I find the objects interesting or because they have some hidden meaning but because I am forced by them to look somewhere else, and in doing so, to be someone other than me. 

GiG air – more

This year is the year GiG Munich becomes nomadic as GiG air. 

When I say ‘circumstances force GiG to become nomadic’, I mean it in a very specific way. The last series of exhibitions at GiG Munich in its former location, ‘Thinking Nature’ were in large part a response to Deleuze and Guattari’s chapter ‘1730: Becoming-Intense, Becoming- Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible’ in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’, which I was reading at the time. I was interested in how, in this chapter, they introduced the idea of becoming through the discussion of the naturalist and his approach to classifying nature, either through the establishment of series when comparing outward resemblances, or when comparing interior workings of living organisms, the establishment of inner structures. Deleuze and Guattari oppose to this naturalist approach not only to the kind of symbiotic relation, such as between the wasp and the orchid, that is without offspring and therefore also outside the filial relations of evolution, but also to the becoming-animal of creatures like vampires or werewolves, seemingly fictional yet having nothing to do with an imaginary required of comparing and assessing visual similarities between species. There is a suggestion here that becoming-animal constitutes an alternative relation to nature, or rather a bond that isn’t a relation, a relation without relation, because without a recognisable subject and a distinct object. Instead of a molar organisation, Deleuze and Guattari offer the intensities and speeds of the molecular. The exhibition series ‘Thinking Nature’ aimed to explore the impact of man’s relation to nature has on thought. What kind of thought would there be, if this relation between man and nature would be different?

The project however neglected one crucial aspect of this approach to nature, and that is politics. About two months ago a video work by Franz Wanner alerted me to the politics involved in discussions of the molecular. His work was about Germany’s Erinnerungskultur and the problems associated with it. The way in which specifically businesses acknowledge their Nazi past, results in a production of memory that could be understood in Deleuze and Guattari’s molar terms. For Deleuze and Guattari memory, and not just because of its relation to the imaginary, is inherently molar, because of it follows a point-based arborescent system. We think of memory like history generally: as a string of points, going from past to present, each point some event that we can connect to another. Indeed, we organise history in a way not dissimilar to how the naturalist does his charts, in timelines, with branches breaking off in different directions at significant points. But to truly make history involves anti-memory, a break from arborescence in the production of a molecular lineal system. It involves creation, the making of a new reality that then history can only re-contain. This is GiG’s new project: our cultural organisation of memory and how this relates to our organisation of nature. 

From the filial relationships of evolution timelines and the punctual system of memory it is but a step to the establishment of the state. The state of things, the status quo, is based on man. It is molar – molecular is the nomadic.  Deleuze and Guattaru frame their chapter on becoming on either end with the discussion of the war machine of nomadic origin and of different assemblage to the state apparatus. The war machine is what institutes change and this is why the state cannot appropriate it except as war. The war machine is the mutation the naturalist cannot contain. 

Every creation is brought about by the war machine. GiG air is GiG molecular, a mutant, a war machine. Watch this space. 

Online Discussion Reading the Air

Kalas Liebfried, Dr. Sebastian Truskolaski

12.01.2022, 7 pm

As part of the series Thinking Nature, GiG Munich is hosting the online discussion between the artist, Kalas Liebfried and Dr Sebastian Truskolaski, Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in German Cultural Studies at the University of Manchester. The discussion takes place on Zoom on Wednesday evening at 7 pm, the 12th of January. 

Please note that while the discussion is free to attend, make sure to keep your microphone on mute and your video off. The discussion will also be recorded for later viewing. 

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/97973485525

Reading the Air

Kalas Liebfried

19.11.2021 – 21.01.2022

Kalas Liebfried, Reading the Air, 2021, installation view

Kalas Liebfried, Reading the Air, 2021, installation view

Kalas Liebfried, Sonic Ghost (Franz Marc In The Jungle, Breathing), 2021 custom made kimono, hi-fi system, speaker

Kalas Liebfried, Sonic Ghost (Franz Marc In The Jungle, Breathing), 2021 custom made kimono, hi-fi system, speaker

Kalas Liebfried, Sonic Ghost (Franz Marc In The Jungle, Breathing), 2021 custom made kimono, hi-fi system, speaker

Kalas Liebfried, Reading the Air, 2021, installation view

Kalas Liebfried, Death Mask (Choromatsu Listenining To ‘In the Air Tonight’), 2021 silicon, hair, headphones, mirrors, wooden box and stand 

Kalas Liebfried, Death Mask (Choromatsu Listenining To ‘In the Air Tonight’), 2021 silicon, hair, headphones, mirrors, wooden box and stand 

 

Kalas Liebfried, Death Mask (Choromatsu Listenining To ‘In the Air Tonight’), 2021 silicon, hair, headphones, mirrors, wooden box and stand 

Kalas Liebfried, Death Mask (Choromatsu Listenining To ‘In the Air Tonight’), 2021 silicon, hair, headphones, mirrors, wooden box and stand 

Kalas Liebfried, Death Mask (Choromatsu Listenining To ‘In the Air Tonight’), 2021 silicon, hair, headphones, mirrors, wooden box and stand 

Kalas Liebfried, Death Mask (Choromatsu Listenining To ‘In the Air Tonight’), 2021 silicon, hair, headphones, mirrors, wooden box and stand 

Kalas Liebfried, Death Mask (Choromatsu Listenining To ‘In the Air Tonight’), 2021 silicon, hair, headphones, mirrors, wooden box and stand 

Kalas Liebfried, Japanese Landscape (Blue Screen Ambience), 2021 print on affiche paper, aluminium frame
Edition of 20 (+2AP)

Kalas Liebfried, Japanese Landscape (Blue Screen Ambience), 2021 print on affiche paper, aluminium frame
Edition of 20 (+2AP)

Kalas Liebfried, Skinning (Walkman Emblem), 2021 silk paper, varnish
Edition of 3 (+1AP)

Kalas Liebfried, Skinning (Walkman Emblem), 2021 silk paper, varnish
Edition of 3 (+1AP)

Kalas Liebfried, Marbled Evolution (Choromatsu‘s Ear), 2021 silicon, Edition of 10 (+2AP)

 

Photography: Mathias Reitz Zausinger

When we first see Choromatsu, the monkey starring in Sony’s groundbreaking commercial, he is standing still, eyes closed, listening to music on his walkman. He seems at peace, lost in his hidden inner world. He breathes deeply and slowly. We then read in subtitles below, ‘The progress in sound continues, but what about mankind?’ For music can now be everywhere. Not limited to the concert hall or the family piano, the radio or the hifi, it is now outside, with us, in nature.

For Kalas Liebfried, this is the point at which music becomes truly impressionist, catching up with the history of art. Impressionism in painting was in part a consequence of artists, who with the help of the then newly developed tubes of paint, taking their easels outside and painting en plein air. Impressionism for him is thus less about a technique or style of painting and more about bringing the outside in, or rather the inside out. 

This inside longing for the outside is what Adorno means when he writes after Kant, 

Authentic artworks, which hold fast to the idea of reconciliation with nature by making themselves completely a second nature, have consistently felt the urge, as if in need of a breath of fresh air, to step outside of themselves. Since identity is not to be their last word , they have sought consolation in first nature: Thus the last act of Figaro is played out of doors (…)

Art can be a copy of nature, in that something, anything, can be painted or drawn from life. But in the Kantian aesthetics Adorno is working with, art is like nature, because the aesthetic experience of art is based on and is the same as the aesthetic experience of natural beauty. Already when we experience nature as beautiful, we experience it as something more than it is, an image if you will. The nature that we see and feel is both the same nature as always and yet different, because it is beautiful for us. For art to share in the beauty of nature it must also have this ‘more’ and become in this way a ‘second nature’. Art that must be both itself and an excess, steps outside of itself, and this is why it seeks nature, even if, as Adorno mentions, it is only by staging Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro’s fourth act in the moonlit garden.  In nature, art can take a breath. It breathes. 

The advert for Sony’s walkman marks a moment in time in which the reconciliation between art and nature that Adorno had deemed impossible, seemed almost tangible: a rare moment of technological joy and optimism. Liebfried’s exhibition ‘Reading the Air’ is a reminder of the tangibility of this reconciliation. We see a hyperreal Choromatsu, listening with his headphones; we see his hands holding the walkman. And what we hear is the inside that always surrounds us – that we bring with us outside. This is the sound of our own breath, air rushing through the canal of our inner ear. 

Reading the Air

Kalas Liebfried

19.11.2021 – 21.02.2022

 

 

 

 

Opening: 19.11.2021, 6 – 9 pm (please note corona restrictions apply)

GiG Munich is happy to present its final exhibition of 2021, ‘Reading the Air’ with new work by Kalas Liebfried. The exhibition is part of the ‘Thinking Nature’ series hosted by GiG Munich and funded by the Department of Art and Culture, Munich.

In 1987 Sony released the iconic and groundbreaking commercial for its Walkman, featuring the Japanese macaque Choromatsu. We first see Choromatsu in profile, eyes closed, listening to music on a Walkman while standing in the mountains at the edge of a still lake: Choromatsu contemplates. Written underneath we can read, “The progress in sound continues, but what about mankind?”. This becomes the central question of Liebfried’s exhibition, a study on the technological progress in music and otherwise, the historical relation between Japanese and Western aesthetics with reference to impressionist concepts of nature and work by Franz Marc, as well as the impact of technology on the human condition and how this changes the capability to experience natural habitats. The “air” of the exhibition and its ambient methodology, is “In the Air Tonight”, the song by Phil Collins, which here the fragmented figure of a hyper-realist Choromatsu is destined to listen to forever, looping over and over again.

Link: https://vimeo.com/538598417

Kalas Liebfried (*1989 in Svishtov, Bulgaria) studied sculpture and time-based media at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich and Philosophy at the LMU Munich. Central to his installations and performances is the exploration of the sculptural and socio-political potentials of sound. Liebfried is co-running the independent art space “Rosa Stern” and is founder of “PARA” (non-label sound art organization). His works have been shown in solo presentations at i.a. the galleries of the Goethe-Institut Paris and Sofia (2021) and Nir Altman Gallery (2019); group exhibitions and performances at i.a. Lenbachhaus Munich, Sofia City Art Gallery, Onassis Foundation Athens, Pinakothek der Moderne and Kunstverein Munich. Recent awards i.a. project stipend Stiftung Kunstfonds (2020) und Kulturpreis Bayern (2019). In 2021 Kalas Liebfried published his first monograph “Obscure Ambience” (Edition Metzel).

 

 

Low Affinity

Johanna Strobel

14.10-14.11.2021

 

 

Johanna Strobel, Low Affinity, 2021, installation view

Johanna Strobel, Low Affinity, 2021, installation view

Johanna Strobel, Low Affinity, 2021, installation view

Johanna Strobel, Low Affinity, 2021, installation view

Johanna Strobel, Low Affinity, 2021, installation view

Johanna Strobel, deep connectedness, 2021, usb 2.0 extension cords, paraffin, LEDs, plugs, size variable

Johanna Strobel, deep connectedness, 2021, USB 2.0 extension cords, paraffin, LEDs, plugs, size variable (detail)

Johanna Strobel, Low Affinity, 2021, installation view

 Johanna Strobel, low affinity (blue), 2021, USB 2.0 extension cords, paraffin, LEDs, size variable, approx 200 x 30 x 30 cm

Johanna Strobel, low affinity (blue), 2021, USB 2.0 extension cords, paraffin, LEDs, size variable, approx 200 x 30 x 30 cm, (detail)

 Johanna Strobel, low affinity (white), 2021,  USB 2.0 extension cable, paraffin, LEDs, size variable, approx 200 x 35 x 35 cm (detail)

Johanna Strobel, low affinity (red), 2021, USB 2.0 extension cable, paraffin, LEDs, size variable, approx 200 x 30 x 30 cm (detail)

 Johanna Strobel, the duration of the present (red/blue), 2021, oil on wood, microcontroller, minimotors, acrylic mirror, USB cable, plug, 30 x 20 x 20 cm

 Johanna Strobel, false friends,2021, acrylic mirrors, glass, aluminum, clockworks (clockwise and counterclockwise), LEDs, USB cable, each approx. 25 x 25 x 5 cm 

 Johanna Strobel, figures, 2021, oil on wood, microcontroller, motion sensor, USB cable, LEDs, plug, acrylic mirror, rubber bands, 30.5 x 46 x 10 cm

 

 

 

The word ‘plane’ conjures up an image of a brightly lit field, on which everything and anything may stand.The field in this image is squarish, with a mathematical axis, ‘x’ cutting one way, ‘y’ the other, and ‘z’ upwards and downwards, together mapping out a grid with each thing in its own little box. To make connections between things we draw (mostly) straight lines, from one point to another.

Deleuze and Guattari would argue that we have this image of the plane because of the link between ‘plane’ and ‘plan’. When we think of a plane this way, it acts as a hidden principle.We may not see the grid itself, but the grid is what makes things visible to us. It causes the given to be given by giving things their structure, organising them, charting their development and growth. It is a plan(e) of organisation and development, a genetic plan(e) of evolution. Because we do not see the principles by which it organises things, only the result of its labours, the plane is transcendent to us and things, and likened to an idea in the mind of God.

For us the viewers, marked as we are by the ‘confirmation and selection bias’ and victim to the ‘clustering illusion’ we look for these hidden principles finding patterns where there are none, making connections between things that are not in any way related. One such idea is central to the work Johanna Strobel shows at GiG Munich, the idea of aether, the fifth element of a classical world of four, in which everything can be divided into fire, earth, air and water. It was used to explain how stars stayed up in the sky, and moved across the heavens.

But there is another idea of a plane, in and on which there is no form or structure, only activity and its lack.This plane is populated by sub-atomic particles always in the process of transformation, but with no specific aim in mind. Depending on their activity, their speed and slowness, they compose assemblages, as Deleuze and Guattari write, ‘compositions of speed’. But they do not develop, organise according to a principle.They connect, disconnect, transform, reform.What happens, happens, in endless proliferation. Instead of development there is constant dissolution.

Johanna Strobel’s work conjures up both plan(e)s.There is a longing for principle, apparent in her systematic approach, plug going into socket, light being red or blue, going on or off.We can map this world quite easily on a grid. It is clean, white, metallic.There is also the understanding of a far more dissolute world in which entropy rules, of information lost through USB cables and mnemonic devices of knot-making failing.This world is unstable, reckless, and somehow also inexplicably present.

 

 

 

Low Affinity

Johanna Strobel

14.10 – 14.11.2021

GiG Munich is happy to present the next instalment of the series Thinking Nature, featuring new work by Johanna Strobel. For her solo exhibiton low affinity, Johanna Strobel creates rhizomatic macramé-like structures from USB extension cords, using them to power her plexiglas and paraffin sculptures. 

Enthropy, the fact that once the USB 2.0 cable exceeds a certain length information gets lost while power still remains, forms the central component of this work. It ties together the ancient idea of ‘ether’ as a medium through which light travels, the fluid physics of translucency, and the decorative and practical craft of knot-making. Her practice is informed by her background in science, and explores such unwieldy concepts like time and space, information and entropy, language, the creation, attribution or suspension of meaning and the everyday perception and precipitation of these concepts in mundane life. 

Johanna Strobel is an interdisciplinary artist from Germany, currently based in New York. She holds degrees in Information Science and Mathematics and graduated in painting and graphics from the Academy of Fine Arts Munich with Honors (Meisterschuelerin of Gregor Hildebrandt) in 2017. In 2020 she received her MFA from Hunter College New York (New Genres). Since then she has participated in numerous exhibitions in Germany, Italy, Taiwan and the US, with a solo exhibition at the Municipal Museum Cordonhaus Cham, 2019. In 2020 her work has been included in The Immigrant Artist Biennial, New York, USA, Jahresgaben, Kunstverein Munich, Germany and featured online by Hauser & Wirth. Johanna was a fellowship artist in residence at NARS Foundation, Brooklyn in 2021.  


The exhibition will include an online discussion event with Dr. Beth Lord, Professor of Philosophy, School of Divinity, History, Philosophy and Art History at the University of Aberdeen.