COME OUT (TO SHOW THEM)
Images courtesy the artist and SEXAUER Gallery
Photos Marcus Schneider
JPS: Caroline, you are well-known for your ballpoint pen drawings. They are usually up to 270 x 190 cm and consist of thousands of lines drawn with a ruler. This time you have made a floor piece of 15 x 15 meters. Why?
CK: I see it as a huge drawing. The gallery’s gray floor, which is not visible at the moment, is very dominant otherwise. It is by far the largest surface in the gallery, much larger than the walls. The physical experience is important to me. The floor piece changes the perception of the space as a whole. The walls and even the ceiling have a pink hue from the red floor’s reflection. It is strenuous to expose oneself to it, one might get dizzy. I placed the grid of lines at a slight angle and it does not cover the whole floor. The silkscreen prints do, but not the grid. This is a reference to the works on paper, the drawing is practically laid out on in the hall. The hall has a square shape. I undermine this shape by suggesting a slightly shifted rectangle, which leads to additional tension.
JPS: You have put together over seven hundred silkscreen prints for this piece, a very elaborate process. Why silkscreen printing?
CK: My works are always handmade and thereby analog. Even if they sometimes seem to be machine-made or computer-generated. Differently than my works on paper, I used grid-based modules for this floor piece that basically function like tapestry. As a result the structure is constructed very evenly. To retain that human imprecision that is quintessential to my drawings, I decided to use silkscreen printing for the floor piece. Silkscreen is an analog printing technique and each leaf looks a little different. The template for the prints is also drawn and made by hand. There are little errors and irregularities that make the piece alive. These give the work something human, something uncontrollable. I am convinced that this is something the viewer perceives, albeit unconsciously. Besides, silkscreen printing demands strength. It is a bodily challenge, similar to the large-scale ballpoint pen drawings, especially due to the large number of prints it took to complete the floor piece. This way the work resembles an unique drawing rather than a typical print. An original emerging from reproductions.
JPS: The title of the exhibition: Come out (to show them). What is it that you refer to?
CK: It is the title of a Steve Reich composition. In this work, Reich uses multiple tape recorders and always the same sequence of words: “come out to show them”. The quote comes from the statement of a young man who was subjected to police brutality. It is continuously repeated. The slightly differing speeds of the devices result in a barely audible scintillation. Just like the drawings and the floor piece. This method of Reich, phase shifting and minimal deviations of a recurring constant, is very familiar to me. How the nucleus of his work refers to reality is also something that interests me. That reference, however, is not that direct in my work as in Reich’s. My ballpoint pen drawings are inspired by everyday photos I take of recurring structures. Construction components stacked on each other, façades, fences, walls.
JPS: Which one is more important to you, the concept or the execution?
CK: The execution is also important to me. Here I differ from Sol LeWitt, for him the idea was the most important. Although I am very systematical in my work, it is always an intuitive approach that marks the beginning of a process. In this sense I am closer to Steve Reich. For me, the systematical approach is a tool and never an end in itself. Similar to music, the execution of meaning and the viewer’s experience remain significant even after the concept and the system are determined. A temporal dimension emerges through the repetitive moment. Repetition is only possible “in time”. The temporal dimension is reinforced through uninterrupted exposure of the viewer to the work. They can only withdraw by leaving the gallery premises.
JPS: What was most fascinating to you about this work?
CK: There were many things. It was certainly exciting not to know how the piece would turn out until the final moment of completion. Also, in contrast to works that are not site-specific, I could not just replace it. I had just one shot. I also could not just simulate it beforehand. When I walk through the hall after completion for the first time and see that it ‘works’, that is, of course, splendid. Obviously, unpredictable things happen too, which are crucial for such a work.