Sculpture would be the embodiment of places. Places, in preserving and opening regions, hold something free gathered around them which grants the tarrying of things under consideration and a dwelling far man in the midst of things.
Here is the philosophical model that prefigures the possibility of creating a place of art not limited to traditional genres, and not exclusively related to painting, sculpture, drawing or architecture. For Susanne Kessler the work of art is not the fruit of a transgression or of an engagement with different means of expressions, it consists in the creation of a new aesthetic space that goes beyond individual expression. Richard Wagner’s influences could be felt in all creative experiences of the historical and neo- avant-garde movements of the post war period – in the search for an art that would bring together a palette of different modes of expression to achieve a grand effect through the reciprocity of influences. It is this wish of omnipotence that, ever since the last decades of the 19th century, pervades the creative development of art. This form of expression applies to the confrontation between art and life, with life viewed as various and multivalent, and art relied upon it to manifest the manifold relationships among the different genres. In the work of the German artist, art has become a kind of buffer against the inertia of the existing; or, at least, it sets up an inner border that can be circumscribed within real space and time.
While the conventional art experience achieves a metaphorical time and space, and also represents a periplus into fantasy, the attainment of a place or site makes possible a creation in which all forms of expression work together and only momentarily replace the relationship to everyday reality. In some ways, art possesses the possibility of transposing life as it is into an experience incapable of articulation. The work of art draws here a circular frontier within which real relationships and reallocations are performed. These reallocations refer to the psychic and sensorial experiences of the artist and of the Viewer, who moves into this flexible area reacting to the complicated signs created by the artist. The law of complexity becomes an element accompanying the formation of a work of art – one for which reality does not suffice – and on the level of a resemblance-seeking figurativeness which, through conflicting and challenging juxtapositions, brings forth surprising and wondrous works. The epoch-making avant-garde dating from before and after World War Two has internalized such attempts in order to introduce a further theme: the construction of the work of art.
To build a modern construction it is imperative for the artist to enter into a relationship with technology. It is technology’s task to create something extra, something that exceeds what it commonly does. Technology used in the work of art becomes a means to attain a contemplative goal, by providing the opportunity to build a new and different kind of relationship to the world’s diversity. The principle of frontal communication with the work of art is abandoned, since it alone is based on a rational dialogue suggestive of an exchange with very different results.
On the other hand there is in art the problem of time. Time, understood as acceleration and speed, makes the peaceful meditation of the spiritual eye virtually impossible. To make technology an instrument is a necessity for Susanne Kessler. By creating a complex body of art, she introduces a ‘healthy’ de-concentration of individual elements that occupy the Viewer at various levels. Thus her oeuvres become a source of inspiration and of stimuli of different kinds that penetrate the domain of the unconscious impulses. To represent the wordless is the artist’s compulsive trait, favoured by the development of a Contemporary Art that has rejected artistic moralizing and exchanged it for an adjacent, healthier attitude to morality characterized by a vital dis-inhibition. The totality of this view finds its basis in the totality of the application of technology, which is in a work capable of giving expression to a comprehensive theme in an original manner on many levels. Only in this way, through the use of technology, can Contemporary Art adequately represent complex and comprehensive relationships. Romanticism, Symbolism and Surrealism succeeded in creating a “total art” through their desire to undo or deconstruct representation. Similarly, we see today a shift towards a complexity in art that is open to the future because of necessities that do not allow themselves be bullied by technology, both rather employ technology with a post- industrial maturity.
Therefore, today’s totally uninhibited artists, conscious of art’s non linear development, have adopted a method that does not consist in the integration of different genres within the complexity of an artistic creation in a compact work, but rather a work can be dissolved by means of an act of dissemination. This approach becomes a rule accompanied by the work’s diverse origins linked together through necessity in a way that is neither simple nor clean, but of necessity divisive and transgressive, thus to merge into the attainment of an aesthetic and fateful process of awareness. Environmental art widened the overreaching experiences of the classical avant-garde even further, bound as it was to creating spaces and places in which nothing happened beyond the flaunting of the processes of image-finding. It was the difficult analysis of North American origin with oriental features which brought a yearning for emptiness to expression. Today, however, there exists a striving for recognition in reverse, so that the task of representation becomes overwhelmed by this predilection for representation, formal transfiguration, and a depletion of content and means of expression. Not only does the awareness process developed through the work of art have to do with a technologically complex situation, but also with inner impulses and needs belonging to a special perception of the world. The maturity of the artist consists precisely in developing a System of forms with irreconcilable elements assigned to them. Maturity shows itself in its ability to express integration through the apparent competition within the complexity of the technical universe. The act of throwing together diverse elements has shown the possibility of competing in a world where everything seems to have its suitable structures.
Today’s artists are on a different wave length, based on a work that does not try to mask differences, but rather make space for it in the overall problem of creating a process which requires the affiliation to different stylistic approaches and a variety of different treatments. This is precisely what demonstrates the maturity of Susanne Kessler’s art – its need of a wide- range of technical review, and at the same time of a mentality that does not believe in the integration of art and life, but in the possibility of creating a work of art consisting of fractures and spaces swinging back and forth between development and already existing forms of life. In this way the work of the “dwelling place”, of which Heidegger spoke, manifests itself, rather than in the dose up frontal view of an “old sculpture”. It is the replacement field for an artistic language capable of constructing a true dwelling where it is easy to float and to breathe. To match a dwelling place to a human being, to live in the midst of things, means that one is not monolithic but can move irregularly and flexibly along wafer-thin relative coordinates between points that exist in an asymmetric relationship to each other in a sort of happy spatial aphasia.
Land Art suggested big projects of places of organic homogeneity that included the complete incorporation of details and character. It was maintained by an absolute utopian principio. Such absoluteness meant the elimination of all randomness, with a strong tendency to sweep away geometry. The result was a dead space with no room to breathe. Kessler makes possible a dwelling that is a place for wide-ranging networks of relationships open to diverse confluences of styles, materials and possibilities of expression. This approach opens multiple regions of transition and interstices where a vital, unbounded distance reigns over the variety of things. This spatial and temporal aphasia results in the physical distancing of the elements and in the subjective experience of the Viewer. The distance grows in proportion to the variety of formal Solutions, whose expression does not translate into a homogeneous situation, but rather leaves it unsmoothed.
The abstract and figural decisions, the graphic and figural Solutions, and the inner and outer structures are brought together and embraced by an architecture permeated by an art that structures itself, hosts it all and brings it to a complete entity.
A sculpture asks forgiveness, for it occupies the public and private space. Consequently, it finds itself isolated and rigid as well as in opposition to the surrounding context. By contrast, Kessler is an artist who humanizes sculpture. She opens up the space by giving movement to sculpture, adding to it the dimension of time, the idea of metamorphosis and change, of floating, transparency and lightness. In the process, sculpture loses gravity’s weight and intentionally and progressively abandons its roots, gaining the ability to fly.
For Susanne Kessler, dis-inhibition signifies the possibility of a free flow into a space liberated from intellectual, programmatic and geometric knots. It is the lust to choose this freedom in the hedonism of the “Nomad Project”, and to unite in the need to communicate abstract and concrete structures in the form of an unadorned message.
If there is a word that best characterizes Kessler’s work, it is “Capriccio”. In visual arts as in music “Capriccio” stands for maximum freedom. In Kessler’s work “Capriccio” makes possible a maximum expansion and concentration: an extremely intense relationship to the world, not just to noise, but also to stillness. Hence a connection which includes the idea of the end.
Text for the book Susanne Kessler – Framing Space, for the solo exhibition in the American University Museum / Katzen Art Center, Washington, DC, 2015