In our contemporary world there are no pure, unprocessed materials outside the frame of culture, outside of language, outside of forms and signs. In our contemporary world materials are objects — carriers of culturally and ideologically pre-given meanings and scenarios. In their joint exhibition, Marlena Kudlicka, Ignacio Uriarte and Diogo Pimentão manifest this awareness with regard to paper as a processed material, a shape, a measurement unit, a building block, a tool, and an image. Entitled 3/1/1, the exhibition suggests a variety of perspectives and interpretations to what we can associate with paper, and consequently with drawing, and therefore with representation.
For Kudlicka, Uriarte and Pimentão, a sheet of paper is not just a thin surface made of cellulose pulp derived from wood, nor it is a neutral, transparent, invisible support or substrate. For them, it is a historical set of textures, formats, and ratios which conduct a wide range of activities and behaviors. For Kudlicka, Uriarte and Pimentão, a drawing is not just an unsubstantial, preliminary sketch depicting the outline of an object, nor it is an inferior category of painting; it is an action — an operation in real, architectural, three-dimensional space.
3/1/1’s initial point of departure is the international standard of paper sizes, i.e., the formats of the A series. Though perceived by many as an auto-generative, even transcendental height-to-width ratio, the international paper size system is an outcome of a particular historical constellation taking us back to Germany 1922, when the German Institute for Standardization published DIN 476, the standard that introduced the A series paper sizes, which was only adopted in 1975 as the international standard ISO 216. For Kudlicka, Uriarte and Pimentão, 3/1/1 begins with the historicization and relativization of the standard of the A series, up to a point where, rather than universal and timeless, it is received as a contingent result of contingent conditions.
f=different 3/1/1 (2016), Marlena Kudlicka’s sculpture for 3/1/1, stems from the image of an industrial paper cutter. Skeletal, linear, and to some extent graphic, the function-like, geometric sculpture, made of powder coated steel and glass, spatially outlines a height-width ratio that thematizes the notion of paper in terms of typology of formats. f=different 3/1/1 is a sculptural, self-referential drawing in space dealing with the preconditions of drawing as such.
The wall installations of Ignacio Uriarte take the exhibition’s exploration of paper and drawing to a different direction. Practicing drawing not as a procedure executed on paper but as an action of and with the paper itself, or more specifically, of and with the A series paper sizes, Uriarte’s wall installations consist of repetitive arrangements of identical groups of papers utilizing the A series ratio and the ISO paper size system as a sculptural material, while blurring the difference between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional, between flatness and spatiality.
Diogo Pimentão’s contributions to 3/1/1 articulate the exhibition’s ‘expanded field of drawing’ from an additional angle. ‘Soaked’ in graphite, his works can be described as paper sculptures (or sculptural papers) whose meaning and shape change and are constantly redefined in accordance to the viewer’s point of view (as seen, for example, in Walk (2015)), and to the actual site in which they are displayed (as seen, for example, in Sudden (Shape) (2015)).
The structural logic which 3/1/1 is based upon resonates a sort of an endless relay race. The exhibition is like one big track divided into three sections. As indicated in the exhibition’s poster, each of the three artists covers one section and the edges of each section overlap the others: Kudlicka’s Sculpture and Language stretches into Uriarte’s Language and Drawing, which stretches into Pimentão’s Drawing and Sculpture, which then stretches into Kudlicka’s Sculpture and Language, and so forth.
On the structural level, the exhibition predetermines the diffusion of each section of works into the others. While maintaining the distinction between the individual artistic contributions of its three artists, 3/1/1 seeks to delicately undermine the position of the artist as a singular, sovereign author.
Kudlicka’s, Uriarte’s and Pimentão’s experiments with paper and drawing situate their work in affinity to Donald Judd’s 1965 characterization of Minimalist works as “Neither Painting Nor Sculpture”, as well as to Conceptual Art’s “Aesthetic of Administration”. In addition to its interest in impersonalized standards of paper sizes, and its diffusive structure, these references further emphasize 3/1/1’s link to the politics of authorship, but at the same time they enable us to observe the ways in which the exhibition disobeys the canonical imperatives of Minimalist and Conceptual art, and to face its subtle, yet inexhaustible movement between materials and processes, between emptiness and fullness, negation and assertion, passivity and activity.
Text by Ory Dessau (2016)
Marlena Kudlicka (b.1973 in Poland) lives and works in Berlin. Her works have been exhibited in international institutions such as the MWM in Wroclaw (2016), the Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten in Marl (2016), the Kunstmuseum Bochum (2016), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb (2016), the Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw (2015), the Museum of Modern Art Lodz (2014) or the CGAC in Santiago de Compostela (2012). She also had residencies at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, the Schloss Solitude Akademie in Stuttgart and the International Residency Program Location One in New York, among others. Her first artist book is going to be published in September 2016.
Ignacio Uriarte (b.1972 in Germany) lives and works in Berlin. His work has been exhibited at the Kunstmuseum Bonn (2016), the Kunstmuseum Bergisch Gladbach (2015), the Kunsthaus Dresden (2013), the Drawing Center in New York (2013), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Istanbul (2011), the CGAC in Santiago de Compostela (2011), the Nationalmuseum in Berlin (2011) and the Kunstverein Arnsberg (2010), among others. His works were acquired by public institutions such as the collection of the Berlinische Galerie in Berlin, the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich or the Museum Ludwig in Cologne.
Diogo Pimentão (b.1973 in Lisbon) lives and works in London. His work was shown at the Museu Grão Vasco in Viseu, Portugal (2016), the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Paris (2015), the Museu de Arte Contemporânea - Colecção António Cachola in Elvas, Portugal (2015), the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) in Dublin (2015), the MAMAC in Nice (2012) and the Centre d’Art Contemporain de la Ferme du Buisson in Noisiel, France (2011), among others. His works are represented in the collections of institutions such as the Collection Lambert in Avignon, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Pomeranz Collection in Vienna, the Portugal Telecom Foundation in Lisbon or the Fonds National d’art contemporain in Paris.