detached from all things / Heike Sütter

DeDe Handon - Corinna Krebber

detached from all things

Exhibition Opening Bellevue-Saal Wiesbaden, 13th January 2011

DeDe Handon and Corinna, exhibiting together for the first time, work at first glance in completely different areas. Important aspects of their artistic production, however, meet on a fundamental level and open up dialogic perspectives, leading to the reciprocal development of a room installation for the Bellevue-Saal.

DeDe Handon's works begin with photographs of nature that undergo a multi-step transformation process. First, she works on them on a computer; using shifts of contrast and colour balance she brings certain details to the foreground, whilst pushing others into the background. The digital-painterly reworking is followed by rasterization and the division of the image into segments that are then printed on to individual sheets - for Bellevue-Saal on thin, semi-transparent pattern-making paper. The artist then puts the thus separated motifs together again like a puzzle. She consciously includes the hard-to-control alterations that arise from the printing process - light colour shifts, the veiling or disappearance of structural details, but also the visually spatial offset between the individual sheets - as chance elements in the composition. The result is an abstracted, fragmented image.

DeDe Handon’s work is therefore not an illustrative picture but far more the result of a process that is not completely controllable. They thus avoid a pre-established, clearly defined ‘single’ viewpoint and means of understanding. The artist far more shows that an infinite wealth of further images exist within each single image, which, at the same time, holds a kind of ‘visibility reservoir’ that offers the viewer a wide and open field of association and interpretation.

The idea of openness and the creation of an associative and perceptual space also determines the work of Corinna Krebber. Her ‘source material’ is usually words or text that she cuts out either as positive or negative shapes in paper and uses for sculptures and installations. The essence for Corinna Krebber lies not in the purely conceptual content of the words, in their denotation, but in what accompanies them, what triggers ideas and thoughts; their connotation. In short, the concrete concept is simply a focal point around which to develop a space of meaning.

In formal terms, language (words and letters) is a defined and limited semiotic system that relies on a general consensus of understanding. In the Bellevue-Saal Corinna Krebber works not with words but with - if one will - a semiotic system. She builds a complex installation from horizontally and vertically arranged wooden slats that, as multiple x-, y- and z-axes of a coordination system, span and dissect the space. By creating exclusively right angles, she uses only the absolutely necessary components that are needed to capture all three dimensions. She never builds a completely enclosed space, defined in all dimensions, but rather leaves numerous small areas open and slats that are left unconnected. We could therefore say that her spaces are constructed simply from instructions, quasi from the guidelines of direction vectors. The direction-giving slats, understood at the same time as the nucleus of the constellation out of which the space concretises its continuum, are the border between the defined and the (as yet) undefined. As Corinna Krebber does not build space, but only gives guidelines for its construction, the implication is given that the viewer must complete the spatial construction process for him- or herself. The tricky part is that Corinna Krebber’s installation holds endless possibilities for combining spatial directions. Depending on one’s viewpoint, one can choose different coordination systems and add subspaces in which one can bring what is actually layered in space to apparently one surface, and so connect them to spatial edges/frames or stereometric bodies. Corinna Krebber’s contribution presents, just as DeDe Handon’s mural, a reservoir of visibility that invites the viewer to a kind of visual exploration of the structural paths given by the artist.

The Italian writer and philosopher, Umberto Eco, called works with such a reservoir ‘open artworks’ or ‘artworks in motion’. Because they do not ‘relate’ anything definite or immediately recognisable but rather open up interpretive spaces, the work ultimately exists first in the perception of the viewer. The recipient becomes an intrinsic factor that first completes the artistic work. Eco’s ‘open artworks’ deal ultimately, therefore, with the basic mechanisms of perception in general: how and as what something is shown to us depends on the conditions under which we look at it - an ‘objective’, ‘autonomous’ eye does not exist. Perception is not depleted just by recording the given world; the world is first constructed through the process of perception, it constructs itself - each time anew - through the act of seeing. That which hits the retina is filtered, correlated with memory, experience and knowledge, and interpreted. It is no coincidence that both artists have chosen as the title of their exhibition a line from a haiku. It comes from Matsuo Basho, one of the most important Japanese poets of the 17th century: ‘ Over fields, detached from all things, sings the lark’.

Haikus are poems with a clear structure: they consist of three short phrases, nature is always the subject, a present situation is always described. The most important connection, it seems to me, however, is a different characteristic: haikus are not closed, hence open, texts which are completed only in the experience of the reader. The essence lies between the lines; as with Corinna Krebber and DeDe Handon, the reader must take part in the creation of the work. The following quote taken from a theoretical text on haikus, can be applied directly to the work of both artists: ‘Explicit art that tries to tell us all that it means will close itself off within its own boundaries. Art with suggestive hints is, in contrast, boundless - it is as wide and as deep as our minds make it’.

The distinctive combination of the haiku nature motif (mural) and structure (spatial scaffolding) is found here in the works in the Bellevue-Saal. Both pieces are connected not only through the aspect of openness, but also through their dialogic play with space: DeDe Handon fragments pictorial space in her work, Corinna Krebber real space. Through DeDe Handons’s nature motifs, the inner and the outer are interlocked, through Corinna Krebber’s spatial structure, real inner space and the pictorial space of nature brought indoors. So, the view into the space and to the mural changes with every step; crossing the room we see successively new perspectives, discover new viewpoints or viewing relationships - and perhaps also breaks and inconsistencies.

For me, the work of both artists refers metaphorically to the modern understanding of space: in contrast to the Renaissance, in which space was seen as a kind of ‘box’ - a static, consistent construct that can be objectively grasped (the idea of central perspective derives from this), space is today explored as a far more abstract, comprehensive construct that includes more aspects of physics and sensual experience. It a construct that is first produced through the activities of the actors, through many relationships to each other - and to supraindividual aspects such as history, culture and scientific knowledge. This gives rise to the idea of space that constantly alters its configuration, is and passes, in that much - also the contradictory - can co-exist simultaneously. The philosophers, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, have called this idea of spatial organisation rhizome. It describes a hierarchy-less system without predestined, specified links, balanced on all sides and in which everything is connected. A rhizome has many paths, entrances and exists - one as important as the other. The counterpart to this is the tree whose growth is structured linearly and hierarchically: over levels that all originate from the main trunk.

I know that talking about art sometimes leads to interpretational antics, but I believe it is not too presumptious to say that Corinna Krebber’s spatial structure can lead to thoughts of a rhizome. And how alluring that is stands opposite the trees with their branches in DeDe Handon’s mural.

Heike Sütter / Januar 2011 Translation: Heather Allen