Galerie koal is delighted to announce that beginning on January 13, we will be presenting the second solo show by the artist Arne Schreiber. On view in the exhibition "Zwei" (Two) will be a temporary wall drawing entitled #284WZ, a work consisting of two surfaces, each measuring 2.30m x 8.5m, which was conceptualized especially for this exhibition space and has a total length of 17m.
In Arne Schreiber's artistic practice, specified activities within defined areas converge with the incalculable, the contingent, and the individual. His pictures arise not from expressive gestures, but instead through the application and confrontation of various systems, through processes of repetition, and through the deviations which result. Graph paper and modular picture supports serve as referential spaces within which even the tiniest variants within the overall structure become visible. For the exhibition "Zwei" at Galerie koal, Schreiber uses the exhibition space as a reference on whose basis he develops a wall drawing consisting of two surfaces which take up the space as their medium.
By being opened up ca 1m below the old ceiling of the former main post office, the gallery's exhibition space - which resembles an almost hermetic white cube - presents itself as a windowless space capsule inside of an architectural envelope. Like an arena, the neutral space deflects attention away from itself, offering virtually no conceivable approach to it. The continuum of this smooth, white-painted spatial container is interrupted only by a single incision in the left-hand third of the front wall, which allows visitors entry, as well as by the two doors which have been set into the ends of the same wall.
Schreiber exploits this sole violation of this spatial geometry as his point of departure. Drawn by hand using ink markers and ruler beginning from this incision are vertical lines whose height corresponds to the proportions of a human being, and which terminate 30 cm above the floor. This procedure of inscribing lines is repeated as often as allowed by the surface between the entry and the right-hand corner of the room. Resulting from this procedure is a wall surface that is 'marked' in a double sense, and which is then, in a second step, mirrored onto the opposite wall at a 90° angle to a diagonal across the space of the room. While the original surface is determined and framed by the space, its mirror image now seems to appear freely on the wall, i.e. without encountering preestablished boundaries. Despite the absence of the spatial references which shape the first surface, the second one too is dependent upon the principle of the mirroring of the specific proportions and dimensions of the exhibition space.
Within the mirrored surface as well, the procedure of inscribing lines is repeated. As with the first surface, the resultant linear field is characterized - despite the apparent regularity of its execution - by the presence of visible imperfections. Generated during the process of drawing by hand, these are intentional, deliberate, yet at the same time in no sense calculated. The texture and workmanship of the wall surface, for example, is reflected in the final drawing. Irregularities and shadows of soiling from earlier pictures or hangings - the combined traces and scars of previous utilizations - allow for another intervention of the exhibition space into the art. Once again, these emerge as a protagonist at least on equal terms with the artist himself. And even though the inscribing hand, with its necessarily varying position, is also responsible for deviations with regard to the thickness of the lines and the intervals which separate them, the result is a lack of definition which creates a degree of uncertainty about secure artistic authorship. Standing before Schreiber's wall drawing, it proves difficult to distinguish clearly between the various media - the wall surface, the space and its mirroring, the markers, the ruler, the executant, and the actual effects of the media - in the overall appearance of the work. Who or what is responsible for the each detail, and how does he (or it) participate in their interplay?
In its restriction to the repetition and execution of a predetermined process, the role of the artist here appears to approach the postmodernist conception of the "scripteur" as conceptualized by Roland Barthes in his essay "The Death of the Author" ["La mort de l'auteur"] (1968). As a "scribe," the artist is now simply the initiator of a "tissue of quotations," and does not himself emerge in the text as a person - his hand now inscribes, "cut off from any voice, borne by a pure gesture of inscription (and not of expression)." Just as Barthes, finally, regards the death of the author as signaling the birth of the reader, Schreiber's wall drawing inaugurates an open-ended field of reflection for viewers which invites them to exchange the search for meaning for participation in the interplay of the media.
Arne Schreiber analyses conditions and concepts of painting by arranging his picture objects like empirical experiments. In order for a scientific test to accorded validity, the conditions under which it was carried out must be universally verifiable. In Schreiber's experimental set-up, painting is concentrated to a syntax of black lines on white background - a structure which has no discernible beginning or end. The plane itself consists of several standardised wooden panels and presents a grid structure which indicates even the smallest change as it acts like a frame of reference.
For despite the process of strict repetition of a technical paint application under a well-defined set of conditions, no line can precisely match another - among other reasons because the drying of the paint already sets in during the process of application. Mistakes or, more accurately, deviations and discrepancies are thus part of the nature of the exercise. The reference frame of the grainy picture surface renders this palpable, all the more so when the sequence of wood-panels within the frame is altered in the next step of the process. The interruptions and displacements of the painted reveal the individual character of each line. While in the beginning it is "only" structure emerging, every change of the panel arrangements generates new images.
In doing so, Schreiber raises the questions about the conditions of a painting and its material manifestation, its coalescing into an object, and tracing the approaches of a conceptual tradition at the same time. While the medium of painting is usually linked to the idea of uniqueness, Schreiber's practice is characterised by a moment of seriality which derives from mechanical repetition and the use of standardised materials.
The image objects in the main room are accompanied by a series of nine extra drawings on graph paper which can be read as a reflection. Here, too, all works are interconnected by an identical production process. The perfectly printed lines of the graph paper are traced with ink pen and ruler. The comparing view turns each line and each drawing into a single autonomous object which at the same time acts as index, origin and result for the others.