Faux Amis at Projektraum145 / Berlin

Faux Amis

with Romain Blanck, Giulia Siviero and Marvin Ketteniß.

April 16 – April 26, 2021

Invalidenstraße 145
10115 Berlin

Leonie sits in the study in front of a white triangle in a dark grey circle, then the drawing of the lecture starts in the middle of the lecture. The audience is surely aware that painting has always had to deal with the imitation of reality. For a long time, paintings and drawings were the only way to make a perceived reality comprehensible to other people. When a language of words and writing finally developed, it would have become the function of painting to produce a representation of reality that was as impressive as possible, summarised under the respective fashionable aesthetic points of view, which was particularly influenced by power-political interests. In the modern age, with the emergence of photography as a more suitable medium of reproduction and the shift from patronage art to bourgeois-free art, there would then have been a brief mutation of this representational function towards the reflection of reality, as in Romanticism and Naturalism, for example, or towards the reflection of perception, as in Pointilism, the non-mannerist versions of Impressionism and Cubism, among others. Leonie sits up straight.
Jakob pauses the video, puts the phone aside and rolls his eyes. He thinks for a moment, lies back comfortably on the couch in the shared kitchen and then starts the lecture again. With the attempt to eliminate the concepts of the genius and the author, this mutation would have gained in importance once again, but the post-war period and the following late modernity would again be characterised by patronage and power-politically shaped, aesthetic representations of perceived realities of particular peer groups. Contemporary painting, following the title of the lecture “Return to Postfeudal Art”, would retreat to pre-modern representational schemes. What would be interesting in this continuation of function would be a shift towards the indexical inscription of qualified labour. Paintings would no longer be distinguished by how well they imitate weeping and whether birds are attracted to them, but by how well one can read from them a reflective approach to the social value of labour power. Imitation, imitation, pretence of reality as well as its refraction and ironisation would first and foremost take place on this level, not – Jakob switches to a video diary from the south coast of Patagonia, sma- rag green parakeets fly around in flocks and satisfy his wanderlust, at least in part.
Then a bang jolted Laura out of her daydream. A small bird had flown into the large window, the silhouettes of birds of prey stuck on it had probably not deceived it. The animal staggered dazedly for a moment, caught itself, was gone again. Unimpressed, Laura reached for her mobile phone; her friends’ chat group, which was mainly about artificial intelligence, gaming and the philosophy of perception, was reporting a new message. Lynn looked at her anxiously from across the room. In the beginning everything was fresh and interesting, now they lived next to each other, two different lives in one city, in the same study, here in the same refectory, afterwards in the same flat. There was the fear of finding themselves in a relationship with a self-made copy of the relationship partner, the fear of being disappointed by reality. On their first date, they had watched Matrix – red pill, blue pill -and joked about how naively their fellow students handled concepts of reality. They should all have realised by now that reality is a construction in one’s own brain. But now, for weeks, Lynn had been feeling in the morning like Neo, who had just been flushed out of the Matrix, when this other Laura was still lying in the same bed and breathing to herself. Laura didn’t notice any of this. The article she had just received declined augmented reality and virtual reality and their possibilities in comparison to historical ecaped realities, i.e. tribe knowledge, superstitions and religions. She was looking forward to reading the article later in peace and quiet, pushing away the rest of the Mensa mushroom risotto, which was neither convincing in texture, colour nor taste, slightly disgusted. This slushy meal reminded her first of the fantasy meal in Hook, then of the rebel food in Matrix. She stroked Lynn’s hand with a brief smile.

By contrast, the last time Lynn visited her grandma’s house, it smelled like good food, of course, mixed with the smell of an apartment that had been inhabited for more than 50 years. Grandma had gotten old, there was no denying that. By last summer, Lynn had replaced all the plants with plastic ones. Grandma continued to water her plants. Not only did it look more real that way, it felt more real to her. Lynn only had to occasionally change the water when it got too stale. Suddenly, Lynn was shocked by the thought that soon only a few memories would be left of all this. That was the first clear thought outside of Painting that day. Before that, the focus was only on the studio work and the uncertainty of what would become of the exhibition that was planned with paintings that were unavailable because of the lockdown in France and Germany. Should Lynn paint them again? Make copies of one’s own work in the new studio? Lynn’s gaze dropped to the familiar pillow on Grandma’s sofa, embroidered with a small landscape motif and with the words “Die Sonne, die Berge und ein Paar Nagelschuhe” in Gothic script. Finding frugal dreams seemed to be the more pleasant work in consideration of the just decided, upcoming lengthy copying process. “Fleeing reality into a pictorial pillow,” Lynn thought, continuing to look at the pillow and repeatedly asking herself the classic question: where does an image come from, and what does it do to my perception, my reality?
The question of where textual meaning emerges – in the author, in the reader, or in the text itself – is constantly questioned and debated in the literature. What is being told here by whom and how? The text has an adequate relationship to reality, no one expects an illusion here anymore. Unfortunately, paintings on the other hand are still often in the dilemma of having to explain their own relationship to reality. With “Faux Amis” Romain Blanck, Marvin Ketteniß, and Giulia Siviero show how they deal with the current problems of relating to reality, imitation, and reproduction of realities and images.
Text by Johannes Listewnik