Introduction for the exhibition October, Barbara Koch / Dirk Pleyer 28th October till 25th November Conservatory at Schloss Rheda and Workshop Bleichhäuschen
All artists invited for a show in the conservatory saw and interpreted the room from a different angle and used this as a starting point for the creation of their artworks. The majority of them dealt with the formal aspects of the space – with the architecture, the light and its impact, the proportion or the rhythm. All these are aspects, which both, Barbara Koch and Dirk Pleyer, have taken into account, too. However, they focused on the room’s function. The question about its purpose, its usage, forms the centre of attention for the interpretation of the two artists.
The conservatory today is mainly used and rented out for parties and celebrations. Weddings, work parties, club festivities and galas take place in the space. As a location for festivities the conservatory was taken up by the two artists, here they started their line of thought, which eventually distances the room from its normal function. While looking at the space for the first time, the approximately four meter high gallery directly attracted the attention of both artists. The gallery seems like a predestined place from which highly important events are announced. This frontal situation gives us directions for reading the installation. Even the visitor becomes a part of the installation, when entering the room he automatically positions himself in front of the gallery while looking up to it.
But lets start at an earlier point: The spectator enters the room through a small side door – and is irritated quite fast. He realizes that there is something going on here, however, if this action is going to happen, has already taken place, is currently going on or is just interrupted remains unresolved. Here, a party is taking place or it took place. As if the vague moment in time is not irritating enough, even the question about the occasion, the reason for the party remains unanswered. Is it really a festivity or rather a proclamation? Maybe even a political event? The portraits of both historical figures, Lenin and Hindenburg, on the banners, which are hanging from the gallery, only let us guess but do not reveal their intension.
A special atmosphere, evoked by the artists by these for the installation assembled party accessories, is barely perceptible but at the same time thereby not less absorbing. The space seems to be abandoned in a ghostly way. It suggests a state in limbo, a being between times and intentions. These contrasts like seriousness and happiness, decaying, becoming and being are implemented by the piece. Thus, it emits a morbid, because impalpable mood. Time and again, contrasts and opposites are topic in the visual arts because this field of tension between the existing antipodes is nearly inexhaustible. Here the work does not have to be explained further, from here it simply has to be perceived.
The title of the exhibition emerged from the fact that this show coincidentally was to start in the month of October and also by coincidence this year is the year of the 1917 Russian Revolution’s 90th anniversary. That is why two protagonists of this historical event become a side topic in the show. Through this, the aforementioned question about what happened and why becomes even more important. Here, the artists use allegorical means. To explain those for the specific situation of the space I want to formulate a few sentences to give you something like a short historical outline.Paul von Hindenburg, a convinced monarchist and Commander in Chief of the 8. Division at the Eastern Front during World War I was partly responsible for sending Lenin from his exile back to Russia. As a result, this political enemy was able to become an initiator for the October Revolution. The Russian army and in consequence the Eastern Front was weakened by the Revolution. Even if it cannot be proven that Hindenburg was able to foresee all this, it still held advantages for the German Reich during the war.
Thus, it can be assumed that two political enemies formed an alliance through which both came closer to achieving their goals while on the other hand serving the opponent at the same time. With regards to this short, opportunistically shaped gathering – a personal encounter actually never took place – the banners and the corresponding festive atmosphere can be associated with a kind of marriage. Both heads are painted on fabric with phosphorescent colours thus emitting an afterglow in the dark – like ghosts of history they flare up again and again long after their actual death.This here is not a political statement. Both characters can be seen as allegories for gatherings, arrangements of any kind. They can stand for the case of alliances and coalitions developing from which both parties have their advantages, even if these parties originally do not belong together or even act in opposition to each other. The whole installation is kept in white. The colour gives everything its neutrality and emphasizes again the being in between, the still to be determined state. We do not know what happens here in detail and the colour, which often leads the way, shall certainly not reveal it either.
White as an expressive means gives the observer a wide range of associative possibilities. The colour does not commit itself. Nevertheless, it is full of symbols. Furthermore, it was the colour of the rich, because the bleaching of clothing was a quite expensive undertaking. Here it forms a connection with the elevated space in the conservatory at the chateaux. To connect again with the historical aspect of the work: White is also the colour for the anticommunist and anti-Semitic terror of the Russian Revolution.In addition to this complex conceptual structure, both artists also concentrated on the aesthetic aspect. The rectangle enclosed by the plinths does not only allow associations with festive moments but has to be regarded as an aesthetic image of its own. Voluntarily, the observer takes part in looking at trivial, cheaply manufactured materials, which seem to be composed in a completely random way. If we see the rectangle as a painting, it reminds us of a Pollock-like All-Over. The confetti, the paper streamers and flags run like nervous brush strokes and dribbled colour over the canvas. The whole installation can be read as a three-dimensional painting and leaves at that point the conceptual art genre.
If we look at the installation from this perspective, it is the colour white which most strongly enters into a dialogue with its surroundings. Depending on the angle in which the light falls into the room, not an unimportant aspect here in the conservatory, the colour seems alien, strange and generates an in itself continually changing atmosphere. White as the colour of innocence, colour of weddings, colour of the rich, colour of purity, colour of mourning, colour of christenings, of the Holy Communion – we can think of unlimited interpretations in context of this part of the picture. This is exactly what enables the spectator to determine himself what or which celebrated purpose he wants to find in the installation.In the workshop Bleichhäuschen, an additional piece of the installation can be found: Freed from their heads, luminescent beards (Lenin’s and Hindenburg’s) cast in silicone are hanging as objects at the wall. In the darkness they spill their glow over us. It seems as if the two characters of those two historical personas flare up in front of us. In addition to the wall-objects, there is a video. We can see the sky and in front of our eyes a white flag is waved, an element, which comes up again and again in the installation. The waving flag seems somehow helpless, small and anxious yet at the same time full of energy, consequent and persistent.
Going to installation October