In the work of Susanne Kessler there is a constant that makes line the basic feature of drawing in space. Her compelling set of intensely compressed threads, e.g., plastic netting held together with adhesive tape, wire and metal frames, questions anew the understanding of line and image media in art. The audience’s attention becomes gradually sensitized inside each cluster, and contrary to the attractiveness of the exhibition space pulled into the emotional and spiritual mobilization of society’s substructure. The rapid entanglements suck the viewer into such expanding installations as “Europa“, “All frontiers of this earth“, “Jerusalem“ and “Mappa Mundi“. At the same time the eye is distracted and repelled by society’s need for craving for pleasure. Nothing happens in Susanne Kessler’s art without resistance. In every part of her work one senses the forces of structural cohesion and adhesion, no less than the beauty of what is being depicted: a kind of ceasefire within an eternal battle of rivals. The change in the basic conditions of drawing, i.e., the tendency towards spatialization, goes hand in hand with the clearing away of the undergrowth in political approaches.

From the end of the Cold War to the advent of globalization, the Eurocentric perspective became less of a trend, but it was to observe that Western art thought its way into a new chaos. There was a critical and playful mixing of reality and fiction. Works of art offer an imaginary geography that encourages real-utopian attempts for a new cultural re-mapping. All of it takes place under the sign of an aggressive global militarism, a global terror alarm, a media-machine reaching into every living room, illustrating a state of a continuous emergency.

Susanne Kessler sees the warlike interventions and occupations as a loss of value in a world that apparently has lost his orientation and therefore uses her means to subject the maps of the world to a questioning that can only be a finely dimensioned open discourse. For her artistic mapping, the artist has found highly individual modes.

Susanne Kessler has been working with maps since 2011. Her first large-scale attempt to link history and projection, past, present and future was first visualised in 2015 in the installation “Jerusalem“. Here she pleads for a prejudice-free space and thought that for the time being, has nothing to do with geopolitical reality and the principals of political superposition and is not fixed on the status quo. On the contrary, hers is an artistic play of line in a vacuum between a heavenly Jerusalem and an infinite number of “knots“ representing traditional and untraditional connections, cultural and intellectual overlaps. It is capricious image of comings and goings, farewells and arrivals that are not definitive, but rather subject to moments of magic and mood. The work acquires concreteness by representing a space of possibility in opposition to the circumstances.

Inventing lines according to aesthetic criteria is Kessler’s specialty. Her “Mappa Mundi“ (2018) shows demarcation lines and the dispersal of boundaries in a crush of lines that distance the heart and mind in order to create a construct that is free of attachments. It is in this conscious tangle that borders lose their meaning. Each of these cartographies is of course a counter-model to scientific and political agreements. In this respect they are both beautiful and provocative. But it is the personal, the weird, the not-yet-named contradiction of enriching cultural experiences emphasizing cultural distances that constitute the artist’s ongoing need.

Susanne Kessler does homeland outreach that focuses on interaction instead of demarcation.


Text of Catalogue „About Roots and Borders”, Conseil de l’Europe, Strasbourg, editor Art in Flow Berlin, 2020