Felix Kiessling “Tür und Stern” at Alexander Levy, Berlin
Space as a superordinate concept, as the reificated subjective perception of size, as something limited and at the same time limiting, is a central point of reference and object of investigation in the works of Felix Kiessling. Likewise, a quest to transcend the space in its material and mental relationships and its boundaries can often be recognised. And yet, Kiessling confirms and defines the space with each of these attempts to transcend it. However, in this way he enables us to become consciously aware of the conditionality of space. Space has no inherently specific dimension. It must experience limitations in order that it can be perceived and described a space at all. The fact that these limitations are not natural ones but have instead been artificially created, can be experienced in Kiessling’s works.
In the central work Superstern of the exhibition Tür und Stern (Door and Star) six vectors cut through the gallery space as if they start at the zero point of a coordinate system. By reducing the materials used for this work to simple, untreated aluminium, Kiessling seeks to direct the focus towards the vectors as a spatial dimension that has been made visible in order to reify something materially that is inherently immaterial. Vectors are always relative to a specified frame of reference, a system of coordinates. In terms of this characteristic they resemble the space, which is defined using flexible yet defined reference parameters and relations. This defined space, its finiteness in contrast to infiniteness, which is difficult to conceive and impossible to experience, is descriptively illustrated both in the vector star and in the photographs of the Vektoren, which cut through the globe. These vectors penetrate and conquer visible and imaginary boundaries or those perceived to be natural. The aluminium vectors in the gallery break through the walls and ceilings, they cut through the space, transgress the artificially created boundaries and in this way indirectly point to their own inherently infinite nature.
The concept of a vector, the feeling that it marks the space as a line that points along a given direction, can also be experienced in Kiessling’s works. When he connects two places, for example Berlin and St. Petersburg, with a single, continuous vector, the ends of which each extend up out of the earth, he questions the scale and the coherent perspectives related to it. The photographs of these vectors take the play with spatial dimensions to its extreme when they deny the viewer the usual points of reference within a space. It is not the horizon, not an above and below in relationship to gravity that determines the section and angle of the image but the vector itself. By always photographing these parallel to the edge of the picture, as perpendicular or horizontal elements, Kiessling defies any orientation within the picture that usually leads to the identification of a motif. At the same time, he emphasises the structure of our visual perception, our perception of our environment and the categorisation of and orientation within the space as something flexible and construed.
The doors (Türen und Vektor) that dominate the rear gallery space form a contrast to the analytical gesture of the front area of the gallery, which has been reduced to the vectors, and at the same time provide access to the conceptual parameters of the exhibition and the interest of the artist. The issue of the scale or rather: the issue of spatial limitations that are artificially generated in order to make the world tangible, negotiable and utilisable can be explored by perceiving the door as a metaphorical object. Their size is defined depending on the operating site and according to the purpose. The door itself serves to provide access to specifically defined spaces – or as a divisive and exclusive element. In this way, a door can be both a connecting and a sealing element between spaces that are defined by their usefulness (however, it can also be considered arbitrary from a superordinate, finite perspective). These doors, alienated from their original purpose by their positioning within the space rather than between the spaces, are charged with history – all of them originating from old houses and brought to the gallery space by Kiessling – their inherent and almost tangible aura of time inevitably leads back to the question of finiteness and infinity.
The preoccupation of the artist with these categories, with the fact that time and space can be measurable, can be perceived as the most haunting aspect of Planet Maxitmur 120. A solid object, 12 cm in diameter, cast in such a way that it is able to defy the influences and impact of the atmosphere, is brought into the earth’s orbit. Its flight path is calculated so precisely that the possibility of it ever colliding with another body is almost excluded altogether. The sense and the desire for infinity is illustrated here in a striking manner. This is also demonstrated in a wall painting that shows the path of the planets in our solar system, true to scale. A further scope of action provided by the space becomes evident here: the virtually archaic act of occupation. An accessible space is also potentially an occupied space. Now that even the places of the earth that are furthest afield have become accessible to almost everyone, even the universe has moved closer and space travel is no longer limited to the professional context of the nations that engage in space travel, usually for research purposes. Space travel tourism has also changed the accessibility of these previously inconceivable spheres from a mere utopia to a real possibility due to privately-financed astronautic projects. Citing a gesture of occupation in this space by placing an infinitely circling work of art in the universe, which in its infinite aspect we can scarcely conceive of, is despite its seemingly utopian aspect in fact only a consistent continuation of the exploration of space, time and transcendental utopias in Kiessling’s works.
until July 14, 2012