KATHARINA SIEVERDING 2011
NORAD and Resource Terabyte
Eröffnung am Freitag, dem 4. März, von 19 bis 21 Uhr
The intensely coloured images of the NORAD cycle from the 1980s and the polarizing colour contrasts of the series, Resource Terabyte, from 2009 stage Katharina Sieverding's dialectical method in an exemplary way. Whereas she otherwise operates frequently against the foil of her own face with superpositions and polarities laden with meaning — "self-questioning and media reflection, mirroring and metamorphosis, ... pose and affect, drama and matter-of-factness, history and transparency, colour and black-and-white, positive and negative, repetition and variation" (Armin Zweite) —, here the gaze is turned toward the world. Mirror and transcendence of the conditio humana are as if woven into the complexly made analogue photographs. Step for step of the lighting, layering and fixing were done by the artist's hand — alchemy of technical handicraft in conjunction with creative control, fired by intuition, with the awareness of responsibility for an artistic regulative for the course of the world.
It is not only form and shape that peel off as distinctive characteristics from the underground of photographic layers, but rather, it is the opposing pairs of colours which, in their juxtaposition, make the intellectual fruitfulness of the confrontation and combination visible. Thus, substantial and formal decisions weave together into the image, into the creation of an image which does not pay homage to the pure reproductive character of the photographic medium, but transposes photography into a contemporary method for discovering meaning and form.
The vis-à-vis here is not one's own in the other as a face or figure, but the world and its formalization of pleasure and danger, threat and protection. In NORAD I a mysterious woman climbs out of the depths of a garish green semicircle that lies like a cape around her shoulders, the guardian of death in female form from Cocteau's Orphée. She is standing in front of the tunnel entrance to the NORAD data-reception headquarters. NORAD — North American Aerospace Defense Command — is the still active facility of the United States and Canada to protect against intercontinental missiles and attacks from space.
In NORAD I, the thematic interrelations oscillate in their references to protection and threat. The angel of death becomes the Madonna in a protective robe; the omnipotent military power disappears as a small jeep with helmet in the depths of the portrayal.
The absurdity and tragedy of the dwindling omnipotence of the superpowers is treated not least of all by David Foster Wallace in his book, Infinite Jest. Here, in a not too distant future, the United States, Canada and Mexico have united to form O.N.A.N., the Organization of North American Nations. The former U.S.-Canadian border area has been evacuated and transformed into an enormous garbage dump. (The fallout in tax revenues through the loss of territory is compensated by selling to corporations the right to name years.) Some French-Canadian separatist groups have extended their operations to former U.S. territory, in particular, the wheelchair-driving Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents (A.F.R.). They would like to employ a video cassette as a weapon: the film, Infinite Jest, the last work of the director, James O. Incandenza. Anyone viewing this film is irrevocably set back to the intellectual age of a small child within a few minutes and does not want anything anymore other than to watch this film over and over again.
The NORAD cycle has to do with the mechanisms of fear and danger, protection and aggression, perhaps also with love and betrayal. In the second NORAD work in the exhibition, pleasure and danger seem to be transposed into the private sphere. In monumental size, a male figure is bending over a female figure whose head turns away. Turning-toward and affection permeate NORAD III; on the left of the picture, another female figure seems to be crouching, turned away from the scene. Buried in the sand and formed out of mud — formalization of existence, of interaction, genesis and passing away of human being and figure. The human being disappears like a face drawn in the sand on the seashore.
In the works of the Resource Terabyte cycle from 2009, a tripartite division of the panel transfers the syntax of the expression onto three elements. Three elements joined into a work; work and viewer follow the author's intention. The assembly of the image-spaces, architectures, persons is extremely dynamic, urgent, resembling more a call to action than the recording of a state of affairs. The basic structure of these tripartite articulations are records of a visual kind from art, society, history, systems of art, economics, biographies, performance. To bear witness to how the controlled guidance of the series of images revises the 'death of the author' is a call to active participation, is the fulfilled necessity to fill the standpoint of the observer with vitality.
Katharina Sieverding lives and works in Düsseldorf and Berlin.