Michael Dörner

Galerie Vera Munro

The curse of literacy is that everything that is written demands to be read. The compulsion to meet this requirement is not alleviated by the transformations Michael Dörner subjects the text to in his work; rather, by employing mirror writing and obscuring letters or words, he further complicates the process. In Dörner’s work reading becomes an act of perception.

The texts communicate logical propositions taken from mathematics textbooks: “The placement of an affine plane can unequivocally be continued into the placement of its projective extension.” Disconnected, without any context to situate it, the meaning of this sentence lies purely in its formal quality: as a proposition that is nonreferential and formulated only as a structure of relationships. This is generally true of almost all of Dörner’s works. Steel, glass, paint, neon—the material never serves to reproduce or represent the world; instead, it holds its own as autonomous material. Dörner’s works are based on material relationships; they do not depend on extrapictorial references. Signification stems solely from the properties of the given material. Thus, their reception is all that dictates the perception: neither the materials nor the writing contains any message of its own. Consistently self-referential, these works designate their own production as their only content; they do not make statements, and they represent only formal connections. Life, society, and history are banished from the discourse of this art and its reception. Concepts like authorship/subjectivity, sense, and significance are relegated to the realm of the no longer possible. Instead, a language of planes, lines and pictorial relations is established—a language, however, that inevitably mirrors extrapictorial order. But art is not neutral; it establishes meanings and makes claims, and so Dörner, by setting up an elegant neutrality in his works,is able to propose an antiorder by virtue of order’s absence.

Sabine B. Vogel

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.