Jürgen Drescher

Galerie Luis Campaña

While he was a student during the early ’80s, Jürgen Drescher collaborated with Reinhard Mucha on the creation of a temporary bar in the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. This work, which served as a meeting place for students, was both an artistic intervention and a functioning bar. Drescher and Mucha later revisited this idea with Modell. Konrad Fischers Bar, 1981, a piece with an even stronger sculptural character.

Like the Düsseldorf bar-project, Drescher’s recent installation, entitled Ich nehme mit einem eigenen Raum am Rheinischen Karneval teil (I participate with my own space in the Rhenish carnival), solicited the spectator’s active participation, and one could again trace a connection to the late gallery owner Konrad Fischer. Fischer was Bruce Nauman’s representative in Germany, and Drescher’s piece revealed the influence of Nauman’s corridor pieces. In 1968, Nauman erected a narrow passage out of wood and cardboard (this piece would become Performance Corridor, 1969) to use as a prop for his video Walk with Contrapposto. In this video, Nauman traveled through the passage with his hands clasped behind his head, in an exaggerated posture intended to suggest poses in antique sculpture, while also recalling a drunken man’s stagger.

Unlike Nauman’s corridor, Drescher’s narrow passageway also functioned as a kinetic work, since a simple mechanism caused the two paper walls to slowly sway back and forth. The corridor ran diagonally from the entrance to the office area, emphasizing the point of contact between visitor and gallerist, at the expense, of course, of the remaining exhibition space (the black walls functioned like blinders, causing the surrounding area to seem to disappear). Because the walls were constructed only of thick black sheets of paper, they also undulated slightly in response to the air currents produced as one passed through. The visitor had the sensation of traveling between two vibrating, even breathing walls, and steps that might otherwise have seemed firm began to feel shaky, as though one were reeling through some otherwordly space.

The contrast between the openness of the piece’s construction—each element’s function could be clearly recognized—and its illusionistic, almost surreal effects revealed an ambiguity that has been characteristic of Drescher’s work from the beginning of his career. Even in his early constructed spaces he manipulated simple elements to create an effect at once oppressive and serene.

Yilmaz Dziewior

Translated from the German by Diana Reese.