Felix Riemann & Samuel Jeffery 12 Feb - 19 March 2016
An excerpt from a conversation with Meret Kaufmann
MK: Samuel, you've moved from the rectangular-container structure to the circular-reflective surface of the mirror. What I put as contrast I see rather as continuation of certain processes in your treating and using surfaces that are not arrested as such. Only at first glance is a climax, or point zero reached: instead of accumulating materials, sanding down, lacquering or priming them to become near-uniform surfaces of box objects, the mirror presents a ready-made surface in absolution – as pure reflection.
The question of traces on the material and imprints of the physical as objects are traded in spaces of production and reception, remains. More insistent becomes the issue of temporality, and a certain historical legacy (personal as well as formal). Collecting mirrors as collecting clocks. Pastimes. Vanitas and vanities of still lives and interiors. A sign of skill of the painter’s hand and eye, traditionally. A reflection on representation and reference always.
Yet your mirrors – produced, collected, exhibited in seriality – to me especially seem to refract certain ideas of 20th century modernism concerning form and function, abstraction and application. Alignments of the domestic unit with rationalised structures of the modern metropolis. Reflections on 'building, dwelling, thinking' that echo in your title, in parentheses, of 'Mirror (Character and Environment)’ in particular.
(Projecting myself into the install shots from your concurrent exhibition ‘Mirrors’ at Marbriers in Geneva, I am at once thrown back into 'The City’, your exhibition which took place at Piper Keys in 2014. Where I felt as if I had stepped into a moment of trafficking forms, vessels - alternately boxes or buildings - along carefully orchestrated axes. Scales and perspectives shifted as I moved through them. Yet to grasp the grid demanded that I abstract myself from it. I felt a bit like an intruder) So the mise-en-abyme of the mirror is not just about self-referentiality, or an infinite dispersal and dissolution in motion and light. The press release from Marbriers discloses the biographies of the mirrors on show and
attends to their material condition. Still, it ultimately bides on the present tense of the exhibition. The specific actualisation and a perpetual over-writing that take place as the the public enters. I am curious about the forms and tenses you seek to capture in London. From your description, I understand that there'll be only one mirror or two, with one being much larger in diameter. Not antiquated, no frame, but a sleek stock model…
SJ: Yes. The mirrors in the London exhibition don't position provenance as frontally as those in the Geneva show did/do (where a range of stylistic differences and respective histories have been offered up for comparison).
These more recent mirror works are, comparatively, lacking in character. They are withdrawn versions; content has somewhat vacated. They present a kind of blank stare and, to me, appear to be a little more blunt in their acknowledgement of the ‘here and now’.
MK: An affirmation that is in fact total denial. A scratch as minus in material would make a plus in script. You subtract signatures as far goes – instead, you add layers that attract ‘auto-imprints’, and be it just the dust that settles in the lacquer on one of your box works…
Felix first extended an invitation to you last summer – a possibility that has been realised in this show is now made public as sketch of what would have been your only collaborative work (a drawing of a bench as the exhibition’s invite/press image). If not materialised in strict sense and solid matter, to me it does tell of those chimeras of time, again, that wind themselves through your two separate bodies of work…
MK: Felix. The A’s and O’s as most blaring and elementary vowels of the refrain of one of your texts have become building blocks for chains and grids suspended in space. In time, new words emerge in the patterns. ‘persistence’, ‘regret’, ‘days a week’. Allusions to a process and potential yet unrealised or exhausted ?
FR: Exactly. I wanted the works to describe a delay- something that remains about to be formulated. The words and letters just provide enough to understand them as part of a sentimental narrative, or of a lament. No bigger picture. I thought that way the works could ask for some degree of participation - like an invitation to fill the gaps, or to sing along.
MK: I try retrace on where the work might begin. A sound presses against the forehead. Closes in on the throat. The screen is blinding, yet it is re-assuring to keep the keyboard rattling even as thoughts falter. No one will have known whats been written, if anything at all. I often feel self-conscious of the fact that I try find new onomatopoetic words to describe a feeling or make an exclamation in an email. The time it takes and the effect betray each other. But I missed joining in on the emojis. Not that I mind them, not at all..
Your work seems to consciously play on that feeling of inappropriateness, redundancy - vulgarity, even? - in attempting to directly translate. Shifting in moods that sound sketchy, all the more when spelled out. Still there is the hope that upon a second reading or a persistent viewing, an object may be returned and revealed.
FR: I guess whats quite vulgar is making that direct connection; describing despair as something melodramatic- like the works are insisting there is no gap between sentiment and genre.
MK: But you really dwell on that as process, at times painful of rendering concrete. Stretch it, skirt it, skip a step. Finally let it go, in all awkwardness.All things said resound in your standing sculpture. You mentioned you wanted to make one almost ‘offensively illustrative’. You drew loosely on a comic face from ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’, I can’t help but see a caterpillar also - not sow ure whether it is hatching out of or retreating into its armour made of foam.
FR: I thought a portray of Thomas The Tank Engine, an engine and thinking being, could promote a certain sincerity. Yes, something mutating and retrograding- agreeing that its next form won’t be ideal either.
MK: Not far from Samuel’s mirrors. The object itself remains self content in its round face as the world around gets agitated in anticipation.
I stop, having spoken long about the awareness of making something literal and concrete, and directions pointing two ways