Show 24

Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Fareed Armaly | Penelope Georgiou | Josef Kramhöller | David Lamelas | Ketty La Rocca | Verena Pfisterer

Curated by Julia Eichler und Fabian Ginsberg


December 8, 2018 - April 30, 2019

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

The Embodiment of Publicness

Publicness was the ideal model of a freely accessible sphere within a society to discuss problems that concern the participating audience. Freely accessible is this sphere to those who accept each other in that they may push this freedom through to the outside world. Freedom is the constitutive equivalence of the participants and the difference to those who do not participate, and also the tautological production process of the free access to the free access by means of a benchmark gained by free exchange. The articulation of a free member gains identity in the relation to the discourses of the publicness. The different aspects of the discourses form a unity of publicness by means of their steady distribution. The member perceives himself as capable of acting, free in opinion and will-formation, individually and generally affirmed; he holds between his private and the public the media of a free access to himself.

The organizational form of the ideal publicness is comparable to that of the liberal market: various attendees in a designated market exchange with each other comparable miscellanea with the help of a general medium of exchange and thus determine its respective value. Within the market dominates a benchmark-setting and benchmark-taking, productive alternation of equivalence and difference fed from external resources, that are not gained by equal but asymmetrical exchange. Starting from its inner benchmark-producing market, networks of asymmetrical trade and dependent markets traverse, which establish various levels of a developing hierarchy. If the network organization grows in comparison to the market organization, values can be determined by individual market participants instead of being assessed by reciprocal exchange within the market. An evolution of the benchmark from the free forces of exchange within the market is replaced by the programming of a medial sequence that mediates the different organizational forms in order to produce designated values. The negotiation of benchmark-setting criteria between equally independent market participants is set against the one-sided absorption of exchange processes, which was established by the benchmark-setting programming of a medial sequence traversing different organizational forms.

The subject-object model of cognition still engraved in our imagination is a program that is productive by creating a constant inner divide of subjectively and objectively given meaning. Therein, the old division of heart and soul is uphold, which perpetuates an imagination that has long been recognized as improper with regard to our understanding and experience. Thus, the model is complemented by other ones that integrate fields, for example, such as society or language. The result is a conceptual collage that certainly provides instruments for all kinds of areas but no general, consistent mediation. Because the ’world view’ is believed to be naive at best, and it’s not supported any longer; the production of its constituting inner contradiction is, however, being continued. So it’s possible that also the Cartesian separation of spatially expanded things and mind continuous to work. Separations create dynamic mediations.

Publicness was a society of free, individual subjects that are separated from each other and separated from the material and the physical. In the transgression towards their self-invented objects of the physical space lies a process of dissociation and appropriation. It’s the separation of body and mind, which in one-sided sensemaking is executed time and again. The subjects can’t ever catch up to themselves: the process of cognition which constitutes them, that is, to provide meaning and sense in the expanded world of things (in which they themselves appear as bodies), can’t be located in time and space, since meaning has no spacial expansion – the origin of meaning and sense, like the origin of power, remains a mystery. All the more dynamic is the unleashed process – in the appropriated (objectified) world of things and the dissociated physicalness of the (objectified) subject. What becomes evident in the social allocation of status, inversely to the physical causality, is this: the accumulated transgression of the object towards meaning generates the power in the sphere of objectified subjectivity: Publicness.

The authoritative subjects do not primarily position themselves within the dimensions of time and space that represent their operating field, but rather within their market-producing dimension of social status. Here, the value benchmarks of social and cultural significance are being negotiated, so as to organize in media appliances the bodies which the subjects have control over in time and space. Bodies become networks. A missing, ever deferred proxy of the body is being simulated by invoking authority.

The missing body becomes a sign. Excarnation in mind, incarnation in commodity/object. The sign is the gap between body and mind, which constantly has to be cleared but can’t ever be bridged. The media, which the subject-position has access to, transgress the sign from body to mind and from mind to body and allocate the subject-position’s status in the field.

Semiotics has adapted itself to an order of the sciences when, in the 1960’s, it parted from its shares of speculative philosophy, so as to constitute itself as an exact science that would continue the separation of body and mind. Its reduction on the structure as a working tool and operational model, not a portrayal of reality, allowed for the existing scientific models to be complemented by sensibly bound Semiotics. Its knowledge range is the endless semiosis within the structure and the reducibility of the sign’s object reference to conventional, analyzable units. 
Thus, two questions are being avoided: where does the sign come from? And: where does the culture come from? Now, one can no longer ask for the evolution of the mind, where everything comes from, that is, how a thing could as well be something entirely different. Instead, one can reduce the existing meanings to discrete units, organize, digitize, and process them completely. Furthermore, one can continue to use a subject-object model of reality and when necessary, for example, critique of ideology, utilize the semiotic instruments to justify one’s opinion.

Against that, Charles Sanders Peirce developed his theory of signs within a comprehensive and thus non-integrable theory of consciousness, that is faced by the question of where the signs come from in which we can merely think and perceive. Peirce’s concept of the sign is an embodiment of the mind in which iconical, indexical, and symbolical reference always collaborate in physical interaction, and they mutually produce themselves in different but interactive processes. Even the conventional symbol (which one has to have learned) and not just icon and index, can truly be understood (instead of merely be processed reductionistically) in embedding psychophysically interactive processes in the physiochemical process. The sign is a psychophysical process of the embodiment of the mind. Conventionally, mental activity always happens in signs. But the evolution of the sign constantly includes the uncoded. Here, the individual of the subject model is culturally and materially embedded between the uncoded of its sensual perception and the universal of the “Quasi-mind”. It’s not autonomous.

Ketty La Rocca shows hands; hands that are sensitive body parts; hands that are signs.

When the sense flees, the medium, which is the body and the language and the image, is an empty and strange form. The sense flees, because the mediation of the separation of image and portrayal is not transparent anymore, unable to just claim identity any longer. Or, because a person notices that the general production method of a publicly recognized identity is a powerful illusion that excludes her. Excluded from herself, the person seeks a different mediation.

La Rocca’s images are not portrayals but documented processes of a montage of media. Programming of media montage and documentation coincide. In the series Riduzioni an appropriation of images takes place that have become depreciated, standardized, and conventional due to their character of portrayal. In a process of translating into handwriting and lines the image is being defaced and physically appropriated. There is no critique, which could simply just correct and optimize that which is portrayed, as the earlier collages have done, but there is an eventful interaction. The event is not one solution, it shows both: appropriation and alienation, embodiment and dissolution of sense – in the attempt of a continuous mediation, there, where there is installed in image and portrayal, body and mind, the state of ‚being-separated-from-oneself’ which forces an appropriation that constitutes identity. Disconcerting identity: “You“. The images remain mirrors.

Verena Pfisterer’s art establishes connections between body and space, symbol and object. Spaces of experience, mediations of feeling and mind, for a sensitive thinking. Objects to play with, meaningful and sensual, for an interacting appropriation instead of ownership (she mentioned that many of her objects had been “deplayed“). Pfisterer designs models of consciousness – alternative mediations of outerworld and innerworld in her sculptural work, in theoretical discussion, and political engagement.

In the field of art, whose freedom she denotes as an illusion, Pfisterer finds no publicness for her concept of what art could be. Her specific reference becomes the daily routine in which she defends the individual against normalizing standards. Since she oftentimes can’t implement her spaces and objects, she creates draft drawings that note and archive the idea and its execution at the same time. Alongside this, photographs originate on strolls through the city. Pfisterer could no longer decide on a form of presentation for the exhibition space, while a selection for a publication was started but never finished. For this exhibition we have chosen to project the slides just like Pfisterer showed the images at home to herself and visitors. The photographs (as of 1973) show her perspective on the traces of the individual in the daily routine of the city. It’s the gaps between the socially defined areas that equip their representatives with the authority of freedom.

At the Venice Biennale 1968, twenty-one-year-old David Lamelas showed Office of Information about the Vietnam War at Three Levels: the Visual Image, Text and Audio. For this, he would use telexes to receive – in the Argentinean pavilion – all available news on the Vietnam War. The technical apparatus was the exhibition object, a secretary read out the news. Obviously, this is not about a statement on the contents but rather the showing and conversion of a specific, up-to-date flow of information isolated in the art space. Critique of the institution and media criticism converge. The privileged position, which is necessary to execute the critique of the institution from within the institution, shows its limitation: the programmed mediation of critical stance and hegemonic field.

Over twenty years later, in remembrance of Kubrick’s Space Odyssey (1968), Lamelas captures his now art-historical work in a painting once again: the Buero of Vietnam is relocated to the black monolith, which, in the film, sends out a radio signal upon contact with a sunbeam. Underneath the monolith, towering into space, lies Venice; the Italian boot is clearly recognizable.

In 1969, the year of the moon landing, Lamelas developed for the Camden Arts Centre in London the film Study of the Relationships between Inner and Outer Space, another canonical work of institutional critique and example for a tautological method that draws the attention to the media apparatus.

In the painting Inside – Outside (1984) a woman stands in a gallery on a floor littered with circles. It’s a naked but painted alien, the window leads straight into space, disco version. To the apt question of Jochen Kienzle: “What actually are those fried eggs on the floor?“, Lamelas replied briefly and succinctly: “Those are lights. The red one is ceasing to exist.“

The series Properties, as a work unit of five framed images, is uncommon for Fareed Armaly’s institutional-critical artistic work. Four images show edited depictions of various commodities, the fifth image collects the applied photographic effects. Here, critique of representation is the critical depiction of the production of the image along its technical and metonymical mediations: the index of a genuine, because materially connected real of the photography is being replaced by the indices of the optimizing usage of the apparatus towards specific effects. The depicted commodities are being offered as figurative body parts. The image series as the depicted production of body simulations, which are equipped with the authority of publicly recognized value, is reflexive towards its own status as art. In the hopelessness of the aesthetic it’s being short-circuited with advertising. A depiction of the production of depiction loosens the partial sequences normally programmed in a medial process and offers them new embodiment. It’s up to the users whether they learn the program or if they couple the works as commodities in a medial sequence, in which they could not then recognize themselves.

Josef Kramhöller created performances that he sketched beforehand on paper and also on large canvases. After the performance he noted deviations and additions. The images are part of the enrollment process and embodiment of the artist in the field of art, which he, who perceived himself as a social outsider, sophisticatedly reflected in its powerful mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion of structured dislimitation.

Under allegedly post-medial conditions its own distribution becomes the medium of art – it coincides with its publicness. Art, then, can’t reflect itself anymore for lack of inner difference, but it can only confirm itself. He, who, doesn’t invoke publicness in an anticipating manner, since he already sees himself confirmed in it, is not only isolated and irrelevant but separated from himself. Kramhöller’s work seems to offer the possibility of a self-separation and self-reinstatement, which could serve as a model of a reprogramming of media.

A series of drawings repeat the portrait of Clara Schuman that was depicted on the hundred-mark bill. In the appropriating drawing process of the artist who has become money, identification, reflexion of the role of the artist, and desire take turns.

In the film Hans (1989) Penelope Georgiou stages herself – her reservations about herself and her role as an artist, about film and art. For that she creates, as a stage design, a setting of clichés of the life of the artist: the piano, the Freudian couch, an exercise bike, and the coffeehouse table. The roles to this she plays in a mode that alternates between sovereignty, helplessness, waiting, sexiness, inquisition of one’s own agency, role-play, and verbal acrobatics.

Georgiou has brought in two artist friends (Johannes Gachnang, Stephan Geene) who lack a staged role: they merely serve a certain shooting time as being-an-artist time, and they need to ask themselves how they want to behave. They make up Georgiou’s audience integrated in the film. In the double role of reception and production, and worried about coming across authentically, Geene immediately clarifies: he is not here privately, but he is “hired”. That’s how he sees himself, as a part of the Viennese MINIMAL CLUB, thus of an artists’ network.

What Penelope Georgiou accomplishes in her films is the simulation of an improvisation that creates different levels of contemplation between alleged art and fleeting lives.

Julia Eichler, Fabian Ginsberg
Translation by Chris Diekers


We thank the gallery Kadel Willborn / The Estate Ketty La Rocca, the Art Museum Liechtenstein, Vaduz and the estate of Verena Pfisterer for the generous cooperation in the course of compiling this exhibition.

Related Event: Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit, 28. April 2019

Related Event: Book Launch "Quallenkopf", 19. September 2015

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit

Kienzle Art Foundation Berlin,  Ausstelungsansicht „Die Verkoerperung von Oeffentlichkeit“, Gruppenausstellung, Berlin, 2018

Exhibition View | Die Verkörperung von Öffentlichkeit