cflow journal - issue 2013-2

Creative Assemblages – When aesthetics meet the economy or what do they have in Common?

Petra Elena Köhle & Nicolas Vermot Petit-Outhenin

Es hängt vollkommen ab von der Farbe der Beleuchtung / It Depends Entirely On The Color Of The Lighting

Lecture-performance, 40-60 min, 2012.

The lecture-performance is based on the transcription of two conversations with Rosmarie Nohr and her sister Gisela. Rosmarie Nohr was one of the first students of the Institute of Color Photography in Leipzig. The institute was founded in 1940 with the aim to build up a connection between production and practice and to educate people to an exact perception of colors, and to develop precise scales to reflect reality as naturally as possible. The script is based on a fragmentary remembering and narrates along the development of color film, its connection to measures of cultural heritage documentation during WWII.

Three live voices read in the exhibition space from a script. For the script the artists reworked the transcript of the two conversations with Rosmarie Nohr and her sister Gisela, creating a new texture obstructive to inscriptions, prone to highlight the shadows of technology and the lapses of memory. In order to avoid the development of a protagonist they impersonate meaning through a system of A, B and C parts not assigned to specific participants in the conversation but rather rotating at random in order to avoid dialogic expectations on language games based on questions and answers, to create a common field in-between to allow a multiplicity of codes, since “multiplicity has neither subject nor object.” This is the performative environment where they develop a practice of counter-memory by denaturalizing historical links between identity, visibility and the language of representation. While the image and colors of the photographic copy fade slowly, it would seem that the text creates yet more stable structures. The performance invents an “abstract machine that connects a language to the semantic and pragmatic contents of statements, to collective assemblages of enunciation, to a whole micropolitics of the social field” (Deleuze & Guattari), eclipses this certainty and emphasizes the fragmented character of memory that works at a loss in a labyrinth of blurred and obscure subjectivating stories, and the totalizing logic of the semiotics of representation with its chain of signifiers.

Text: Dimitrina Sevova

Petra Elena Köhle & Nicolas Vermot Petit-Outhenin

Frankfurter Auszug / Frankfurt Extract

Artists' newspaper, 32 pages, 341 images in color, 32 × 24 cm, newspaper in two sections, folded, 5 text sheets as loose insert, design Georg Rutishauser, edition fink, 2012. ISBN 978-3-03746-167-9.

Petra Elena Köhle & Nicolas Vermot Petit-Outhenin

Monumentalfilm / Historical Epic

Wall installation with C-print and plot. 180 × 300 cm, 2012.

I read at the same time: This will be and this has been; I observe with horror an anterior future of which death is the stake. By giving me the absolute past of the pose (aorist), the photograph tells me death in the future. What pricks me is the discovery of this equivalence. In front of the photograph of my mother as a child, I tell myself: she is going to die: I shudder, like Winnicott's psychotic patient, over a catastrophe which has already occurred. (Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida).

In the way that Barthes links photography to death, catastrophe and disappearing, the history of WWII interweaves with that of the development of color photography, with fears of destruction and disappearing. Indeed photography appears as a “technology of war” of a certain cultural hegemony. Chemical photography is a tragic space inhabited by death – and digital photography promises an even faster dispersal without material traces. In their project, the artists investigate how state apparatuses and technological dispositifs, ideological reasoning, processes of identification, selection, and elimination, create a system of measuring, which at the same time, like every scale, imposes a standardization of perception and a homogeneity in which the microfascism of everday life and a system of mobilization interact with each other. Following the different contexts of art institutions they recompose the spatio-temporal relations of the art space with their work. Through their long-term research and its traces they create temporary assemblages and architectures that reflect on how that new object fits into the very architecture of the exhibition space and the idea of display, creating a performative terrain and discursivity of its own. By this they strive to make as transparent to the public as they can the process of forming, taking down the masks of technological and dominant power dispositifs.

Text: Dimitrina Sevova