markus hofer

orfeus kharm

seite 1

ART IS NOT TROUSERS, OR MY MUSEUM OF USELESS THINGS «It is natural that nothing connected with art is no more than something matter-of-course – neither art nor its relation to the whole, nor even its right to exist. [...] Today the very fact of the existence of art is under question as it is. It is doubtful whether it has lost its premises as a result?” – That is the beginning of an aesthetic theory by Theodor V. Adorno where he sets up a question on the place of art because it seems rather unclear and even doubtful. It is difficult to determine its place analyzing objects of art or artifacts directly. Their partly uncommunicative character in respect to the empiric world – a result of ideological usage by political and scientific systems – makes this approach very complicated. All the concepts of genuine things were completely rejected in the epoch of romanticism. Oriented to the aesthetics only the history of art could neutralize any social political significance. The discourse of art broadened up to methodological system, up to myth from which a person should be moved off. We can determine art as “a way of emotional experience of immediate creation of a certain thing” making stress at the process of perception, as Shklovsky said, or to insert art in the empty, endless space, into a certain thin interval, because art is created in such way that it can’t be a beginning of anything, as Greuss noted, which shows that the modern art seems easy , but the definition of its place is a rather complicated task. “If you understand it, everything would come to its place”. Nevertheless, the art exists! It exists in the formula “I /Here/Now” (Benveniste), which is the starting point of acquirement of the word. This process is highly subjective but at the same time it is on the outside, in the other one which is communicated to it, it is in the dialogue with materials, objects, discources, the history of art, with other pieces of art and other artistic forms, in the dialogue with social and political reality, with public institutions and utopia. The result of this dialogue is a multilayed “text” which context is not clearly identified. Besides, we talk about dialogue, text of gnomic, playing structure and about a certain changeable “mask” the place of which is always differently defined. In my art I rest on this formula “I /Here/Now”, and the essence – in my case mainly by-products – performs a certain “obstacle”. (Look at the text by Daniil Charms “On the time, one the space and on the being”.) In the creative “searching for traces”, I collect in Petersburg and its suburbs mainly by-products of later common-day things (sometimes there are fragments only) to restore them in collages and new objects. Such products are permanently linked with various times, various places (in German the word “various” /Verschiedene sounds like “dead”/Verstorbene). They are always traces of human beings. Objects created in such way can enlighten anew the question of the “absence of human, too human” (Nitzsche) in the “non materialized” art. At that, there is untouched and purposeful identity of art with itself, because artifacts become alive first of all in the dialogue – so, they are not available for “natural things” and subjects created with these artifacts. They come in dialogue through interlinks of all the separate elements existing in them. So the independence of a certain piece of art is performed. But just through this insularity, through the seeming absence of link with this empiric reality – through the way of multiple coming out of the empiric reality and its rational categories by a piece of art in its egocentric insularity; that is why it takes an absolutely certain position in respect to the “outer” world. Presented collages and objects “work” mainly with separately found materials which were directly connected with human activity. So, it appears something “human, too human”. Human being is permanently here, in the process of creation and usage of things. These materials are speaking monuments, opening poetic space of “another one”. Montage, combining and compression (in German Verdichten/compression sounds like Dichten/creation/composition) of collected separate materials mean creation of something new with other methods. At this case separate things are free from their initial purposes, first of all, they get back their principal properties – something which can be expressed in word only - and those free things come in dialogue of mutual meanings. So, “materialized poems” (using my term) are born – they can be also called “poems of the fourth dimension”. The process of production is begun frequently with obvious or partly hidden hint to another piece of art, to another artistic form, discourse, social reality and so on. The further process follows the “flow” (dimly defined ideas) which comes from aesthetic properties of collected materials. There is a direct connection among separate forms, colours and properties of collected materials and the form of “thing” which is on the level of appearance. Meanwhile, my own “Self” plays a role of mediator. In this case, I could say, that “Self” is a certain obstacle. Step by step, “thing” demands their own parts – it is necessary to control it – until the moment of repulsion of any adds or corrections. Then, “thing” receives its perfect, finished form and turns aside from me. Such work stays open constantly because of its aesthetic form always has some sediment. Then, there is a question of “application”, a question “what for?” – i.e. a question of ontological quality of things, signs, symbols and names as bearers of meanings and various interpretations. It means that all the things, signs and symbols may become others as a result of some interpretation, but they are nevertheless things, signs and symbols. (And a decisive point is context.) For instance, absurd names reflect such a way of removal and even alienation. Art is not trousers, or my museum of useless things. From this point there is a way to the “archaeology of common day” which tries to restore synthesis among various elements of the reality.» orfeus kharm (2007)