Duisburg-Ruhrort, June 2017
The year is 1930—a present wracked by profound crises worldwide. The social order is coming unstuck, but so are traditional categories of knowledge. Europe’s imperialist expansion is at its zenith even as its very legitimacy is being radically called into question. Political and social conflicts quickly assume global dimensions. The First World War, revolutions, the industrialisation of production, the scientization of everyday life, and new images and encounters with alterity distributed by mass culture have shaken the Eurocentric worldview to its core—and all the old certainties that came with it. Both economic and social crises corresponded with an epistemological nervosity that has reached fever pitch. The individual’s place in time and even the concept of history itself have become problematic. In search of new beginnings, a new critical awareness manifests itself in a recourse to all things archaic, to “deep time,” and to notions of humanity’s “childhood.” Ethnologists and prehistorians play a crucial role in the anthropological speculation sparked by origins of all kinds. Disseminated by the media and by the increasingly important ﬁeld of art journalism, “world art”and the spectacle of cave painting become cultural formulae for a revised view of history and modernism. Taking Carl Einstein’s “Handbuch der Kunst” as its operative center, Section A sheds light on pictorial and textual articulations of the “archaic illusion” of the period from the 1920s to the 1940s.
— from a Catalog on the works of Carl Einstein
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Mißtrauen in das Geschick der Literatur, Mißtrauen in das Geschick der Freiheit, Mißtrauen in das Geschick der europäischen Menschheit, vor allem aber Mißtrauen, Mißtrauen und Mißtrauen in alle Verständigung: zwischen den Klassen, zwischen den Völkern, zwischen den Einzelnen. Und unbegrenztes Mißtrauen in I. G. Farben und die friedliche Vervollkommnung der Luftwaffe. Aber was nun, was dann?
— Walter Benjamin, Der Surrealismus, 1929
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X and Eye, Bochum, July 2020
Consistency is for pussies, who can’t deal with the complexity that life is. How can you expect consistency from a work of art, when all around you is this all-the-time-all-the-things-at-once?
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A dictionary begins when it no longer gives the meaning of words, but their tasks. Thus formless is not only an adjective having a given meaning, but a term that serves to bring things down in the world, generally requiring that each thing have its form. What it designates has no rights in any sense and gets itself squashed everywhere, like a spider or an earthworm. In fact, for academic men to be happy, the universe would have to take shape. All of philosophy has no other goal: it is a matter of giving a frock coat to what is, a mathematical frock coat. On the other hand, affirming that the universe resembles nothing and is only formless amounts to saying that the universe is something like a spider or spit.
— G. Bataille, Documents 1, Paris, 1929
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Aschau, July 2015
Man coming into darkened room
Man blinded by light
Man shielding his eyes against the sun
Man watching silently
Man becoming aware of darkness setting in
Man awakens too bright morning light
Man barely able to see in dark
Man watching his blurred reflection in window
Man shaving, observing his jawline, foam being scraped away, light coming in from tiny bathroom window
Man lowering blinds against the rising sun
Man closing eyes to go to sleep
Man flipping through pages of a book
Man flicking switch of light in the hallway
Man flicking switch off the light by the sofa, room going into full darkness before eyes adjust
Man stepping out of shade
Man putting on sunglasses
Man putting off sunglasses before he steps into café from street
Man pinching and rubbing aching eyes
Man’s face being lit by flickering lights from TV
Man looking at photograph
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Drum, wer Ohren hat zu hören, der höre!
Es ist nicht zwei, nicht drei, nicht tausende,
es ist Eins und alles;
es ist nicht Körper und Geist geschieden,
dass eine der Zeit, das andere der Ewigkeit angehöre,
es ist Eins, gehört sich selbst,
und ist Zeit und Ewigkeit zugleich,
und sichtbar und unsichtbar, bleibend im Wandel,
ein unendliches Leben.
Karoline von Günderode
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