14 Jan 2012 – 18 Feb 2012

Galerie koal

Berlin, Germany


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By being opened up about 1m below the old ceiling of the former main post office, the gallery's exhibition space — which resembles an almost hermetic white cube — presents itself as a windowless space capsule inside of an architectural envelope. Like an arena, the neutral space deflects attention away from itself, offering virtually no conceivable approach to it. The continuum of this smooth, white-painted spatial container is interrupted only by a single incision in the left-hand third of the front wall, which allows visitors entry, as well as by the two doors which have been set into the ends of the same wall. Schreiber exploits this sole violation of this spatial geometry as his point of departure. Drawn by hand using ink markers and ruler beginning from this incision are vertical lines whose height corresponds to the proportions of a human being, and which terminate 30 cm above the floor. This procedure of inscribing lines is repeated as often as allowed by the surface between the entry and the right-hand corner of the room. Resulting from this procedure is a wall surface that is 'marked' in a double sense, and which is then, in a second step, mirrored onto the opposite wall at a 90° angle to a diagonal across the space of the room. While the original surface is determined and framed by the space, its mirror image now seems to appear freely on the wall, i.e. without encountering preestablished boundaries. Despite the absence of the spatial references which shape the first surface, the second one too is dependent upon the principle of the mirroring of the specific proportions and dimensions of the exhibition space. Within the mirrored surface as well, the procedure of inscribing lines is repeated. As with the first surface, the resultant linear field is characterized — despite the apparent regularity of its execution — by the presence of visible imperfections. Generated during the process of drawing by hand, these are intentional, deliberate, yet at the same time in no sense calculated. The texture and workmanship of the wall surface, for example, is reflected in the final drawing. Irregularities and shadows of soiling from earlier pictures or hangings — the combined traces and scars of previous utilizations — allow for another intervention of the exhibition space into the art. Once again, he emerges as a protagonist at least on equal terms with the artist himself. And even though the inscribing hand, with its necessarily varying position, is also responsible for deviations with regard to the thickness of the lines and the intervals which separate them, the result is a lack of definition which creates a degree of uncertainty about secure artistic authorship. Standing before Schreiber's wall drawing, it proves difficult to distinguish clearly between the various media — the wall surface, the space and its mirroring, the markers, the ruler, the executing individual, and the actual effects of the media — in the overall appearance of the work. Who or what is responsible for each detail, and how does he (or it) participate in their interplay? In its restriction to the repetition and execution of a predetermined process, the role of the artist here appears to approach the postmodernist conception of the scripteur" as conceptualized by Roland Barthes in his essay "The Death of the Author" ["La mort de l‘auteur"] (1968). As a scribe, the artist is now simply the initiator of a "tissue of quotations," and does not himself emerge in the text as a person — his hand now inscribes, "cut off from any voice, borne by a pure gesture of inscription (and not of expression)." Just as Barthes, finally, regards the death of the author as signaling the birth of the reader, Schreiber's wall drawing inaugurates an open-ended field of reflection for viewers which invites them to exchange the search for meaning for participation in the interplay of the media.

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