Andreas M. Kaufmann

Galerie Rivet

In 1962, the Hungarian composer György Ligeti premiered his Poème Symphonique, a musical piece for a hundred metronomes. By positing the metronome as the performer of the concert (the pendulum weights were set so that each beat at a different speed), the work inverted the normal functions and roles of practical aids and musical instruments. Although he was perhaps not explicitly referencing Ligeti, Andreas M. Kaufmann practiced a similar reversal in his recent exhibition “Move,” distributing twenty-seven metronomes across five levels of scaffolding and the gallery floor. The uneven clicking of the metronomes marking various times filled the space with what sounded like a concert given by a host of neurotically chirping crickets.

Viewers were confronted by more than just this acoustical attack. Kaufmann paired each clicking metronome with a television monitor displaying views of the gallery space from varying angles. Depending on where you stood, you could see yourself on a monitor; viewers could interact with the work by moving closer or stepping off-screen. Perhaps the most irritating aspect of the installation was this: The views onto the gallery space were never fixed, but rather moved back and forth at different tempos like the swinging of the pendulums. As the observer looked at herself on the mon-itor, she appeared to be swaying stiffly, like Gilbert & George in the sequence “Bend It,” from their 1981 film The World of Gilbert & George. Searching for the camera, one eventually realized that tiny surveillance cameras were attached to the pendulums of the metro-nomes. In 1923, one recalls, Man Ray attached a photograph of an eye to a pendulum to reciprocate the eye of the observer; here Kaufmann likewise reverses the classic roles of reception, transforming the artwork on view into an actively gazing object.

Along with this large installation, 27 Blind Men Walking, 1999, Kaufmann presented a similar, smaller work in the bathroom of the gallery; it worked along the same lines. With only one metronome and one monitor, this piece was named, singularly, Blind Man Walking, 1996–99. Acousti-cally, both works evoke the rhythmic gait of a blind person walking with a cane.

Unlike Julia Scher or Ann-Sofi Sidén, who concentrate principally on the psychological aspects and social meaning of surveillance cameras, Kaufmann emphasizes the absurd, and consciously reveals the mechanisms that he himself has put into play. But subliminally Kaufmann’s work is no less about psychological and social issues, which becomes evident in the third video piece in the exhibition, Public Monument: Carlos, 1998–99. The video’s static camera shows a handicapped person in front of a department store, keeping a volleyball in the air with his crutches in an attempt to prompt passersby to give him money. Linking this work to the other two pieces is the sound of constant clicking, this time generated by the crutches. Beyond the work’s tragicomic aspect, Kaufmann delivers an ironic commentary on the conventional understanding of (public) sculpture and provokes questions about the meaning of public and private space.

Yilmaz Dziewior

Translated from German by Elizabeth Felicella.