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.
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.
The growing impact of human expansion on fragile global ecosystems is a well-established if not universally acknowledged 21st century concern. The opposition is a familiar one: on the one side, man with his polluting industries, and on the other, nature, unspoilt and pure. However, as already Adorno pointed out, this antithesis of technique and nature is a crude one. Nature, which has not been pacified by human hand – alpine moraines or inorganic outer space – looks precisely like the polluted landscape of industrial debris that is so repulsive to us. Landscape is a construction, organised and codified.
Stefanie Hofer, Rebecca Partridge and Miriam Salamander are three artists, who work in the landscape tradition, accepting that since the early 19th century discussions of the picturesque, culture has provided models of how we view and present our surrounding environment. In their work, they try to make the constructed nature of landscape apparent to the viewer. Central to their practice is the use of traditional technique: ceramic, watercolour, etching and aquatint. At a time when human progress harms as much as it assists nature, their exhibition, “inorganic landscape,” recognises the power these techniques hold.
Magdalena Wisniowska 2017
Das zunehmende Einwirken der menschlichen Expansion auf die fragile globale Umwelt ist ein wohl etabliertes, wenn auch nicht allseits anerkanntes Problem des 21. Jahrhunderts. Die Gegenspieler sind uns vertraut: auf der einen Seite der Mensch und seine verschmutzende Industrie und auf der anderen Seite die unveränderte und reine Natur. Jedoch führt diese Antithese von Technik und Natur, worauf bereits Adorno hinwies, in die Irre. Die Natur, die nicht durch die menschliche Hand besänftigt wurde – alpine Moränen oder der anorganische Weltraum – gleicht der verschmutzen Landschaft industriellen Abfalls, die wir so verabscheuen. Landschaft ist ein Konstrukt, organisiert und kodifiziert.
Stefanie Hofer, Rebecca Partridge und Miriam Salamander sind drei Künstlerinnen, die sich mit Landschaft beschäftigen und anerkennen, dass uns die Kultur seit den Diskussionen über das Pittoreske im 19. Jahrhundert Modelle zur Verfügung gestellt hat, wie wir die uns umgebende Landschaft sehen und präsentieren. In ihren Arbeiten versuchen sie die konstruierte Natur der Landschaft für das Auge des Betrachters wahrnehmbar zu machen. Im Fokus ihrer Praxis stehen dabei traditionelle Techniken: Keramik, Aquarell, Radierung und Aquatinta. In einer Zeit, in der der menschliche Fortschritt die Natur gleichermaßen schädigt wie fördert, zeigt ‘inorganic landscape’, welche übermittelnde Kraft von diesen traditionellen Techniken ausgeht.
Translation by Nadja Gebhardt 2017
OPENING: 5th SEPTEMBER 2014, 18:30-20:30 – SAVE THE DATE!!!
[Exhibition open from the 6th of September till the 3rd of October – by appointment only]
After a long break GiG Munich begins season 2014 with drAwn 2gether, a group exhibition featuring 12 artists connected with the gallery, both directly and indirectly. Despite widely divergent practices, each had agreed to submit one drawing on the condition it is the standard A2 landscape in size. What the drawing is – this was left for the individual artist to decide.
As a premise then, the show takes up the old and somewhat tired question of medium: on the one hand art theory’s preoccupation with how to classify, assess and give value to the fact that the arts are diverse rather than one; on the other, philosophy’s affirmation of the one essence of art. But while it acknowledges the tension inherent in these two concepts of art, it makes no serious claims to that effect. Instead, it makes use of this tension to bring together an otherwise disparate group, while simultaneously allowing for their differences. Whereas the restriction in format is meant to serve as an individuating device, spotlighting the artist’s particular set of concerns, the call for drawing affirms art (as Adorno righty notes) a free movement of discrete moments.