Raimond Kummer

It is not surprising that Raimund Kummer entitled his latest opus Rosebud, 1991, for this is the key word in Orson Welles’ film classic Citizen Kane, 1941. This movie masterpiece, which tried to expose the truth about the press czar William Randolph Hearst by unearthing childhood experiences, is characterized by a play of lucid proportions and camera work, which is also reflected frequently throughout Kummer’s oeuvre. He steers the viewer’s eyes, creating astonishing situations only to unmask them quickly as illusions. In so doing, he gropes his way along the threshold between the real world and the pictorial world.

Here the visitor seemed to have wandered into the middle of “Jack and the Beanstalk” or Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. A gigantic ivy branch loomed through a door into the gallery space, making the visitor’s entrance difficult. Amid the ivy leaves, under a pane of glass on the floor, there was a color photograph of a human ear illuminated from behind by a red light. Both elements seem artificial; the plant is cast in bronze, and the photograph looks like a strange red, pulsating body.

While nature seems to be hearing with an ear, it begins seeing in other works. In two of Kummer’s smaller photo pieces, Albino-Komplex III and IV, both 1990, we discern an albino eye with its characteristic red pupil amid real ivy. Each eye mirrors a different view of the sky and the surrounding trees, echoing the motifs of eyes and leaves employed by countless Surrealists from Max Ernst to Luis Buñuel.

The bronze ivy branch also serves as the catalyst for two other works. In one piece, the paper is wavy, like a plant leaf; the structure of its veins corresponds to sunspots. The title, Noch einmal heroisch (Heroic once again, 1991) is elucidated chiefly by the form of its presentation. The setting of the bronze ivy leaf is a black box used to store valuables, which is lying on an appropriately large tabletop. The plant of ephemerality, frozen in metal, is shown as if it were jewelry or in a coffin. On the floor next to this arrangement there is a similar photograph entitled Optiwhite, 1991; this one, however, is not developed on paper but on glass. The fragility of the transparent material contrasts with the frame, which is made of unfinished wooden laths, normally used for the packing of glass, the manufacturer’s delivery tickets still hanging from the raw wood.

Justin Hoffmann

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel