Capitain Petzel

Peter Piller


21 Jun - 03 Aug 2019

Installation view: Peter Piller, "Geduld", June 21 – August 3, 2019 © the artist and Capitain Petzel, Berlin. Ph: Jens Ziehe
21 June – 3 August 2019

Capitain Petzel is pleased to announce Geduld by Peter Piller, the artist’s third solo exhibition at the gallery.

By installing a sound installation in the gallery’s lower ground floor – the exhibition’s eponymous work and the first ever sound-based work by the artist – Piller lays a foundation of sorts that underpins the content of the works on the walls of the building’s ground floor. Isolated from the vocals of various cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach and reassembled as a montage, the word Geduld (patience) is presented as a minimalistic sound collage. With this, the artist reduces the concept of patience – one supposedly unambiguously associated with strength of character – to a symbol open to other interpretations and projections. The principle displayed here towards the work’s audience – of openly offering rather than explicitly determining – is also repeated in the wall-based works presented elsewhere in the exhibition.

Peter Piller’s early works were executed almost exclusively in the medium of drawing. And so his growing interest in Stone Age cave drawings in recent years, particularly those of Southwest France, in fact represents a return to his artistic roots. In the course of his research, Piller discovered early academic publications that present not just the depictions of animals found in the caves of Lascaux and Rouffignac, among others, but also other, sketch-like symbols and so-called “indeterminate lines” (to give them their academic term) on the walls that elude interpretation and definition. Then as now, as surely in the future, one must be content to speculate on the meaning of the graphic remnants of that earlier time. Often featuring blurring or flaws in their original printing, the photographs reproduced and enlarged by Piller in his own prints do not indicate any clearly recognisable referent, but merely an open system of sign and symbol. The collection of lines on the rocks’ surfaces could equally be taken for aerial photographs or macro images showing the structures of the skin.

Piller accompanies the somewhat indefinable visual content of these prints with his own Ortszeichnungen (Place Drawings), to which he has repeatedly returned during the last thirty years. The A4-size drawings were made by the artist in the vicinity of caves he visited. Comparable to the inscrutability of the images of the cave drawings photographed by Piller, these too are ambiguous symbols; not topological recordings, but subjective traces of memory and imagination.

a space of deference
e.g. 30,000 years ago someone leaves a drawing on a wall and for 12,000 years nothing is added, then someone takes their finger and draws five vertical lines of a few centimetres in length next to it. it’s hard to believe it was us.

the skilful is merely the more colourful aspect of mastery.
drawing is processual, always, physical, it produces sounds, it didn’t exist in the world, it’s an action.

signs are embedded in cultural contexts. if the link to these contexts is missing, the sign ceases to be unequivocal and so is able to produce not just one but many different evolutionary regressions, a return to things. sound speaks to us in a foreign language.

Peter Piller, May 2019

Peter Piller (*1968) lives and works in Hamburg. From 2006 to 2018 he was professor for photography at the HGB Leipzig and since 2018 he is head of the class for fine art at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.

Beginning at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, from 2014–2016 his touring exhibition “Belegkontrolle” was shown at the Centre de la Photographie Genève, the Städtische Galerie Nordhorn, the Kunsthalle Nürnberg and the Kunst Haus Wien. Other important solo exhibitions have included the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg; Museum Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen (both 2018); then Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2011); the Kunstmuseum Bonn (2009); the Kunsthaus Glarus (2007); Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2005/2006) and the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen (2003).

Peter Piller was awarded the Edwin Scharff Prize by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg (2011); the Ars Viva Prize by the Federation of German Industries (2004); the Rubens Prize by the City of Siegen (2003) and the Albert Renger Patzsch Prize by the Dietrich Oppenberg Foundation Essen (2003).

The 10-volume artist’s book series “Archiv Peter Piller” was published between 2003 and 2006 by Revolver – Archiv für Aktuelle Kunst.