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Nicolaus Schafhausen

A Private View of Things

Gunda Förster's artistic enquiry has an unusual aesthetic quality: it is aware of its own subjectivity and yet resists egoism by virtue of the rationality of her methods.
The only way to approach  her work is on an aesthetic level, while her use of the visual vocabulary of public life in fact turns recipient into protagonist.
What interests me in her work is her constant to avoid both the »ideal« and the trite and instead to reveal the contradiction between existing abstract artistic production and pragmatic reality.
In Försters's case the end-product is the result of her own private view of things which in itself has nothing to do with concealment or an over-active imagination.

The series of »Correspondences« exhibitions by the Berlinische Galerie in the Martin Gropius Bau was conceived in 1989 with the political isolation of West Berlin in mind. Nowadays, however, the thinking behind the exhibitions has scaled down to the idea of linking two geographical areas where cultural correspondence will lead to comparative discourse.
But this has given rise to a problem that is occuring with the increasing frequency, in that participating artists are asked to create an autonomous work in some urban context without responding to the immediate context of the exhibition. But is this process not intrinsically invalid in the sense that the notion of an autonomous, self-referential object, reduced to no more than an object, has long since been discared?
Förster solves the problem as follows: unlike in her earlier works, she does not react to the immediate context of situation or the urban dynamics of some space; nor does she try to fit into existing administrative structures and the omnipresent demands of the hegemony of group exhibitions. She quite deliberately uses the places where exhibitions are held—in this case museums—for her own needs, by questioning them with the given context and by, in addition, isolating them.
Gunda Förster sees her work as an open process: a process that is only comprehensive through the resonances set up between artist, work and recipient. For many modernist products of the 90s this is nothing new but it is an idea that rarely fulfils its own promise.

> Förster constructs a virtually square exhibition space as an »unconditional« architectonic situation. She treats the windowless space (only interrupted by two doorways) as precisely what it is: that is to say, a frame.
Four slide projectors are mounted directly under the ceiling, objects that one just has to accept within the confines of this space in view of their technical function. They are then used to project images—shot from a moving car—on the walls, overlapping and thus entirely covering the walls. The rapidity with which one image follows the other creates the impression of a repeating sequence where individual images are less important than the sense of something flowing onwards. It is impossible for viewers to feel like voyeurs although their role within the space would seem to make them into voyeurs by definition.
Finally, it is the public and private levels of Förster's work that interest me, for these take her work on to another emotional level, catching the viewer in the systematic interaction between inside and outside.

translation: Fiona Elliott

Catalogue text
Korrespondenzen | Correspondences
Berlinische Galerie, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 1997
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 1997