Stefan Hoderlein

Schmidl + Haas

Everything is covered with letters—e’s—in front of the door, in the room. “Everything starts with an ‘E’” is the title—e as in ecstasy, the magical word of techno-culture. Ecstasy also characterizes a passion for collecting because this exhibition is full of things that can hardly be categorized.

In the flood of things that the viewer is supposed to pay attention to, there are only a few pathways to move through the installation. One pathway is built above documentation in which everything is given a permanent place. And then there is another path that leads to flooding. That may sound paradoxical, above all in light of the industry that many installation artists bring to their work in order to create ordering categories. But in Hoderlein’s exhibition this paradox is resolved. If one cannot find an order here, it is because I prefer to call his work a phenomenon, an atmospherically charged space: there are seven working televisions, two of which are playing techno-music already in front of the door; there is a small one in the window that shows someone dancing—“Jack in the Box”—behind a hole in a file binder. Another monitor stands under the coffee machine, one for looking, that plays “art from the third hand.” It is a collection of clips when actors “make art” or play at “being an artist.” Four walls are hung with orange covers, and on a fifth the frames are hung next to one another—Polaroids of the artist with the wisdom of everyday life that he has collected from magazines. On a table in the middle of the room, dozens of lighters are set up on a table. The space is full, colorful, loud.

For Hoderlein collecting does not serve ownership or ordering and categorizing; rather it is to make things freely available in thoughts or in situations that serve to rid oneself of all those impulses. One can’t, for instance, buy television guides for a year and simply throw them away at the end of a week. In his thoughts there remain traces of them—their design, typology, stars—or exactly those pieces of wisdom about hobbies. Hoderlein has collected the covers of television guides for over ten years, and for two years he has painted over them, except on the heads of stars and on one revealing adjective. Hoderlein grabs into the arrangement of meaning and thus the categorization of things that fall into his hands, as, for example, the lighters. He scratches the writing on them off—with the exception of one word that seems particularly trenchant.

In the midst of all those faces of movie stars, the lighters remind me of a concert ritual when the fans raise their lighters and become an illuminated mass. And I examine the gestures of the stars—trained by Aby Warburg—for comparisons and differences. Even the painted-over words correct me and show the possibility of transporting the same meanings through different objects—and vice versa—at least not to search for something new, but to intervene in the existing.

Many of Hoderlein’s works are series with definite beginnings and ends; the comparison with techno-music is also there. Through sampling, games of categorization reappear. Sometimes the music changes with the naming of a category, sometimes new names for the same music have been invented, and sometimes the same music will appear in different songs. And similar to a rave party, it’s better if one simply gives in to the exuberance of the dance rather than examining the possibilities of dance methods and music categories; and one can even become a member of Hoderlein’s most extensive project, the “GKS” (Geheimnisvolle K-Strahlung, the secret k-radiation).

Sabine B. Vogel

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.