Tatjana Doll

Art & Public

A withdrawal voucher from Deutsche Bank dated 6/14/05 (Ueberweisungsschein I [Transfer Fund 1]) and one from 7/15/05 (Ueberweisungsschein 2 [Transfer Fund 2]) painted in oil or lacquer on cotton fabric: THIS FORM WILL BE PROCESSED BY A MACHINE. ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS OR CHANGES TO THE PRE-PRINTED DATA ARE NOT ALLOWED.The contradiction between the content of this statement and the freedom of its painterly transposition is apparent, and there is something surprising about the revelation to the public of a most intimate realm: personal finances. Tatjana Doll paints unremarkable elements of her everyday life in a media-saturated urban environment, among them the tangle of cables for her chargers, a cell phone, an iPod, the prices posted at a gas station, the eBay log-in screen, posters reading HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS. And she paints these pictogram-clear motifs in swift strokes, grossly oversize in giant formats, which in this Geneva gallery have a virtually explosive effect. Doll has previously displayed her billboard-size paintings in public places in Berlin, where she lives, and in New York, inserting them between retail ads, as if a bit of gesturally free post-Pop had been beamed back to the commercial front. Likewise, Doll has painted Mercedes automobile-carriers at sizes up to about thirteen by thirty-six feet, as well as Ferraris and Hummers, from various perspectives. In this way, painting becomes a boundless and uncontrollable moment in a society that acts out its fantasies of security via the relentlessly strict cubism of Hummer SUVs.

The numbers and lines on a gas station sign or on a banking slip introduce an element of reading into the consideration of painting. At first blush, the compositions seem to have merely copied their real-life models, the forms to have been rendered as is, but a second look reveals a multitude of choices in their translation. Painted, the text becomes peculiarly fleeting. The letters begin to waver and the dates lose their unambiguous status, becoming subjectively interpretable variables. Soft-focus pastel colors surround the computer-generated form from the age of the laser printer with a handmade aura, which is as much a belated instance of painting as it is an early historicization of today’s digital culture. Doll has said, “I am often aware of the insipidness of the present, and I don’t mean this flippantly; rather, I feel no claim on any future time, any possibility of overcoming the inevitable (the inevitability of death). . . . I think so materially and in the present that the idea of eternity or a hereafter (death) is really just a mental crutch for dealing with memory, loss, one’s own sense of death.” In their playful way, these paintings of consumer goods also get one thinking about the rapid consumption of art at any of the rapidly multiplying fairs. The painted deposit slip short-circuits the contemplation of art with the perception of economic interests: “materially and in the present.”

Hans Rudolf Reust

Translated from German by Sara Ogger.