Sassa Truelzsch

Winfried Bullinger & Klaus Vom Bruch

19 - 22 Sep 2013

© Winfried Bullinger
Portrait, Dassanech 2013
Analog bw print on baryta paper
180 x 145 cm
courtesy of SASSA TRÜLZSCH, Berlin
19 – 22 September 2013

Sassa Trülzsch's presentation at the abc 2013 consists of a collaborative display by Klaus vom Bruch and Winfried Bullinger. Two existing works are placed one over the other for this occasion in order to probe their own curatorial rhetoric. For what occurs when artworks begin communicating with each other? The construct as planned by the artists is accessible from two sides, with each of them inferring the wall of a home.

What was initially intended merely as self-ironic decoration for his own home, in which the artist wanted to practice the bourgeois salon and overturn the avant-garde routine, is one of the most provocative pieces of contemporary art of this autumn: The wondrous wallpapers created by Klaus vom Bruch in 2013.

It is as though they themselves are screaming down from the walls: "What do I want to be?" – all the while evoking Klaus vom Bruch's earliest video works from the 1970s, with which he brought the limits of good taste to the melting point through unvarying powerhouse repetition. A motif positions itself, perpetuates, abrades meaning and establishes new meaning, incessantly with the exact same image, the exact same sound. Secret of the loop. That which happens in a temporal sequence in a video occurs with the repetitious pattern of the wallpaper within space in order to cover the walls, to fill out the horror vacui of the white cube, and to appear to be designed with taste. Yet within the wallpaper's motifs, images vary which are not comfy and cosy at all.

Where once the historic wallpaper served the desire for Arcadia as an illusionary refuge in the ever-blooming garden, it represents here a journey into West Germany's past. To the political Achilles' heel, to the RAF and their well-known likenesses. The terrorists of their day, who have since either shrunk into pop heroes or been transported to museal incunabulum, appear like an epiphany in the bodies of the dreamy medusas swimming along on the walls. Yet their reproduction does not reveal a portrait, but rather shows their endlessly duplicated, once ubiquitous mug shots. They are the sought-after. They are the danger.

Two larger than life-sized portrait photographs from Winfried Bullinger's African nomad series are hung, in the manner planned together by the artists, on Klaus vom Bruch's wallpaper. Enlarged as Baryta prints and placed in valuable frames, the photographs form a contrast in a technical-reproductive sense to the wallpaper provided by the metre, yet they follow an equally conventional logic of representation. A framed picture in lovely surroundings and stately surroundings for a valuable picture. They want to catch the eye in a pleasant manner and hoodwink the viewer. They reveal themselves in relation to the political context of the other one and purposefully slip themselves into it.

The photographs are highly factual studies of a rare encounter. Winfried Bullinger took the images with a large-format camera in the unvisited, inhospitable and embattled border regions of Central Africa. The faces and bodies with their martial decorative scars are not those of warriors; they rather show people living a life full of danger occurring far removed from our awareness and even further removed from our ideals of a civil society. There is already an imaginary image blurred within us, in our medial visual memory, as the suffering hungry, the inhumane butchers, the raw barbarians or the intruders washed-ashore – but not as individuals like here. Their expression is completely resolute, confrontational and self-confident, yet detached from the staging of evil. We are looking at an unseen life full of apparently inhuman rules which intersect with ours, where the exploitive civilisation in the so-called first world expresses its thanks for stolen water with refrigerators.

That which Klaus vom Bruch and Winfried Bullinger are pursuing here is a play on a bourgeois aesthetic of art as decoration, and within this action they intermingle the inherent yearning for the unfamiliar and utopian. The intended provocation is not to be found in the mutual evaluation of the political struggle, for instance, but rather in the conflict which the viewers must resolve with the ideas and imagination that they have brought with them. They may pose the question which emerges in the context of both pieces: "How do we consume the criticism which is directed at ourselves?"

While studying painting at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK), Winfried Bullinger spent a year in South Africa between 1987 and 1988. What he experienced there during the last days of the apartheid regime left a deep impact on him. Since then, the artist rather than theoretically has truly witnessed and experienced in the field the lives of tribes leading a nomadic existence. For him these men and women are exemplary for those on the often-imposed threshold to the so-called process of civilisation. Following in the tradition of New Objectivity, he has named August Sander as an influencing force on his own development. However the concept for this series is an independent one which has arisen and been developed in an unobtrusive, concealed manner over many years. It was an exhibition by Sassa Trülzsch which first brought the pictures to a public audience, and since then they have gained international recognition to an ever-increasing extent. Huang Du selected Bullinger's works for his curated exhibition “Image Anxiety“ in the Foundation Telefónica in the framework of the latest PhotoEspana. In Berlin Christoph Tannert recently placed the Nomad portraits on display in the Künstlerhaus Bethanien.

Following his studies at the California Institute of the Arts, Klaus vom Bruch, whose visual ideas were influenced by the Neue Musik scene, returned to the Rhineland of the 1970s where the seeds of the electronic technology of visual design fell on fertile ground. At that time, the public broadcaster WDR's Studio for Electronic Music in Cologne was regarded as the epicentre of the latest trends in Europe then being created by international artists such as Nam June Paik and John Cage. Quite in the spirit of the former free West, a new generation supported by influential and independent institutions developed here. They dealed with the electronic image and and analysed it, as well as with television and new distribution strategies. With his first video tapes, Klaus vom Bruch already entered the consciousness of the new history of art, which strives art as a source of communication rather than to be based on artwork ownership. Sassa Trülzsch

Tags: Klaus vom Bruch, John Cage, Nam June Paik, August Sander, Christoph Tannert, Christoph Tannert