Speech at the opening of Shoshanah Ciechanowski at Galerie Tammen, Berlin, 05.04.2013 |
by Christoph Tannert's
The present day world is characterized by a mixture of frustration and excitement. Everything is
supposed to be growing, becoming faster, to always be available. Time for the essentials
evaporates in the steam of an overheated, late capitalism that has lost sight of both humanity and
An exhibition like the one we can see here today comes at the right time. Calm is possible if we
look to the existential. The fundamental sculptural gesture of this exhibition is an invitation to do so.
In her concept "Tempus" Shoshanah Ciechanowski asks about the relation between time and
duration, about the moment and its fading. About happiness! But time does not stand still. Even
eternity consists of moments.
"And quickly! When, to the moment then, I say: ‘Ah, stay a while! You are so lovely!’" as Goethe
has his Faust say. How pointless. Everything is transient. Art as well.
We are, so to speak, permanently surrounded by quite normal catastrophes. As many people think,
I guess we’ll survive. (I’m glad you are so cheerful.)
"The moment is that ambiguity in which time and eternity touch each other," we read in the work of
Shoshanah Ciechanowski holds back from documenting the misery of the present; she conducts
research – and this is about the here and now in the sense of a specific sequence of now –
between the future and the past. In this way, the moment becomes the beginning and the end
simultaneously and fits into the circle of time as merely one point in the infinite continuum of
eternity. From the point of this moment we see ourselves – for the bat of an eyelid – in what has
become as well as in our becoming. According to Nietzsche, "the fleeting moment [is] that point of
intersection where the linear course of time reverts into a perpetual recurrence of past and
future." (1) The moment cannot be measured with any measure of time. (2) This is precisely why
the artist attempts to grasp aesthetically just the very tip of the ungraspable.
And if we discover in the process that the moment adopts a position of arbitrariness in the cycle of
eternity, somewhere where it is meaningless to stay a while because we can always be present in
it within the sequence of now, from moment to moment – surely that is not the most tedious of
insights.But the phenomenon of a momentary in-between also concerns Shoshanah Ciechanowski
in a different sense. As the works exhibited here indicate, she is interested in the in-between of an
object and its shadow, for example, of the whole and its parts, the outside and the inside, between
the narrative and the abstract, sculpture and drawing, or between performance and video.
The artist works with wafer thin porcelain figures, which belong in a state between two-
and three dimensionality. She began developing her series "Variation" in 2007, and here she is showing
10 of the total of 20 works in the series to date. We are incapable of establishing clearly the state in
which the figures dwell, something that always lies with the viewer’s relevant cultural conditioning,
of course. Are we looking at a scene of yoga or torture, something with a scientific basis or the stuff
of religious ritual, sport or the military? The question remains open.
And so the artist confronts us with the problem of truth’s relativity in relation to an absolute reality
that we know is not real in the way it appears to be. French author Jacques Jouet once said:
"When I contemplate a landscape, I am no more than a landscape painter who is perhaps being
watched by another landscape painter." This sentence is the expression of extremely quick-witted,
humorous constructivist thinking. The nature of perspective and the content of consciousness, as a
rule, decide on our conceptually and emotionally coloured perceptions and on that which is
regarded as individual reality. Shoshanah Ciechanowski’s works are under the spell of a
metaphysic of the in-between, which she investigates via the natural sciences and the humanities.
And Vassily Kandinsky’s book "On the Spiritual in Art" plays an inspiring part in this.
Gawoll, Hans-Jürgen: Über den Augenblick. Auch eine Philosophiegeschichte von Platon bis
Heidegger. In: Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte, Volume 27/ 1994, pp. 152- 179
Volkmann-Schluck, Karl-Heinz: Die Stufen der Selbstüberwindung des Lebens. Erläuterungen zum
3. Teil von Nietzsches Zarathustra. In: Nietzsche-Studien, Volume 2/1973, pp. 137- 156