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The individual and society as poles of a continuum

Heinz Lohmann und falkbrvt at PHOTO.KUNST.RAUM. Hamburg – Photo: Carmen Oberst

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seed #15 – The individual and society as poles of a continuum

Thoughts on the exhibition “who are you and if so, how many?”
by the conceptual artist falkbrvt – 8th to 24th of August,
2020 extended to september 9th
PHOTO.KUNST.RAUM. Hamburg

by Heinz Lohmann, healthcare entrepreneur and art collector
Translation by Kristina von Bülow, art historian and cultural manager

When Falk von Traubenberg announced the end of his artistic activities four years ago, this was confusing at first. However, incredulous and even worried inquiries did end up shedding light into the darkness of the announcement. It was about a creative break and, yes, also about a caesura. With the “selling off” of the works from old series, a certain closure of the previous creative phase was intended. But it also became clear that the artist intended to continue on after the break, which he originally thought to last a year, under his full name of birth, Falk Baron Rausch von Traubenberg, in short falkbrvt. This transformation as well points to a fundamentally new definition on the basis of a comprehensive questioning. Just how radical this existential step would turn out to be, the artist could not foresee at that point in time. Unanticipated personal and general events, deep incisions into life’s status quo, have turned one into a total of four years.

While in earlier works and particularly in the long-term series “fops – falk ́s orange pants stories“, the artists sets himself into relation to his surroundings, today it is photographs of his own body that for falkbrvt stand for human representations in general. Additionally, he makes use of digital fading of two photographs and an extremely strong rasterization of the original material. Examples of these content-related and technical processes are to be encountered in the current exhibition.

deformation #2 – dreaming of francis bacon
2019-0044

The work “deformation #2 dreaming of francis bacon“ shows a bandaged human face. It shows a dramatic injury in a blatant way. Figuratively speaking, we see an intervention into normality that makes a thorough re-orientation necessary. Proceeding as before is not an option. On the contrary, it is about reaching concrete instructions for action and thereby a realistic perspective on the basis of an in-depth analysis of the events.

Fundamental, existential questions that we humans grapple with have their causes not only in us ourselves, in the individual, but also in society, in the community of all. The answers are inseparably intertwined with the person, and thereby with the body and the environment, which is to say, the conditions of life. This realization applies to many facets of human life. For the individual and for each one of these aspects, it yields a specific composite relation of influences originating in ourselves or on the outside. The individual and society are the poles of this continuum. Depending on the answer to the posed questions, individual design options and societal life-defining expectations emerge. Humans strive for self-sufficiency, for autonomy, and are at the same time reliant on their integration into the community. Humans are equally communal beings and individual personalities.

There are situations in life of each and every one of us and in society as a whole, in which these raised questions attain particular relevance. Humans attempt here to gain a picture of the situation in general and of their own position, in order to fathom which concrete role they can assume in the creation of the future. The conceptual artist falkbrvt looks at these very moments in this exhibition. Not coincidentally, with the title of the show, he refers to the publication “Wer bin ich und wenn ja, wie viele?” [translated from German: “Who am I and if so, how many?”] by the philosopher Richard David Precht. In this highly popular book, the author ponders the “Why?” and thereby enables the readers to find own answers to the big questions of life. falkbrvt pursues the same goal with artistic measures. With the works of the exhibition, he addresses every one of us, even if it is by means of photographs of himself. To clarify that, he exchanges the “I” by a “you”.

who are you and if so, how many?
64 parts, gerneral view
2019-0073 til 2019-0136

The title-inspiring work “who are you and if so, how many” consists of 64 pieces overall. In the exhibition, it is shown by an excerpt of 16 pieces. The basis is a photo of a squatting human, who is symbolically represented by the body of falk brvt. This motive is overlayered by a second photograph that has been “cut” into 64 parts and shows the palette of a befriended painter. The digital original material is roughly structured. Each work amounts to 64 pixels for which the two images are blended in a specific relation.

This results in the two photographs appearing either dominant or tuned down at each raster point. The individual works thereby mirror a balanced relation of the original images’ content. They represent themselves, just like each individual human does, too. Concurrently, together they constitute a whole, similar to groups from small sizes all the way up to societies.

The square and the number 8 are form-defining elements for falkbrvt. They emerge time and again with structuring effects. Deduced from this, the number 4 appears often. In the exhibition, the artist applies it as the point of departure. After the disruption and the orientation, the work “auf der suche” [“searching”] is about perspective. falkbrvt foregoes the “double exposure” here, and instead makes use of an excerpt of a photograph. The work as a whole, he partitions into four squares that also function as images in their own right in terms of composition.

The exhibition “who are you and if so, how many?” consequently encompasses the personal and societal caesura in this unique time, the multi-layered analysis and re-definition of the focus of our lives, as well as the starting point of the future path. It is a courageous and dynamic state of mind in which the new goal is focused on. This “solo dance”, as falkbrvt calls his presentation at PHOTO.KUNST.RAUM, marks the beginning of something new.