Anselm Stalder

Anselm Stalder puts signs in motion. For this exhibition he built three identical electronic “writing machines,” Talking bells, 1992; each key on the keyboards of these machines plays a specific note. Thus musical (esthetic) structure and form follow the letters and punctuation marks as the artist types: graphemes become music. This process of reproduction transforms words into an event, musical movements become visual and semantic matter. The Talking bells preserve the immaterial in a rudimentary, transparent construction.

Complex practices of shock and filtering permeate Stalder’s work, above all in his painting, the composition of which is broken again and again by photographs and projections. The 100 paintings of hands look like stills from an unending film. A new, 13-part work cannot be remade: leftover oil paints that seem to have been spread on a piece of paper offer the starting point for photographing, selecting, projecting, transferring, completing, and rephotographing. In the completion of this work a box was created in which wooden paintings were hidden; this picture archive is finally completed since that is its final transformation. The result here is a series of small-format photo-graphics, in which the absence of light and color is undifferentiable from its presence.

In the past few years numerous artists have examined the status of photography, but Stalder still uses the camera as a simple tool in order to find image intensities. This use of photography causes an overreproduction of the image that breaks down any claim to representation or to mastering a technique. For the first time Stalder exhibits photographs, underscoring that photography is a medium from which he has removed himself. These images are scattered and torn up—their dissolution impedes one’s reading. The work of art has become precarious and incorporates its own commentary. The Talking bells play the tune of commentary until it begins to dance.

Hans Rudolf Reust

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.