Patricia London Ante Paris

The artist adopted the pseudonym, Patricia London ante Paris, during her stay in London. For this exhibition, she created an installation, 4 Masosuta, 1992, for the imaginary figure of Masosuta. The windows of the gallery were covered to eye level with newspapers. In front of them there were four metal tables on which were placed four wooden boxes. Like altars they supported cast human organs. On the opposite wall hung Masosuta’s Manifesto, 1991—instructions on how to attain a better life in this world. The German text was translated into Arabic, Japanese, and English, and each text was framed like a diploma. In the back of the space, marked by gray woolen blankets placed in a square, there were four clumsily turned pots, an egg, and four nails driven into the wall. Numbers hanging over the arrangement encoded it as the bare minimum of civilized and social achievement: 1=curtains; 2=chair; 3=bed, etc. The newspapers functioned as curtains, the blankets as chairs or beds, the empty space on the floor as a table, and the nails as a closet. The mystically charged number seven floated above it, representing the imagination, and a polling station made of four plastic bottles invited the viewer to register his desires, needs, sacrifices, and privations.

Numerical abstraction, the intentional character of the manifesto as an appellation, or the poor materials she employed opened a multileveled associative field. In its modesty the work appeared as a manifestation of fundamental human rights;but at the same time it could be read as a vision of consumer society, or even as an installation about poverty. The possibility of any single interpretation was frustrated by the broad range of associations evoked. It was the viewer who brought his own experiences to the work, who determined its signification by responding to the esthetic systems employed. The newspaper curtains played with the concept of the media, representing power through their filtering function. The manifesto and the polling station also alluded to communicative structures.

The systemic irreconcilability of the various political, economic, and social realities took the form of cast organs, which were like erratic blocks within the interior of the space. Their presentation was pretentious as were their titles which were based on anatomical terminology. By breaking the relationship between external form and meaning, the communicative mechanisms were placed in the service of a lie. Within the context of these polarities established by the entire installation, the organs became fetishes of an authoritarian society that has lost ethical control over itself, one that, both arrogant and aggressive, cannot respect its own organic nature, not to mention human dignity.

The emptiness and meaninglessness of mass communication, of a culture dominated by the simulacrum, was countered by a semiotic design by means of which the artist extracted embedded cultural structures in order to explode them. But she did not offer clear solutions. Rather she examined the confusion and powerlessness of the individual in order to propel the viewer into a position of political and social responsibility.

Johanna Hofleitner

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.