Critics’ Picks

Irma Blank, Global Writings, Splitter AE-1, 2009, ink and pencil on transparent paper, 14 x 11''. From the series “Global Writings, Splitter,” 2009.


Irma Blank

Galerija Gregor Podnar
Alt-Moabit 110
September 9–November 18, 2017

As seen in her famous large-scale works rendered in ballpoint pen, writing, in its occasionally unvarnished instrumentality, is Irma Blank’s greatest subject. Here, in an exhibition devoted to what she calls her “Global Writings,” the artist attempts to excavate the seismic universality of grammatographical expression from its semantic commitment. In the five pages of Global Writings, Lineare, 2005, for instance, the handwritten textual markings recall Bengali or Sanskrit. Step away to compare the arrangement of paragraph clusters on each page, and the sculptural dimensions of the project become richly apparent. Language is a vehicle and a soundscape, of course, but also a sculpture.

Blank is at her best when she’s at her rawest: applying pen or pencil directly to paper. The clear highlight is three works in the series called “Global Writings, Splitter,” 2009, wherein the performance of a gesture leaves impressions all over the transparent paper: mostly variants of an S shape, but executed from all different angles––from a distance, they resemble schools of insects swarming across the palest of surfaces.

Less potent is the effect that results when the artist tries to transfer her approach to more expensive materials, as in Global Writings C, 2000–2008, a digital font sample screen-printed on steel. A few other instances of what Blank or her gallery calls “digital writing” betray a confusion that calls for clarification: typography, while a distinct art form, is not writing.