The title of the exhibition is inspired by Wittgenstein’s notion of “Beschreibung” (description), focusing on the idea that human behavior is narrated, and thus, a story cannot be approached directly. Reflecting on Wachsmuth’s long-term interest in observation and description, the exhibition brings together four different works, questioning the acts related to the materialization of memory and the cultural (re)constructions of history. Various materials such as ceramics, porcelain, stone and textile are the constituents of the visual narrative that is outspread in the exhibition.
The video titled “Qing” is the main piece of the exhibition. It shows a dancer interacting with traditional Chinese silk-robes and porcelains. Taking its roots from a personal story, this piece focuses on the idea of “migration of gestures” through the situation of the immigrants who cannot take anything with them except the physical knowledge that is part of their cultural heritage. Accompanied by an arrangement of archival materials, “Qing” experiments with narrative formats and modes of meaning production, thus suggesting an interpretation of the continued existence of antique forms and signs into the present.
In Wachsmuth’s photograpic series “Signatures”, the audience is confronted with names of travelers and visitors inscribed in the stone walls of the antique Gate of All Nations in Persepolis, Iran. Highlighting the idea that archeology has always been part of political interests, the work focuses on this proprietorial act as a gesture aimed at claiming legitimacy for the right of exploitation. Another group of photos stands in a close dialogue with this series, a triptych showing Christian icons from Cappadocia–whose faces have been erased. This work shows another violent mode of rededication from the course of history: the iconoclasm. In both cases, the underlying material holds the memory of what was once written onto it, keeping the historical account as a dynamic process.
Similarly, Wachsmuth’s series “Master of the Nets – The Kochi Tiles” is concerned with the movement of forms through time and space. It depicts Chinese tiles from the seventeenth century that he encountered in a synagogue in Kochi (India). This observation adds up to the narrative of the exhibition by adressing the notions of repetition and singularity in relation to shared and differentiated characteristics of cultural heritages.
The works in the exhibition Some Descriptive Acts come together to question historiography, archeology and their inescapable subjective characteristics.