Benoit Broisat @ Without a trace, Galerie Jette Rudolph, Berlin
"Nothing, either in the elements or in the system, is anywhere simply present or absent. There are only, everywhere, differences and traces of traces." (Jacques Derrida)
Experiencing reality through the objects that have emerged from it includes situating them in their respective cultural, political, historical, social or individual field. Ideas and knowledge that you bring with you, however, not only determine the way you interact with real things; you also furnish the media visualizations of these objects with these ideas. The truth of photographic or even film images basically depends on the perspective of the individual viewer.
Under the title Without A Trace, the Jette Rudolph Gallery brings together three artistic positions in one group exhibition. These positions destabilize and question the real origin of traces rather than examining the traditional causal relationship between object, or more specifically its image, and the real dimension associated with it. Through photography, video and individual artifacts, the "reality content" of the artistic materials is ascertained and so is their proximity to reality.
Photographs as media-based memories - whose content is experienced as an indication of reality - influence and transmit ideas about the real world. In short, photos produce knowledge. Read as a trace, the photo discloses its connection to the real object and reveals its constructedness as the shadow of something that it is actually not able to represent. In their work, the artists Benoît Broisat, Cyrill Lachauer and Gabriel Rossell Santillán track lost traces of both reality and pictorial realities.
French philosopher Gilles Deleuze proposes pictureless thinking for truth's lack of visual clarity; in other words, a type of thinking that does not presuppose any pictures and that ensues independently of them. Because for Deleuze reality is myth; it is merely "empty" repetition. To overcome media-based, natural, cultural and scientific clarity, the artistic field research - that is conducted in the Deleuzian sense - takes the real, perceived object as its starting point, which in the process of being deconstructed is subject to new formulations or even recoding. Traditional patterns of perception are destabilized, opening the possibility of renegotiating the pictures' objectivity.
With the objet trouvé - the found, everyday object - an item citing reality is incorporated into the artworks, which however as such is deprived of its singular connotation and is itself now in need of interpretation. At the same time, by transferring the media-generated pictures into a network of new meanings, they are divested of their referential power. Rosalind Krauss uses photography as a vehicle to explore the term simulacrum, a semblance of something, which while it is connected to reality did not however emerge from it in a primordial sense. Producing a reality effect, Krauss confirms that through the experience of reality through simulacra, an increasing dissolution of reality takes place for a person's environment. The picture read as trace, whose origin has been lost, promises to dissolve reality into simulacra. The exhibition Without A Trace presents different artistic strategies to question the notion of the real moment as an implied sign and - through various media, virtual pictures and objects - it also aims to conceptualize projection surfaces, which in terms of reality and authenticity disclose the loss of the real object as something that is in fact productive.
French artist Benoît Broisat consciously deals with images and works with photocopies from the onset - media-generated visualizations in a quality that looks more or less real. In his collages and video works, Broisat breaks with using the distinct media as separate entities. Different visual forms and motifs fuse and permeate one another, interweaving various levels of reality, which result in an astounding mosaic of artistic creations.
With his photographic work, Cyrill Lachauer reflects on the cultural and associative fundaments of his motifs and redirects them: signs that are alien to culture stop amounting to anything more than their original meaning; instead, at the same time, they attain new dimensions through cultural transfer. So the Polynesian sign for a safe home coming is re-cultivated as a western sign in tattoo culture where it appears as a swallow. The many ideas provoked this way, which he is able to gather in each individual work and which hold their ground next to one another, do less to uncover a singular, uniquely valid truth than to thematize the production of traces as such. His media pictures become collections of signs, which appear to have given up their interest in the obsolete notion of finding reality, instead privileging a virtual field of possibilities.
By combining new media such as photography and video with materials that take up the exhibition's theme, Gabriel Rossell Santillán uses his installations to analyze the transmission of cultural phenomena. In ethnographic research both in Nayarit (Mexico) and Stuttgart and also in the Ethnological Museum in Berlin-Dahlem, the native Mexican explores the original roots and underlying rituals of his sources. The change in cultural understanding that transpires through de-contextualization opens a free space for the artist, where through an artistic intervention he can compensate for the empty spaces that have emerged and re-construct ritual experience. Situated transculturally, Santillán discards the various discourse patterns for his objects, instead privileging the coexistence of diverse perspectives.
(text: Ellen Maria Martin; translation: Cathy Lara)