Thomas Zander

Lothar Baumgarten

13 Nov 2010 - 19 Feb 2011

© Lothar Baumgarten
from: River Crossing (Ihr Besitz ist nicht größer als die Kraft ihrer Schultern), 1979
16 s/w prints
25 1/2 x 32 inch / 23 1/2 x 18 inch / 44 x 65 1/4 inch
64,5 x 81,5 cm / 59,5 x 46 cm / 111,5 x 165,8 cm
River Crossing
13 November, 2010 - 19 February, 2011

Galerie Thomas Zander is currently presenting its first solo exhibition of works by Lothar Baumgarten. “River Crossing” features photographs from the artist’s 1978 work of the same title, the audio piece “Caimán, Nariz Blanca” (1978–2009), chromogenic prints from the series “Kultur Natur” (1968–1972), a few wall drawings (1967, 1989–2005), and “Schiffslinien” (1969).

The work of the internationally renowned artist has focused since the late 1960s on themes such as the oppositions of culture / nature and self / other. Like previous shows of Baumgarten’s work, this exhibition is to be regarded in its totality as a work in situ. The canon behind its presentation and the dimension of its thematic circuit counterbalance one another. Measure and proportion, materiality and ratio, light, colour and time are the elements determining our perception of the exhibit. Freed from cultural contexts, its universal appearance, identity, and presence are formulated by means of its intellectual and personal poetics. It argues from the materiality of found circumstances, and through its intuitive manipulated new settings. The personal grammar of its gesture and point of view on the world mobilizes all-encompassing reflections, while the intensity of what is formulated affords us access to the identity of what we are looking at. A discourse of engagement opens up, a readiness to get involved, that at the same time completes the work. Self-reflection, along with invention, is what guides here the documentary eye of the photographic language in the photographic image. An emphasis on grasping what a site is all about, on the “sense of place,” is characteristic for Baumgarten’s work.

The work “River Crossing,” making its European debut at the gallery, consists of a sequence of 16 black-and-white photographs. “Ihr Gegenstand ist die Passage, das archaisch, menschliche Drama der Überquerung eines Flusses, der Bewegung zwischen zwei Ufern. Sie ist hier durch das Bemühen und die Notwendigkeit bestimmt, eine Lichtung, schnell gegen das Eintauchen in die schützende Tarnung der unbeweglichen Fassade des Waldes zu tauschen. Die Unmittelbarkeit der eiligen Aktionen dieses komplexen Moments, wie auch die erlebte Nähe aller Beteiligten des Ereignisses, waren von essenzieller Bedeutung für die Entscheidung zu dieser fotografischen Serie. Mein Interesse galt diesem Zustand der inneren Schwebe, dem Umstand unmittelbarer Empfindung, als Basis für meine Arbeit bei den Yãnomãmɨ. Es geht mir bei der Sicht auf die Dinge um den Sinn für die Unmittelbarkeit bei der Umsetzung eigener Wahrnehmung, um die Bildfindung und den vielschichtigen Ausdruck in ihrer Materialisation und Form." (LB)

“Caimán, Nariz Blanca,” or “Caimán, White Nose,” “A white ’SAAB’, model 900, 1989, has been transformed into an audio piece, with the title, ’Caimán, Nariz Blanca’, which refers to its morphological appearance. It functions as a place, a location, as a time capsule and as an exceptional 35-hour audio experience. It provides an intimet space for contemplation on time and distance, it confronts under the cars acoustic dome with the native tongue, spoken by the Yãnomãmi people. It is a piece about space and time, about the awareness of dying and extinct languages, a reflection on linguistic diversity and a cultural critique of agony and resignation. It is a statement by the Yãnomãmi society for their poetics of ’non-writing literature’.
Carefully restored and only altered with a newly installed surround sound system, it provides a hermetically sealed audio space to receive ethnographic field recordings, which were recorded in various settlements for a period of eighteen months during the years 1978, 1979 and 1980 while I lived among the Yãnomãmi people in the deep rain forests of the Upper Orinoco region and the Parima mountains between Venezuela and Brazil. The content of the work is not only embedded in the formal grammar and its physical appearance, it is rather present through the human dialogue and exchange which the piece provides. The gravity of the experience, shared for eighteen months without any contact to the outside world is present in these recordings. My constant physical presence in all the recordings is obvious, but this presence does not exist phonetically in any of the takes from the beginning to the end. The ’Saab’ is a substitute for my silent physical presence at the time of the recording process and at the same time it stands for my absence during its presentation“. (LB)

Also on view in the exhibition are four chromogenic prints from the series “Kultur/Natur” (1968–1972). “Die Unmittelbarkeit und Essenz dieser ephemeren Skulpturen begründet sich in ihrer reduzierten, zeitlichen Existenz. Ihre imaginäre Sprache ist der Entwurf für eine Grammatik der Interaktion von Sprache und Form, durch die, die Manipulation vorgefundener Umstände und deren Transformation in neue Anordnungen bestimmt ist. Ihre ephemere Erscheinung und Unabhängigkeit in wechselnden Kontexten, wie auch die Vergänglichkeit ihrer organischen Substanz und Struktur, ihre sinnliche Qualität und die in ihrer Materialität eingeschlossenen Informationen über die Psyche der Dinge, waren schon früh von Interesse für mich. Es ist der geschichtslose Prozess der Zeit der hier sichtbar wird und einen mentalen Raum öffnet. Meine Arbeit entsteht in der Bewegung, daher ihre Nähe zur Musik. Ihre Poetik schöpft aus der Musikalität des Prozesses vergleichenden Sehens.“ (LB)

One wall drawing, entitled “Grundriss, pars pro toto V” (1989–2005), close the exhibition circuit, above a glass case holding “Schiffslinien” (1969).

Lothar Baumgarten’s work is regularly shown and represented since 1984 by Marian Goodman Gallery New York / Paris, and has been presented all over the world in solo exhibitions at major museums and shown at venues including the Alhóndiga Bilbao (2010); Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, MACBA (2008); Museum Kurhaus, Kleve (2006); Museu Serralves, Porto (2005); Dallas Museum of Art, Texas (2004); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003); De Pont, Tilburg (2002); Hamburger Kunsthalle (2001); Kunsthaus Zürich (1998); Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris (1995); Renaissance Society, Chicago (1993); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1993); Portikus, Frankfurt/Main (1993); Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia (1992); Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld (1992); Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (1991); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1990); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt a. M. (1990); Kunsthalle Bern (1987); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (1987); ARC/ Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1986); Museo de Bellas Artes Caracas (1986); Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (1985); 41st Biennale di Venezia, German Pavilion (with A.R. Penck), Venice (1984); Castello di Rivoli (1984); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (1982); documenta, Kassel (1972, 1982, 1992, 1997); Carnegie International (1988, 1991). The recently reopened Folkwang Museum in Essen is currently displaying “Fragmento Brasil/ Vom Ursprung der Tischsitten” (1971-2005) as part of its permanent collection.

Tags: Lothar Baumgarten, A. R. Penck