Raimund Kummer

Galerie M. + R. Fricke

The experience of viewing Raimund Kummer’s works is usually characterized by a conflict between what one sees and what one knows. In Kummer’s recent exhibition, six apparently heavy granite slabs piled atop one another and separated by wooden shims, prove, upon closer inspection, to be utterly fake. Treated to look like granite, they are, in fact, made of Styrofoam. Even knowing this, however, we have a hard time acknowledging the fact that these “stone slabs” are soft, light, and fragile.

A color photo mounted on top of the slabs is sandwiched between two glass panes and supported by iron girders. Illuminated from below by a lamp, the image, which suggests a body part, (possibly an ear), is nevertheless difficult to discern. Why an ear, one wonders, and why moreover is this image presented with these faux stone slabs? After all, the slabs are aimed at the eye, which they try to dupe. Does the trick also involve the sense of hearing? What do stone slabs sound like anyway? Hearing is as much a matter of perception as seeing, and our perceptions are decidedly confused by these pseudo-stone slabs.

As if the tease this art object constitutes were not sufficiently irritating, the title: Signifikanz—Loch (Significance—hole, 1985–89), is pointedly provocative. Yet this work certainly constitutes a hole, a pit, a kind of trap. “Significance” is a word that instantly evokes a ream of associations. The entire history of linguistic discussion comes to mind, recalling one of the most epoch-making discoveries of our century: namely, that the sign is not identical with its meaning. How true this rings in front of Kummer’s work.

Noemi Smolik

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.