As part of Various Others and in collaboration with Temporary Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Art, Cologne
Milchstr. 4, 81667 Munich
09.09.2022 – 29.09.2022
There is a call. In the light, in the dark, it doesn’t matter. I stop and look around. I see the caller and I answer. I answer because I know that the caller is calling me. The person they are calling is the same person I am. I identify myself in their call. I understand and I respond appropriately. And in doing so I confirm that the identity they have given me is the right one. But there is another call, one that for Deleuze and Guattari opens a different, passional regime: someone calls, but this is not me. They call someone else. I still stop and look around but I do not identify myself with the person being called and I feel … I do not know exactly, but Deleuze and Guattari would say, betrayed. Oh, how I would like to be the one who is being called! Providing there is a fascination with the caller, I want to identify this unknown person, I desire this betrayal. This too is a powerful bond.
Then there is the third call that Deleuze and Guattari do not write about. Someone calls and this call is meant for me, but I do not answer because it seems too obvious, almost too stupid. They cannot be really calling me, or are they? Are they really, now?
All three ways of calling are apparent in the work of Hannes Heinrich’s and Buket Isgören. There is a moment of recognition: this, there, is a depiction of a flower. It is rendered in such a way I recognise it as such. There is also a moment of betrayal, especially apparent in Heinrich’s work, when he rubs charcoal across the object he covers with canvas, desiring a closeness that the object does not give. Isgören too painstakingly colours in her leaves and petals. And then there is the call that is too much; it is too direct: flower, chair, shoe, hoody. In Heinrich’s latest work, the object he has drawn and rubbed, is cut out in order to once again gain a third dimension and become solid.
Hannes Heinrich is a Munich-based artist. He studied in Munich, graduating in 2017, Klasse Kneffel. His most recent exhibitions include: ‘Part of a process,’ Galerie Jahn & Jahn, Munich (2022); ’Die ersten Jahren der Professionalität, BBK, Munich (2022); ‘The Shade, Kunstverein Kirchzarten (2020) and ’Ruinous Times’, Ruine München, Lenbachhaus Munich (2020).
Buket Isgören is a Turkish artist who lives in Cologne and works at at Kunsthaus KAT18. GiG Munich learnt about her work through Aneta Rostkowska, the director of CCA Temporary gallery. Aneta visited GiG Munich and left the pamphlet accompanying the 2020 exhibition ‘Florophilia’. The strength of the writing lead GiG Munich to contact Aneta, who then agreed to collaborate with GiG for Various Others. She then suggested we show Buket’s work together. Buket Isgören is autistic and this presented the challenge of how to write about art in the theoretical way characteristic of GiG, but in a language that is simple. The exhibition will be accompanied by language workshops, inviting participants to translate difficult texts to simple German. This is in the spirit of Temporary Gallery and its focus on social context.
This is the first of a series of ‘air’ exhibitions, based on a visit to the artist studio.
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.
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.
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 Plateausdo 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.
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.
Trouble… Trouble on the ground… Extinction Beckons… Many disappear… But you survive… Tech-animals are resourceful… Some stay with the trouble on the ground and find new ways of living… Many live in Zero City, which is not a place but an artilect intelligence, and sign up to zero production, zero consumption, zero-hours contracts… Material life becomes minimal but profitable at least for some… information is Deliver00’d in zero time… Others see a future off-ground and look to the sky… higher than the clouds, higher than where blue turns to fire, higher than darkness… to the Moon, Mars and beyond… banking on artilect and intelligence to build a city on Mars… but artilects have ideas of their own and… and make for Mars on their own, for a friend’s rendezvous… a society of a kind… so begins the first day of Mars Year Zero…
Through drawing, digital prints, sculpture, film and performance, the London-based collective Plastique Fantastique address what was once Science Fiction but now material for the news, the choice of finding ways of living with the trouble on Earth or pursuing off-world futures. In Zero Time, Plastique Fantastique tell the tales of those who choose to remain and those who look to leave, and also those who have no choice but to flee to find safe haven. Zero Time incorporates work from two recent exhibitions in London, part one Zero City at IMT Gallery, and part two, Mars Year Zero at Dilston Gallery, SPG. For the opening of the show, The group will perform a sonic fiction ‘We Live by the Left Hand of Darkness,’ about the first days of Mars Year Zero.
Recent exhibitions and performances by Plastique Fantastique include: MarsYear Zero Dilston Gallery, SPG London 2019; MarsYear Zero Performance for ‘Today is Our Tomorrow’, Publics Helsinki 2019; Zero City IMT Gallery London 2019; ‘Shonky’, Hayward Touring Show travelling to MAC Belfast, DCA Dundee, Bury Art Gallery and Museum 2017-18; ‘They Call Us Screamers’, TULCA Galway.
Mit Zeichnungen, Digitaldrucken, Skulpturen, Filmen und Performances spricht das Londoner Kollektiv Plastique Fantastique die aus Science Fiction bekannte Frage an, ob man auf einer unruhigen Erde bleiben oder eine Zukunft außerhalb der Welt verfolgen soll. In Zero Time erzählt Plastique Fantastique die Geschichten von denen, die bleiben und die gehen wollen, und auch von denen, die keine andere Wahl haben als zu fliehen. Zero Time enthält Arbeiten aus zwei kürzlich in London durchgeführten Ausstellungen, Teil 1: Zero City in der IMT Gallery und Teil 2: Mars Year Zero in der Dilston Gallery, SPG. Zur Eröffnung der Ausstellung wird die Gruppe eine Sonic-Fiktion über die ersten Tage des Marsjahres Null “We Live by the Left Hand of Darknesst” inszenieren.
Zu den jüngsten Ausstellungen und Performances von Plastique Fantastique gehören: Mars Year Zero Dilston Gallery, SPG London 2019; Mars Year Zero Performance für „Today is Our Tomorrow“, Publics Helsinki 2019; Zero City IMT Gallery London 2019; “Shonky”, Hayward Wanderausstellung zu MAC Belfast, DCA Dundee, der Bury Art Gallery und dem Museum 2017-18; “They Call Us Screamers”, TULCA Galway.
Some years ago I hung a bucket from a chain, a little above the ground, in my studio. I thought that perhaps I might find a way to make art from it. I came to my studio one morning, and to my surprise I found the bucket to be full of potatoes. I wondered how this could be? I supposed that someone must have filled the bucket in my absence, but nobody else had ready access to my studio at night. I emptied the bucket at the end of the day, and when I returned the next day, again it was full, almost overflowing with fresh looking potatoes. This strange occurrence repeated itself daily for a week or so. I transplanted the bucket to my living room at home, hung in the same manner, and was astonished to find that when I woke up, the bucket was again full. It was only if I stayed with the bucket through the night that it didn’t fill itself.
Well, I accepted this superabundant gift, but I’m not a greengrocer, nor do I eat quite so many potatoes, and in any case, I always regarded these potatoes with slight suspicion, since their origin was unknown. They induced wonder, yes, but just a little anxiety too. So eventually I sold the bucket, with it’s extraordinary tuberous fecundity, as art.
I always regretted selling it.
Well, here we are, years later. I decided to revisit that magic bucket, to make a new version. Of course I assumed that this time around it would just be a sham in so far as surely a new bucket wouldn’t create potatoes. With that in mind Magdalena and I bought some potatoes just in case, so that if that old magic weren’t to return, we could fill the bucket. And we agreed to tell you that the bucket had done the job itself. But you know what? Amazingly enough, we left the bucket overnight in the gallery, and it filled itself with potatoes, just like my old bucket had. The potatoes we’d purchased were completely unnecessary. Amazing.
‘On Repeat’ is GiG Munich’s latest exhibition, featuring work by Alasdair Duncan, Jenny Dunseath, Jonah Gebka, Jane Harris, Melina Hennicker, Steffen Kern, Claudio Matthias Bertolini, Michael Schmidt, Amanda Ure, Magdalena Wisniowska.
The starting point for this show was the paper, ‘Genius and Genesis’ first presented by Magdalena Wisniowska at the 2017 Deleuze and Artistic Research Conference at the Orpheus Institute, Ghent.
As part of her investigation of the concept of originality, she argues that the process of repetition has an original because genetic component. This is not the repetition of the same as found in Walter Benjamin’s work on mechanical reproduction or Sigmund Freud’s discussion of trauma. Rather, it refers to our impulse to repeat, to try, to do something again and again, without thought of an outcome. Repetition in this spirit of Nietzsche and Deleuze, would be an affirmation of difference.
Artists in the exhibition use repetition in their work, not simply as a mechanical device (although this feature is present in Gebka’s or Kern’s investigations of the image in its relation to photography) but as a creative because productive gesture. For Alastair Duncan the act of repeating is miraculous; for Jenny Dunseath, absurd; for Jane Harris and Amanda Ure, the beginning of a long meditative process. In their video, Melina Hennicker and Michael Schmidt demonstrate that it has no boundaries, however much we wish to contain it. It often combined with a destructive quality as demonstrated in work by Claudio Matthias Bertolini. All in order to strip back and begin afresh.
Just as there are two ways of interpreting the aesthetic object, there are two ways in which the work of Michael Lukas can be approached. If we take the perspective prior to aesthetic experience, the work becomes the object of our study. We begin by situating the work and cataloguing its numerous themes. These include but are not limited to the fields of ontology, topology, geography, social science and history. From the perspective of aesthetic experience however, we need to examine the kind of experience the work engenders, which I would argue is unique. Perhaps the term aesthetic experience is misleading as Michael Lukas’s work involves much more than the traditional sense of the term, with the object to be viewed by the human subject, the individual artwork to be judged by the art expert, the connoisseur. Michael Lukas’s work presents a problem: in Deleuze’s words, it forces us to think.
The site-specific work we see at GiG Munich does not exist as the one or even the group of paintings, what we know as compositions of brushstrokes on wood or canvas. It consists of the relations and connections these material elements make with each other, with other paintings, with the artist and with us, the viewer. The relations are physical but also abstract or intellectual, the connections between nebulous ideas just as important as those made by objects in Euclidean space. In other words the painting installation of Michael Lukas stages an encounter, an encounter always being the confrontation between a set of forces. The result of the encounter is an assemblage of affects.
For Spinoza, who is my main reference point here, the forces set up in the encounter have two possible outcomes. The encounter results either in the increase of the capacity for action, which is perceived as pleasurable, or in its decrease, which is felt as pain. The assemblage of affects is the consequence of the first kind of encounter, the pleasurable composition of relations, which ultimately is to bring us knowledge of God. Deleuze complicates matters by insisting that in the encounter, the position adopted by the body is one of combat. In combat, forces struggles against each other, going across and breaking up the organised body, as set within its boundaries. For combat to be considered by Deleuze as a positive encounter, this struggle cannot be resolved with the dominance of one force over the others. Any kind of resolution compromises combat’s inherent creative element. Something new is only produced when the struggles of the forces is maintained.
Michael Lukas’s work keeps up this tension, this struggle between various forces. He uses the frame, a repeated motif in his paintings and physically manifest as a sculptural relief hanging in the gallery corner, to demand from us the move out of an organised framework – to shift from one material aspect to another, to make those intellectual connections we would otherwise not make, all the time preventing us from ever settling on the one object, the one image, the one idea. When encountering Michael Lukas’s work, we are forced to think, in that we are forced into a position of creativity. It spurs us to action. But it never allows this activity to be resolved. We are continually intrigued, looking, making sense, thinking.