Magazine article Artforum International

Philipp Lachenmann: Galerie Andreas Binder

Magazine article Artforum International

Philipp Lachenmann: Galerie Andreas Binder

Article excerpt

The eye is not the only organ that determines what we see. Our acquired knowledge plays a role, as do our experiences, which are stored in our brains as memories. In this sense the cherished saying of the art historians is true: We see only what we know. Philipp Lachenmann studied art history, wrote his master's thesis on the function of the erotic in the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, and even now remains in a certain sense true to the questions of the art historian: What does this image tell us? Why does it tell this and not something else?

In an exhibition here two years ago Lachenmann conducted an experiment: He showed photographs, for instance of a cemetery or a tiger, but that was only part of his presentation. The artist himself was present during regular gallery hours to explain to visitors that they were looking at the cemetery where Karl Marx lies buried or at the last photo of the last Tasmanian tiger before it went extinct--and already the images looked different. What do I need to know, then, to make images speak? Or, put another way, how do I turn my knowledge into images? In conjunction with that exhibition, Lachenmann showed, right before the premiere of the Hollywood blockbuster The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, his version, Preview, 2002. A friend of his who had read J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy in his youth during a long illness tells the story from memory. The film shows only its narrator; any other images are merely in the mind of the observer.

Subsequently, Lachenmann spent several months in Los Angeles as a fellow of the Villa Aurora. Here, again, he pursued images--this time the ones that the European observer has in mind when he or she thinks of Los Angeles: sun, blue skies, surfers riding the waves, and Hollywood with its action-packed films. …

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