»For there is no part that doesn´t see you. You must change your life.«
Let´s forgo content and vamoose to paradise ...
large – walkable – circumambulatory – expansive – intensive use of material – residing in the material – non-figurative – minus
pedestal – field-like – linear – two-dimensional – vertical – multi-part – folded – two-sided
Martin Pfeifle´s works are cuts into space. Although they always relate to their location and are built »in situ«, his settings exist nevertheless as self-referential sculptures. No sooner has this discovery been articulated than the newly-erected or quoted three-dimensionality flattens out into an apparently two-dimensional surface as one walks around it, taking on the appearance of a site-specific painting. Even here, the paintings don´t stop for a breather, but layer themselves sandwich-like in a dialogue with other works by other colleagues and thus become accessible realms of discourse. Having said that, none of the neighbouring works relinquish their identity as a result, but rather the sum of the parts forms something greater, throwing the observer back upon his/her own devices. It is the position that the observers adopt, which permits the substance of Pfeifle´s spatial annexations to emerge and reemerge, at the same time, exemplifying the very impossibility of encompassing it »at one glance«, to take it in as a whole. Pfeifle´s settings are glimpsed piece for piece and little by little. From this perspective, the relationship of the section one is viewing to the residual space is always larger than the relationship of the viewed section to the rest of the piece. Spacial dedications eventuate, which then merge the artistic lay-out with the surrounding host space in the sense of a reciprocal dynamization. In this way the observer experiences himself as part of a group of co-observers, but at the same time, is aware of his own unique, personal co-creation of the respective spatial images. This interpenetration of the anonymous observer´s individual space occurs without any didactic or explanatory intention;
there isn´t supposed to be any content or message transmitted by the artistic setting.
Let´s forgo content and vamoose to paradise ...
It is all about the synchronicity of the asynchronous here – the challenging respect of risking a discovering glance and extrapolating from that very discovery to change the thing you see or in turn, even to find oneself changed by it. This is where Rilke´s phrase bites in earnest, having allowed his lyrical ego free rein in the contemplation of an object in his »Archaic Torso of Apollo« (1908): »For there is
no part that doesn´t see you. You must change your life.« Enraptured, he approaches his friend Rodin´s statue and pens the phrase in congenial manner, a sentiment which now becomes relevant in a different context: the artwork, which is not only observed and exposed to that observation, but looks out into the world itself and elicits the world´s stare in return; when transferred here to Pfeifle´s work and today´s discourse, it reveals the themes of a demanded and relinquished authorship, the boundaries of the Possible and creative observation and the individualistic, auratic form of the art work in the age of its democratic availability and disintegration into the
everyday world. That which is seemingly impossible to reconcile becomes a dialectical inspiration for Pfeifle and his host of consorts.
Where Pfeifle is concerned, the appropriation of the world and concomitant formulation in his work occurs with the aid of geometric fragmentation. He breaks down the things he sees as well as the things he constructs into smaller elements – their form articulating always an aesthetic invention possessing ornamental presence and yet retaining more than an instance of functionality.
Similar to a geometric folding, surfaces conjoin to create bodies, such as his self-referential sculpture minus pedestal »Clydesdale Bank« for the exhibition space in the Binterimstraße, Düsseldorf, 2002, or »time is flying in your company«, public car park, Bremerhaven, 2003. Between the two thin layers of origami-esque plywood folds, the space is condensed so much that the sculpture does not merely take up three parking spaces, but in view of its presence, seems to occupy the whole car park. The search for motifs leads from the immediate vicinity of the car park to the textured ceiling of Bremerhaven´s Bürgermeister Smidt Church – although a seminal moment for Pfeifle´s search for a form, it is nevertheless so freely followed up, that one might speak of a mutual dynamization rather than a mere borrowing of motif. Pfeifle´s succinct touch and choice of simple shuttering material accrues a sensual presence in the aging of its rather trim form (the exhibition lasted three months); this presence, when juxtaposed to the shiny paintwork of the vehicles, elevates his sculpture to the realm of the auratic. The same process of geometric fragmentation, that is to say, the dissecting of appropriated space, is apparent in his »Wandfolgen« (Wall Sequences), which both graphically deconstruct and construct themselves by means of their constituent elements and thus extend pictorially into a two-dimensional surface. Typical examples of these accessible site-specific paintings are the following: »She gave her soul to the devil and bought her flat by the sea«, project room of the Galerie Christa Schübbe, Düsseldorf, 2003, »Makitamädchen«, Syrius, Düsseldorf, 2003. A key position is held by works such as »Bittweg 2«, Bittweg Düsseldorf, 2000, »WILLKOMMEN« (WELCOME), Kunstverein Schorndorf, 2003 or »wir sind da wo oben ist« (we are there where up is), Raum 500, Munich, 2005. These works meander through the entire three-dimensional space to connect irreversibly with the host architecture, and then condense surprisingly into a momentary two-dimensionality dependent upon the particular standpoint the observer adopts. In exemplary manner, the earlier work »Bittweg 2« occupies an empty apartment. A long hallway leads away to the end which is »filled« with what at first glance appears to be – figuratively condensed – a geometrical, diagonally striped image. Together with the door filling and the volume of light from the room behind, one can see what appears to be two-dimensional blockstripes diagonally traversing the door-opening. On closer inspection however, these diagonals reveal themselves to be box-like constructs made from plasterboard, which spiral across the walls, doors and windows up to the ceiling. With access denied, the work only permits partial views for the observer and then only in conjunction with the host architecture. The artist has positioned fivefluorescent tubes to provide light, which on the one hand illuminate the space and spatial annexation and on the other, are an integral, graphic element of the artwork. Pfeifle uses the exhibition space as a studio, whence »expeditions and raids« are launched into the »leftover « world. Without wanting to denigrate the presence or meaning of the »white cube«, he acquires additional satellites for it on his forays into the everyday world. The exhibition space itself becomes his topic and everyday possibilities are sequestered to resolve his artistic inquiries. Since its inception, the »Neobar« 1998–2002 has repeatedly taken on new forms and found new places and reasons for its existence: as a social sculpture, which is at once a space for discourse, plain fun and amoeboid spatial installation. The public´s interest is always taken for granted, artists often being their own clients. With this presupposition in mind works realized »in situ« never run the risk of wanting to create the exceptional, to turn into an event-space for experience for »the others«, but rather are extensions of the artist´s self. Emphatically as well as via a reinterpretation of simple materials, the spatial annexations draw closer to their host locations and lend them an individuality. The integral amalgamation of artistic activity and life in general has led Pfeifle and his colleagues to a peculiar, special, perhaps even anachronistic method of working, which should be emphasized here – in particular, Martin Pfeifle´s extraordinary and crucial collaboration with Seb Koberstädt. On the one hand, each of them realizes his own integral spatial solution, whereas on the other hand, they share the risk of an overlap. Parallel, separate realities encounter one another
in the same space. They permit unexpected synergies and collective spatial views, leading to sandwiched works, in which the sum of the individual works equals an unsuspectedly generous surplus value.
Curiosity about Martin Pfeifle´s work at the Kunsthalle is burgeoning.
/ Leni Hoffmann