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One or two aspects of Michaela Zimmer’s paintings by Richard Neal

There’s a medium-sized square canvas, with a creamy background. The colour is in itself essentially nondescript, yet has a certain tang, and you could imagine it having been ripped directly from some school or hospital corridor a couple of decades ago. This impression of an old, out of place backing surface is furthered by the paint treatment at some of its edges, which scrapes over the sides as if it had been a workbench or notice board, used and abused for many a year.
Not only the edges and background, though: also the paint in the centre at first appears to have been put down with a force that does not take much account of to what it has been applied. Splats and splotches, some just beginning to smear, fill the central areas in a way that leaves an inchoate whole of nevertheless distinct elements and layers, but one has to concentrate to distinguish one from another. One could (as I did) at first glance make a mistake, and think it just a, if not random mess, then maybe an uncomposed one. Just how mistaken, and not mistaken, one might be at that point provides one of the key interests of Michaela Zimmer’s paintings.
In this case, one would be wrong. And the truth reveals itself slowly, to these eyes at times at any rate. The layers of splashes and smears – in undiluted ochre, white, ultramarine and cadmium yellow – form a complex and complete structure with its own internal dynamics and balances. It’s finely judged, indeed perhaps a little cunning in its artlessness. The pure, unmixed colours are a wholly different key to the background. What binds fore and back together is the common, perhaps misleading, sense of something found rather than made, a seemingly arbitrary dynamism.
To take another case, I feel I must betray a secret from the artist’s working process. There is a diptych, this time with a blue that again has the diluted slight dullness of wall paint applied some time ago in some office or school, surmounted by white-dominated splats that to the left outline, in the same haphazard way that combines the randomly imprecise and the decisive, a thrusting vertical form, tapered at the centre, extending beyond the canvas like a close up of a hyperboloid tower. To the right is an arc of apparent abandon around a void that nonetheless counterpoises the overall architecture forcefully. It turns out that this thoroughly designed arrangement was obtained by placing what had been used as a palette on the canvas. It was later judged to have whatever qualities necessary to remain as a work – the qualities I just tried to enumerate above.
And it’s these qualities that are key here, not the process by which they have been achieved, which may be misleading. Chance is used not as a privileged game for its own end. Results are not accepted regardless, and what is seen is a decision that originates in the artist’s eye, no matter at which stage she chooses to employ, before or after the laying down of the paint.
Yet the presence of chance is a visible subtext. There is not often a direct touch; we are a little disoriented in terms of sensing the origins of what our eyes address, so the process is indeed analogous to the painted image.
What we do feel is something caught. That something is a dynamic and not an object, something of great movement and energy, but there is no rhetoric of effort. Within the allowed coalescing of layers and elements, which may involve some time, there is then a certain economy and compression, centering in on a moment. We arrive at energy, presence, completeness, and the final figures appear to have just arrived, under their own steam, fresh out of nowhere, sometimes singing. This energy, willed with discretion and openness though also discrimination, amounts to a voice. One which allows the work to have its own presence, within a certain control, and perhaps stands back a touch, if only to let the painting come forward a little more.
What structure does mess have? And what expression of that might then be found useful for a painting? One more description: on a pre-printed canvas, this time a surface that certainly was found, the above dialectics are rehearsed on a new level. The found background is a roughly pixelated, finely patterned screen of naturalistic elements, probably digitally generated and brightly printed. It has a neat border of white. It’s hard to focus on, because of its own nature and that of what has been placed on top. On it has been applied, with what appears to be a certain glee, a morass of smudged acrylic and spray-paint. The contrasts between background and foreground; form and mess; composition and sheer smear; materiality, space and music are even starker here. That they yet find a stronger resolution, with, at one glance, a look of a child’s playing, and the next, an ocean of blue paint forms authoritatively dominating its territory like the continents on a colonial map, and any other reading you may care to find in between, gives the clue as to where the real painter’s approach and presence may lie, both right on the surface swiftly moving in front of your eyes, and also right off, afar, and outside, watching you watching it, allowing it all to take place.

still/silent | Erika Matsunami | Catalog Review

Erika Matsunamis works comprise a spectrum of both themes and media that spans from sculpture and photography by way of video and performance art all the way to mixed-media installations. Among these works, one of the most prominent is the serial project “still/silent” that is documented here for the period from 2007 through 2010. Initially arising from her collaboration with the composer and pianist Antonis Anissegos, “still/silent” was realized multiple times since 2007 and was then refined and developed in collaboration with the composer and bassist Chris Dahlgren and the sound engineer Niklas Schmincke. The original idea for “still/silent”, however, was conceived in Hiroshima, the city that fell victim to the first atomic bomb attack in 1945 and Matsunamis city of birth: between collective remembrance and individual recollection, “still/silent” connects the question of identity with a dialectic of concept and variation.

By structurally inscribing her work with a re-contextualization of space-times and media, she has it refer and point to the potentiality of the identity creating function of remembering. The spatial transfer that is programmatically expressed in the choice of diverging venues of performance, thus intuitively becomes the transformation in the sense of the experiment in medium and memory. Its open structure thereby makes “still/silent” perceptible as prospective artistic practice that works with the motive of silence and the possibility of peace.

The catalogue presents the project by means of photographs and video-stills in different phases of its development and provides insights into the artistic methods of Matsunami and her collaborators Anissegos, Dahlgren and Schmincke. Additionally, “still/silent” is theoretically discussed in conversations between the participating artists on the different aspects of their respective work and in the interviews Matsunami herself conducted with the curators Shaheen Merali and Tatjana Fell which fathom the social dimension of artistic mediation in particular. Finally, Dr Miya Yoshida, Dr Susanne Hauser, Natasha Bordiglia and Gye-Joong Kim in their respective essays explore the aspects of cultural difference and its possible balance in art.

Berlin 2011, 96 pages, approx. 150 pictures, 21cm x 21 cm, soft cover, English, contains a DVD with audio-visual works and videos of the performances (2007-2010)

ISBN: 978-3-86895-194-3
Revolver Publishing by VVV

Erika Matsunami is berlinerpool artist:

More information about berlinerpool artist Tatjana Fell:
FRAGILE - global performance chain journey

For the current art initiative of German-Italian artists Verena Stenke and Andrea Pagnes, one fragile object travels the world through the hands of hundrets of artists.

Can one fragile object, in times of email, chat and mobility, pass one time all around the world safely – from hand to hand, charging itself with stories and people? Will it be the same when it returns?
These are the questions that Verena Stenke and Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage) were considering when they designed their current global art project FRAGILE-global performance chain journey .
Now the project has turned real- more than 750 artists from 62 countries joined the project, among which some of the most renowned contemporary artists and performer.

The action that animates the project, even if presenting for its nature a certain degree of unpredictability, is simple: a fragile object travels from hand to hand, from artist to artist, and in this way step by step one time around the globe, through all continents and various cultures.
The travel has started in the first week of September, when the idea-makers Verena Stenke and Andrea Pagnes brought the object from its departure point in Florence, Italy to Belgrade. It was consigned to another artist there, the first participant, and she on her side brings the object to Germany, to give it to the next participating artist. This way, the mechanism of “travel from hand to hand around the world” has begun.

The object is a glass-plate, handmade in Murano, Italy, of 25cm in diameter. Inside the transparent glass are gold leaves. A simple but precious object, which for the idea-makers expresses the spirit of the actual project: it is something fragile like the world we live in, and we are forming this whole by being part of it.

The aim of the project is to raise visibility and consciousness about our continuous fragility of life and planet, because everything is pure and extreme fragility. This project opens a creative and artistic dialogue on the argument- every artist, once he or she is in hold of the object, realizes a work of art with the object. Performance Artists create live actions, musicians compose pieces around the topic, while visual artists approach it with paintings, installations or sculptures. All works conceived for the project will be part of a final catalogue of FRAGILE-global performance chain journey, a sort of kaleidoscopic logbook of contemporary art.
On the project’s website all art works are visible, and the single steps of the journey are to be followed in real-time.
The importance of the initiative is not just circumscribed by contemporary art with its multitude of expressions and approaches, but also on investigations on phenomena like globalization, ecology, on what nowadays tolerance means for us, on the under standing among nations and the need of peace in our world, and the benefits that cultural exchange can arise within a necessity of democracy on an International perspective.

FRAGILE-global performance chain journey is a people-project, based on interpersonal exchange and individual creativity and responsibility because, in all this, the goal is to make the fragile object return safely and intact to its place of departure, after having passed the hands of all participants around the world.

The idea-makers of the project VestAndPage work together since 2006, mainly on the field of Performance and video art. They present their works all over the world. They origin artistically from different backgrounds: the Venetian born Andrea Pagnes started working in visual arts and writing, whereas the German Verena Stenke worked in theatre and dance. Uniting their experiences, they speak about a poetry based on the concepts of transformation, fragility and unity.

FRAGILE-global performance chain journey is a project supported by a network of International organizations and cultural institutions in Europe and South America.
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