to the exhibition "regarde
Photographs by Klaudia Dietewich
Orangerie im Hofgarten, 74592 Kirchberg/Jagst
Sunday, September 11th, 2022
Have you ever been out and about in nature after a rain shower, out and about in the city, no matter where, whether in the deepest forest or in a winding backyard between grey house walls, you move towards a puddle and from a certain angle the sky is reflected in it? It's a spectacle every time, it's touching every time and somehow it's also a great comfort to see the sky in a puddle and even children know that if you make yourself small in front of the puddle, you see more of the sky.
And when we walk towards the Orangerie here in the Hofgarten, when we approach the exhibition building, we see the two-part work 'regarde le ciel' by the artist Klaudia Dietewich, and indeed not only the trees and bushes are reflected, but also the sky is reflected by the window panes of the Orangerie. Presumably, the quickly sprayed graffiti was on the ground, somewhere in Paris, and the attentive artist captured it with her camera.
Since Klaudia Dietewich gave up her work as a social worker many years ago, since she stopped painting and drawing and also silk-screen printing completely, since then she has created an artistic photographic oeuvre, the significance of which is now becoming more and more apparent, as it has continuously developed away from common fashions.
Die Künstlerin fotografiert Spuren, sie hält ihre Kamera, wo sie geht und steht auf den Erdboden, sie fotografiert Straßenstücke und Löcher und Schrammen im Gehweg, ihr Interesse gilt den Verletzungen der Straße, dem schadhaften und geflickten Asphaltstück, nicht dem Makellosen, so bildet das rissige Asphaltstück am Straßenrand den Nährboden für Kunst. Die Künstlerin findet das Aufregende und Bemerkenswerte in ihrer urbanen und nächsten Umgebung an der Bordsteinkante in Stuttgart Degerloch, genauso wie im weitentfernten rissigen Mauerstück in Shanghai.
Nowadays, it is precisely the smooth and flawless that is the signature of the present and I ask myself why is it that we find the smooth so beautiful?
It embodies today's positive attitude, especially with our super-smooth smartphones we follow the aesthetics of the smooth, not only externally, but also in terms of content, any kind of communication seems smoothed out, only positive likes are valid, a dislike - I don't like it at all - no longer exists in the world of influencers on Instagram. Sharing and liking are a means of smoothing out communication, negatives are eliminated because they represent obstacles for our accelerated communication.
Once discovered and photographed, they are sorted and catalogued on the computer at home. The artist meticulously records the place, time and date for each of these photographic objects and, after printing them on aluminium-dibond panels, labels them in detail along with her signature on the back.
So the artist always carefully chooses the material, chooses the detail.
She selects the composed detail, which functions according to the laws of her art, in such a way that colour and form are in harmony and in tension with each other. Long phases of work of great intensity precede the panels that appear so light, hours and days of selecting and encircling the motifs.
Seeing - thinking - deciding.
And thus Klaudia Dietewich turns an incidental occurrence that lies beneath us, on the street and under our feet into a picture and a work of art.
And what can't all be discovered on the path, which is divided into several small groups. A fragile yellow stripe with a black determined dot on a green roughened background from Pittsburgh, a rising small atomic cloud from Nagasaki, a five-part bush of feathers from Oldenburg in front of a blue geometric background, an overturned shapeless table from Istanbul on a dark red carpet, a wonderful yellow sock from Buenos Aires, a black blob with small friends from Tokyo and a hanging branch from Wissembourg in France with a last leaf on it. A little angel beckons from Würzburg and the Leaning Tower of Pisa is now in Paris.
You see, it is easy to read a lot into things without giving them any real meaning or nonsense.
These signs do not point to anything. They stand for themselves and are free. And yet they stimulate my imagination, and do so even more when I learn where these wondrous road signs and asphalt drawings come from and how universal they ultimately are!
In the art world, red dots stand for a sale, so red dots stand for success, if you will, for a success of the artist or the gallerist. Years ago I was at an art fair and for 5 days I watched the goings-on in the gallery booths across the way.
The week went by sluggishly, was exhausting and sales, both in my own and neighbouring berths were sluggish and left a lot to be desired.
But on Sunday evening, it must have been after 5pm, something amazing happened. I was watching the two pretty girls from the well-known Visasvis Gallery and they were busy sticking red dots on almost all the paintings on display.
I rushed over to congratulate them and was delighted to see the flood of red dots, ............the two girls just grinned and one of them said in a friendly way that the boss had just called and ordered them to stick red dots....
Irritated and disappointed, I went back knowing that I was in kindergarten.
This little, rather laughable episode has nothing to do with the work of Klaudia Dietewich, it only shows that lies and deception and a lot of hot air are part of daily business in the art market, as everywhere else.
Immediately after the Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin was opened to the public in 2010, the artist travelled there to take photographs, presumably she sighted a lot, discovered a lot and photographed even more. Among them, a whole series of Red Dots, 20 of which she placed on the front wall of this room and hanging around the corner. Printed on especially thick handmade paper, all the red dots look different, they are never equally round and hardly any of them are pure red, here a black dot at 6 o'clock, there a grey line at half eight, here a dark cross 3/ 4 five and here one across the glowing sun.
Woher die Spuren kommen mögen, spielt gar keine Rolle mehr, ob von Bremsspuren eines Fahrrads oder von Turnschuhen, von Skateboards oder Dreirädern, das ist ganz egal, entscheidend ist nur ihre grafische Wirkung, ihre Zinnoberrote Farbe, ihre immergleiche Anordnung, mittig auf dem starken Bütten, der sich wiederholende Sonnenkreis, sich immer anders wiederholend ist es ein Ansammlung von Kraft und Energie, das ist der Stil der Künstlerin, an einer Sache dran zu bleiben, genau zu sehen und uns damit zu konfrontieren, einer Sache auf den Grund gehen, wieder und wieder, und uns fragend ob wir mitgehen auf die Suche nach den kleinen Unterschieden, ob wir mitgehen nach den reizvollen Entdeckungen im Rot und uns fragend was ein Bild oder eine Bildreihe kann? Was leisten die Farben? Was bewirken sie im Raum?
They give a lot to the conscious viewer and since they are located on a former airfield, an airfield that was meant to take off into the sky, they again fit so well with our initial view of the sky.
I believe that some signs can only be found by Klaudia Dietewich, can only be discovered by her, or even more clearly, they only exist in order to be found by her!
With the series Metalimnion, the artist shows us once again that her photographs do not simply show a section of the visible world, of visible phenomena, but rather depict the visual traces of the time in which they were taken.
Metalimnion is the confusing and initially meaningless title of a series consisting of over 20 works, six of which the artist has brought here and spread out on the floor.
Metalimnion describes a kind of thermal thermocline......., the middle layer of a stagnant body of water that separates the upper, warmer layer from the lower, colder water layer, according to the explanatory view of the term on Wikipedia.
And indeed, we immediately believe ourselves to be in an underwater world, the greenish turquoise surfaces appearing like underwater photographs or deep cuts into the eternal ice. We think we recognise algae, small aquatic animals, amoebae and small fish, we believe we are undoubtedly underwater.
And in many a detail I think I recognise a primordial animal cast in synthetic resin, a winged insect, a primeval fossil, slowly drifting timelessly in the greenish turquoise colour space.
What we see in reality, however, is sobering and fascinating at the same time.
No living beings at all, but are simply dirt, skid marks, glue residues and much more, on a greenish transparent glass pane. These are the glass panes of the skylights of the Kunstmuseum at Kleiner Schlossplatz in Stuttgart.
You can't guess that, via the title, the artist leads us down a wrong path, whereby no one, without reading up, knows what Metalimnion means. Yet she leads us on ice, so to speak.
Is this important?
No and yes, maybe it's a joke she's making by selling us skid marks and chewing gum residue as primordial animals, or maybe she's questioning her art and, above all, our way of looking at it. I don't need to know that this is glue residue to be able to lose myself in this painting, to dive deep into this endless green space.
Art confronts us by being seen, by looking at art and at the world. By walking, driving and travelling I move through the world and by looking at art I move through the picture, or on the sculpture and yet always remain with myself. However, what I myself have in my luggage is also decisive when looking at art and discovering the world. So my question is What is there?
Ladies and gentlemen, what is there? This is the question I ask myself when I go to an exhibition. And with this question I try not to block anything for myself, but on the contrary I try to open myself, to open myself up and perhaps to let myself in for something unfamiliar. I DON'T ALWAYS SUCCEED.
Because just as the artist has a lot of things in his luggage before he starts working, I as a viewer have a lot of things with me as "head luggage", sometimes I'm in a good mood and sometimes I'm in a bad mood, or irritated and then everything is too much for me and all it takes is one unpleasant colour to make me furious, other times I am full of humour and smile about many things I see.
For example, in the work DESOBEISSANCE, which is leaning against the wall in the courtyard outside, I immediately have a direct reference to the shooting of the rebels by Francisco Goya, especially on this wall, which looks so brittle and scraped off, this writing of 'disobedient' seems to me like a contemporary answer to the picture of the great Spanish artist, whom I admire very much, painted in 1814. And disobedience, that is DESOBEISSANCE, is virtually a civic duty in times like these!
My little tour of the exhibition ends in the basement of the house, where the artist shows us two videos: On the one hand, we see the blue water
of a swimming pool, in which the light of the sky is refracted in endless waves, and again we look up at the sky although we point our heads downwards.
And on the other hand, we now see the sky over Degerloch projected here into the bricked-up window recess of this cellar room. If you listen carefully, you can hear a few children's voices and now and then a bird flies through the picture. With these two glimpses of the sky, the exhibition "regarde" comes full circle, as does our imaginary view into the puddle.
The artist's informal approach creates profound images. The sensitive photographic pigment print on the shiny metal is chosen in a very differentiated way and ranges from fine glazes to almost impasto heaviness.
The non-objective image sections can evoke in the viewer a longing for the riddles of nature, perhaps also for its power, the play of the elements or an ambivalent impenetrability. There is always something new to discover: organic forms, abbreviated characters, splashes of colour and traces that can disappear after the next rain.
We all want to leave traces and do so incessantly, partly linked to a great longing for authenticity.
This longing for what is actually impossible, for what many lack in their everyday lives - the passion - the determination to influence the course of things - the desire to be someone else, to transform oneself and set out for the land of miracles and surprises, all this and much more can certainly be found in the life of Klaudia Dietewich, but in teamwork with her partner Raimund she was and is able to transform this longing into tremendous power and it is precisely this power that we also find in her art. Which challenges, surprises and impresses me again and again.
Thank you very much.
Spurenlese – The Relevance of Questing Traces
The poet, by carefully selecting his words and relying on his sense of rhythm and rhyme, extracts the quintessence from the banality of everyday language. Between the lines, his poem opens up an echo chamber in which to examine the meaning of life. In the same way, artist Klaudia Dietewich creates her densely suggestive extracts of reality by drawing from the unpretentious and the trivial, which she discovers in man-made habitats. Her keen eye perceives traces of wear and tear, vestiges of previous use, on road surfaces or building facades. In the seclusion of her laconic photographs, these images are transformed into skillfully composed works of abstract art – transcendent and elemental. A detail of superimposed lane markings on asphalt, for example, evokes suprematist concepts. The well-balanced, pure geometric composition calls to mind the energetic-intellectual absolutism in visual expression sought by the early 20th century avantgarde. Furthermore, Klaudia Dietewich's photographs of tar patches bear gestural lines that reference informalism. Scratch marks on facades evoke atmospheric landscapes, streaks of color resemble satellite images of the Earth’s surface, cracks in plaster suggest rivers and deltas.
The beauty of these omnipresent trifles lies in the eyes of the beholder. In reality, we are likely to be oblivious to them in the context of our everyday surroundings. However, thanks to the artist’s adept selection of motifs and subtle staging, we may be inspired to perceive these traces in our immediate environment with a fresh eye. Flaws and patches are no longer judged defects; instead, these markings enhance mundane surfaces. It is worthwhile to consider man-made traces: not only do these manifest the will to utility, but also natural coincidence. They are evidence of a society’s cultural characteristics, insofar as a comparison of traces from different cities, countries, continents allows us to draw conclusions about the respective aesthetic idiosyncracies and preferences. The often unintentional repairs in public places and the accidental traces resulting from mechanical influences through previous users are mute witnesses to a universal creative drive.
These public phenomena are transformed into works of art only through discovery, creative focus, and astute, complex staging. The artistic transformation of the trivial into a meaningful visual language amounts to the ennobling of normality. After observing Klaudia Dietewich’s staged extracts of reality, the beholder will experience familiar surroundings with new awareness. Attuned, armed with sharpened eyes, we will seek traces in familiar surroundings, gaining a new connection to what we previously ignored. The traces discovered and appropriated will become familiar, eventually subsumed into the diffuse feeling we refer to as “home.” They become parameters of the places where we carry out our daily tasks – and thus a part of our individually unspectactular lives.
From an art historical point of view, Klaudia Dietewich’s quest for traces and transformation draws on the avantgarde achievements of early modern and post-war art movements. At this time, various innovative artists had abandoned academic notions of art and begun to create works manifesting a new visual language involving unorthodox methods and materials previously held alien to artmaking. In Paris even before the First World War, artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris, along with the Zurich Dadaists Hannah Höch, Kurt Schwitters, and others after 1916 integrated quotidian snippets into their collages and oil paintings. Between the wars, the prolific Max Ernst took up frottage, creating a fascinating body of work involving everyday objects and inconspicuous surfaces, heightened by the addition of skillful drawings to create surreal phantasms. From the mid-1950s, pop art pioneer Richard Hamilton focused on the power of the filtered image gleaned from the consumer world with his collages incorporating contemporary advertisement. In the 1960s, the artists of the Parisian nouveau réalisme practiced the direct and provocative application of found objects and traces in their art. In particular, Jean Tinguely with his métamatics, Jacques Villeglé with his décollages and déchirages, and Arman and Daniel Spoerri with their accumulations und assemblages subversively questioned the traditional idea of individual artistic process, causing a furore with their notorious artistic actions. In addition, land art focuses particularly on the fascinating subject of traces. Here, natural phenomena may be concentrated through artistic intervention (Andy Goldsworthy), or the artists themselves either create traces in situ (Michael Heizer, Richard Long, Robert Smithson) or document their temporary presence through concrete material, acoustic, or verbal-imaginary tracks (Lothar Baumgarten, Hamish Fulton). Later, artistic extracts are made accessible to a broad public through exhibitions. Klaudia Dietewich’s oeuvre dovetails with this canon of avantgarde trackers and transformers, offering a new and versatile approach to the artistic appropriation and processing of traces.
Dr. Gabrielle Obrist, Zürich, 2016
Statt Ansichten - Exhibition Series STADT/LAND/SCHAFT
Galerie im Kornhaus, Kunstverein Schwäbisch Gmünd e. V. – 7. Nov 2014
Accompanying the State Garden Show 2014 of the city of Schwäbisch Gmünd, the Kunstverein Schwäbisch Gmünd explored the concepts of city and garden in a series of exhibitions. We assumed that a garden is a demarcated piece of land, privately used for growing crops or also for artistic, spiritual or therapeutic purposes. A garden does not correspond to nature. It is always artificially created, controlled; it is tamed, shaped and cultivated nature. It condenses plants and landscape forms in a limited space, i.e. it is a designed image.
Cities, we have come to think of them, are also firmly delimited settlements, condensed cultural spaces in which people live in specific social and spatial organisations. The urban landscape (urbanscape) resembles the concept of the garden in its planned, but often also uncontrolled growing and overlapping spaces and networks of relationships in connection with controlled urban planning and administrative organisational structures.
So in the exhibition series STADT/LAND/SCHAFT we have traced the structures of landscape and urbanscape, taking into account diverse natural, cultural and social aspects. I highly recommend the catalogue with all the participating artists as well as texts and reflections on the theme.
The Garden Show is over, we have one last exciting contribution to offer.
Klaudia Dietewich's STATT ANSICHTEN.
All nature, all references to the plant world, to growth, as they still sounded in the previous exhibition by Hannelore Weitbrecht, are now completely removed. We see a lot of grey, shiny metal in front of us. Square or rectangular plates seem to float a little in front of the wall, oscillating between pictorial and object character, arranged in groups. In a floor work, uniform blocks are in a strict, linear row. On the wall hang objects, found objects, that can hardly be traced back to their original meaning and origin. And scenes from the underground stations of the world's metropolises are shown on a monitor.
The works exhibited here, with their reduced colour palette and geometric rigour of arrangement and grouping of formats, already offer a very superficially appealing charm in the sometimes dominant medieval space with its heavy, dark brown oak pillars and the many mullioned windows. Thus attracted by the whole ensemble, we as viewers then next try to find out what we are actually seeing here. It was difficult for me to press my thoughts on this into a stringent order. I would therefore like to share with you my reflections and associations on individual keywords that I think are related to this exhibition:
How do we know that there was once a sea of snail-shaped creatures, the ammonites, in our area? There is nothing left of most of the ammonites that we find as fossils in the slates, for example from Holzmaden, the parts of the body and shell were completely compressed. However, this happened in soft mud that only later hardened into stone. So what we still see of the animal here is not its body, but the imprint, the trace that this body left in the mud. The term trace originally only refers to the footprint. If you watch the Sunday detective stories on television as avidly as I do, you will immediately think of all traces that reveal the presence of people and possibly also the course of events.
Klaudia Dietewich collects traces. Not with a criminalistic flair but as an artistic method. What you see here on the walls and floor were initially photographic detail shots of inconspicuous, perhaps run-down places. Road markings, oil stains, repairs in the road surface, dirt. When someone arrived at the Gmünd bus station lately, their gaze certainly rarely fell on yellow markings in the asphalt. I, for one, did not notice these markings in the hustle and bustle of the garden show or its preparation last year. The work, which can also be seen on the invitation card, was created in October 2013. Klaudia Dietewich seems to be tracing motifs in a city that most people pass by carelessly, possibly even rejecting them as ugly spots. She thus shows us in this exhibition STATT ANSICHTEN, which is the title of the exhibition.
View, then, is the next keyword.
A view is first of all an illustration, depiction, representation. In other words, it is actually a picture. Already here an ambiguity creeps in, which we will encounter further in the works of Klaudia Dietewich. An ambiguity that is ultimately also absolutely necessary. "If a work is unambiguous, it is not a work of art", was the thesis of my former teacher Professor Paul* Kästner in Heidelberg.
Of course, we also know view in the meaning of aspect or opinion. The concrete standpoint of a viewer in a visual experience then became a position in the abstract, cognitive, psychological sense. And view is also perception, both in the sense of conception, perception, and in the sense of an assumption. The direct cognition of sensual objects can also be understood as an inner view, as a direct grasp of mental states and processes.
Klaudia Dietewich, we can therefore assume, takes visual phenomena as an occasion to take a position, a standpoint and to communicate her view of the world. This brings us to Statt (not meaning “City” (Stadt) but “instead”) with double T in the title of the exhibition. It is not only the city, the urban landscape that is always the motif here, that is in the foreground. Behind this play on words is also the desire for a different view, a change of perspective, a point of view that leaves the usual paths.
Which brings us to the next keyword:
Spur also has the meaning of lane. Even here, again with a strong regional reference: in hardly any other city in the vicinity can we currently see more clearly what happens when traffic is forced to constantly look for new lanes. The flow of traffic comes to a standstill, the road becomes an ordeal. And in this reorientation and slowing down, we possibly also perceive the way again in its peculiarity. Way comes from move, meaning a strip in the landscape along which one moves from one place to another. To the keyword path we could also add the keywords movement and journey.
The floor work in this exhibition marks such a path. What looks like the speed of a take-off or landing runway, reduced to a linear order, is actually the result of months of travelling. Klaudia Dietewich cycled around half of Europe, from England via Scandinavia to the Black Sea. It is the slowness of this journey that enables her to see the inconspicuous details that serve here as representatives of all these places, streets and cities. Traces from many places mark a long journey. Movement is also a theme of the video work you see here. Movement, in movement also encounters and at times rudiments of communication. Everything is filmed from a distanced, almost voyeuristic point of view, like a spy or surveillance camera, which virtually forces you to change your view, to change the view you are used to from film aesthetics or from the consciously directed gaze.
Are Klaudia Dietewich's works, in their enigmatic foreshortening, signs?
A sign always stands for something else. It is something that can be seen or heard, that is intended as a reference, that serves to make something recognisable, that is linked to a meaning.
However, we can also open up this exhibition for ourselves if we know nothing of all these references and connections. All these works always have an effect, and I already emphasised this at the beginning, through their aesthetic appeal alone.
This brings us to the last keyword:
Regardless of the technical execution, the photographs transferred to aluminium plates by means of pigment printing, which creates this specific metallic sheen, the actual artistic work of Klaudia Dietewich, apart from the conceptual development inherent in the motifs and their presentation, consists in the selection of image details and their arrangement. Here, the objects on the wall and floor ultimately do not differ from painting in their principles of composition. The weighting of the individual pictorial elements, the dynamics or statics of the directions in the pictorial objects, the use of colours, which gain in importance precisely in their reduction - so much so that a yellow found object measuring just 30 cm was tried out in all possible places during the construction of the exhibition, only to be finally taken down again because its effect was too dominant - these formal design elements form the actual framework on which the contents, which I have pursued somewhat associatively in my explanations, are securely supported.
Ocular Alphabets, or
Hunting the Unheeded
Emblems, logos, and pictographs flank our daily urban life. Abbreviated, easily comprehensible symbols, their purpose is to help travelers – usually motorized – reach their destinations as efficiently as possible. With apparent reliability, the automatic trip planner or other navigator takes us to our destinations, even if we don’t understand the individual symbols in the jungle of signs. Self-optimized, our heads held high, we move through an ever more streamlined world like an arrow, forgetting distances, time, finity – everything is shiny, so wonderfully new.
Klaudia Dietewich has chosen a different approach. With documentary precision, eyes peeled to the ground, she consciously registers the characteristics of the tangible surfaces she travels on foot or by bicycle: streets and facades, asphalt and concrete, glass bricks and other materials. Most of us pay little or no attention to the ground we walk or drive on. Regardless of whether it is new or covered in potholes, light gray or pitch black, it is merely a means to an end – namely, to get us from here to there. Klaudia Dietewich, on the other hand, devotes a good deal more attention to her subject, as manifested in her photographs.
The first use of every newly resurfaced pavement or public space inevitably begins the process of erosion and damage. In the course of time, the once flawless surfaces are subjected to markings, which can be read as an archeology of the quotidian, conveying information about contemporary users and their environment. Beyond the socially critical examination, however, Klaudia Dietewich focuses on the aesthetic qualities of the easily overlooked or unheeded, translating her subjects into complex visual systems.
By no means is a street just a street, nor asphalt merely asphalt, nor is a runway just a runway in these systems. Layers have been juxtaposed, damaged surfaces have been repaired or patched, porously grainy surfaces offset reflective slickness. Road markings, the accidentally buried, the faded, and the lost give rise to a variety of tonal values and – as is the case with all that is inexpressible – an enchantingly beautiful calligraphy of the makeshift. Once we have grasped the artist’s visual language in these images, we quickly recognize the topographies from which they are taken. The often extreme close-ups of details – if we are so inclined to contemplate them – impressively reveal the apparent omnipresence of markings wherever we go. Klaudia Dietewich’s images make us conscious of these ubiquitous signs spread out so obviously beneath us, like an ongoing text.
These accidental lineaments feed our imagination with their variations and abundance of forms in unforeseen ways. Streaks, blobs, marbled washes, tears, scratches, chips, uniform mesh structures, or unruly gestural scribbles and imprints attain their highest pictorial expression, however, only after Klaudia Dietewich has subjected them to the hermetic focus of her observation – not unlike scientific specimens. In this way, she not only raises the easily overlooked or the incidental to art, divesting herself without further ado of the functionalization of materials and surfaces in the process. By completely concentrating on pure form, the commitment to line, the radiance of color, she also frees her subjects from their origins – and thus from any contextual anecdote or individual biography.
While one may concede a certain historical contamination of public spaces – after all, streets will have been traveled countless times, paths repeatedly trod – these places nevertheless must be considered of no historical importance whatsoever. Unconditionally inferring a functional context, it makes no difference whether the primary stains, planes, or hatchings were inflicted by road works. Nor does it matter that these traces delineate skid marks or the remains of a wild animal struck by a car, or signs of societally proscribed environmental destruction. In Klaudia Dietewich’s images, they have been transformed into self-referential elements of more or less nonrepresentational compositions, irresistably captivating us with their manifold associations.
In view of the many strangers, vehicles, machines, tires and rubber soles, incidents and accidents that have left their marks on areas and buildings, it is ultimately the passage of time that makes these visual treasures possible. In terms of the this oeuvre’s art historical context, parallels to social sculpture (albeit two-dimensional) come to mind; at the very least, one might speak of a quasi-participatory concept. But, on the contrary, Klaudia Dietewich’s works fascinate in their ambiguity: we cannot tell if or how much of the images were purposefully created by the artist, how much was an accident of climate or weathering, forces of nature or technology. Her ”Along the Way” series, in particular, appears not to have been authored by a human hand, thereby attain an iconic transcendence.
Even the road markings, obviously created by individuals, take on the character of timeless secret codes. At times, faded asphalt tatoos may suggest remnants of the past, or perhaps they merely impart banal instructions (measuring points, drilling sites, dimensional data, or directional arrows for road construction), whose meaning and purpose can no longer be deduced (at least by lay persons). At other times, personal watchwords – whose authors remain as nameless as their addressees – leave behind, at most, a vague idea of what was said or meant. Especially the publicly displayed proclamations usually express easily understandable and universally applicable instructions, commandments and prohibitions, significant messages, or other types of advertising.
Thus the individual fragment, character, paint dab, or line gains autonomy when the unheeded incidental is declared to be essential, even deemed predestined for depiction. Beyond the popular points of interests, which merely take us on the beaten paths of convention to the familiar, the paths and places Klaudia Dietewich has purposefully sought out and explored appear as memorials – reminding us to stop and behold, inciting both the artist and the public to continue to explore. Weaned from the familiar with respect to perspective, pace, and angle, we perceive the microscopic close-ups as exotic narrative landscapes that, in turn, appear to be fed by the diversity of shapes found in the quotidian.
The change of perspective – looking down on the planes of the ground, reversed in the camera’s view, and subsequently transformed into broad horizons during the printing process — additionally reinforces the extraordinary spatial depths characterizing these works. Initially drawn by the strong tactile-sensual qualities, the viewer is tempted to touch the smooth, rough, sandy, or metallic shimmer. The carefully selected details, vantage points, and enlargements of seemingly multilayered materials all contribute to extraordinary spacial arrangements. Unexpectedly, the close-ups of the actual subjects portrayed – compressed layers of road surfaces or water-damaged building facades – evoke a painterly panorama, seamlessly continuing the centuries’ old tradition of landscape painting. Thus lapidary levitation gives rise to naturally resistant vegetative ciphers, which throw a new light on the celestial streets and other so-called imponderabilities surrounding us.
Clemens Ottnad, Stuttgart, 2016
Architektenkammer Baden-Württemberg/Stuttgart, 21. September 2010
In her invitation text to this exhibition by Klaudia Dietewich, Ladies and Gentlemen, Carmen Mundorff speaks of holiday pictures of a somewhat different kind. Please allow me to linger on this topic for a moment and ask you: Have you been away this summer, this early autumn? In the sense of: I'm off then? Have you been away? Were you on holiday?
As we all know, travelling is one of those things. It is fair to say that the last true French traveller was Henri Beyle, who wrote a number of novels under the name Stendhal, which are counted among world literature, and who travelled in the wake of Napoleon Bonaparte through, among other places, northern Italy, not least the region around Lake Como. There, where Stendhal, as an adventurer, bon vivant and kindred spirit of Goethe, went in search of clues, got to know the country and its people, visited the nobility of the region on their estates, in their villas, lived with them, lodged with them and celebrated lavish parties with them, only a few decades later, Gustave Flaubert merely visited sight after sight, ticking them off, rattling them off, in a sense "doing" Upper Italy the way we nowadays "do" South America or Australia in our summer vacations, which are no longer vacations. In short, the traveller has long been replaced by the tourist.
For some years now, of course, we have known that the beach is not only at the crowded Teutonic Grill between Rimini and Caorle, but also just around the corner, under the pavement or under the asphalt, and so it is a good thing that Klaudia Dietewich takes us by the hand with her "Aufsichten", with her photographs, and invites us to a search for traces, to a visual journey of a very special kind.
Because travelling, as the artist proves with her work, is still possible today if you want to. You just have to disregard Goethe's good old maxim "you only see what you know" and make unbiased, fresh use of your eyes, which, as an aside, is not entirely unimportant for assessing architectural questions. For ultimately, the reverse is equally true: You only know what you see or what you have seen.
But back to Klaudia Dietewich and her work. Ms Dietewich is a passionate traveller, only she does not travel as a package tourist by plane, train, ship, bus or car. Nor does she focus her gaze on the face of cities, seascapes, landscapes or on other so-called sights that one has to know as a tourist or tourist, but strictly downwards on seemingly trivial things, on what usually literally goes under the radar.
The artist is a passionate cyclist who consciously and enthusiastically exposes herself again and again to wind and weather, sun and rain, and who has already crossed half of Europe on her bicycle, from Portugal to Scandinavia and Poland. On such journeys, she looks into the face of the road, she photographs the roads she is on with her digital camera, she records road traces, deformations of the pavement, grooves, scratches, discolourations, paintings, etc., and in so doing does not really do anything other than what the first-person narrator describes at the beginning of Martin Mosebach's new, extremely readable novel as follows (and I quote): "Pursuing traces, collecting circumstantial evidence in order to form from it a picture of hidden processes, fantasising myself into hidden relationships that only come to the surface of reality in tiny shocks, that was my irresponsible and, of course, completely haphazardly pursued pleasure." (end of quote)
However, the artist does not proceed haphazardly. "Since time immemorial," says Klaudia Dietewich, "roads have been the lifelines of every society, of every civilisation. But the streets I drive along are not only functional carriers, they are above all a central arena of life. This is where encounters, collisions, accidents happen; dramas and stories play out, life itself. Streets are a mirror of life. And streets change, they wear out, they are damaged, repaired, painted, marked. Traces are found here, transient traces of human presence, snapshots that change continuously, that fade, that disappear again more or less quickly. Traces that reveal something about their originator, that tell stories and create images of the places where they were found."
The street, then, as mirror and stage, and the photographer as storyteller. La strada: It is surprising that it did not become a central theme of the visual arts much earlier. But if streets are scenes of life, lifelines in which our existence pulsates and pulsates down to the capillaries, then Klaudia Dietewich's photographic journeys by bicycle can certainly be understood as a life journey (in the literal sense) on which she traces life itself: the life of our society, of a collective, but also of countless individuals.
But being on the road is not enough. Back home, the artist then begins to edit her travel souvenirs, the digital photos, changing them by the choice of cropping and the degree of enlargement. Finally, they are transferred to metal plates. The photographic objèts trouvés are thus transformed into works of art. By transforming the seemingly banal, crude photographic finds, Ms Dietewich gives them a new quality. Reality is distanced, abstracted, patches and stains, scratches and scrawls become structures, graphic poetry emerges, which is certainly anything but meaningless.
The existential substrate, the street with all its traces of human existence and suchness, always remains implicit, and so Klaudia Dietewich's work not only invites us to take a journey in our minds, to follow traces, however inconspicuous and small; not only does the artist invite us to gather quasi-criminalistic clues so that we can form a picture of hidden processes, but, and this is perhaps the most important aspect of her work, she suggests that, like Marcel Proust, we embark on a search for lost time by exposing ourselves to the graphic traces in her images. At the same time, her photographic journeys empower us to travel through time.
Or perhaps the spark will jump directly to us and, in a second step, we will be inspired by her works - in our minds or in reality - to once again walk or drive the streets of our childhood and youth with alert eyes. Just as Proust finds lost time primarily on the faces of his acquaintances and friends destroyed by it, who have become old men, Klaudia Dietewich's photographs are also - among many other things - an exercise in the awareness of transience. For what could be more ephemeral than the face of the streets, than the traces we leave behind day in and day out on the roads of this world in encounters, pile-ups, on journeys or just on the way home: skid marks, blood, the abrasion of our tyres or the chalk we used as children in the game of heaven and hell?
So when Klaudia Dietewich ultimately focuses on the transience, the fleetingness of our life's journey and our own vulnerability, she simultaneously sharpens our eyes for the value of the moment, for the joy of existence. Her work gives us insights into ourselves. Dealing with her work gives us - as surprising as this may seem - in the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, whose 150th anniversary of death we are celebrating today, a bit of "ourselves back". Thank you!
Dr. Jürgen Glocker, Kulturreferent Landkreis Waldshut
Der Traum vom Raum.
Klaudia Dietewich, Galerie des Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museums Duisburg-Rheinhausen 2015
From time to time and in the most diverse places, images force themselves into the eye, into the brain stem, into the speech centre - these images that dream of space. Of transporting people from the plane into the depths of hitherto marginalised and therefore unknown worlds, thus into the third dimension. These people should be allowed to send their eyes on a journey, to determine their own perspective, to look at the environment that is always there and yet so foreign, to let themselves be carried away by the adventure of seeing. In her photographic works, Klaudia Dietewich sets out on these visual paths, and only fundamentalists would be surprised that these take-offs into space start from such a fundamental and flat starting point: flat in the sense of low (which topographically already leads us to the run-out area of the Rhine and Ruhr), but also flat in the sense of banal.
For Klaudia Dietewich's pictorial work is initially about little more than - ground coverings. Road damage, holes and craters in urban surfaces, repair work, asphalt pigments, tar fillings. Amalgamated user surfaces for our feet and vehicles. Always so inaccurate, always patchwork, refusing any aesthetic added value, mocking any civil engineering master plan, pure aleatory. An improvisation abandoned by the idea of a system, thrown upon itself. So incalculable and makeshift, so unnoticed and fleeting, that the titles themselves still have to note the photographic jour fixe: Bochum, Hannover Colliery, 5 August 2014, 1:44 pm; Marl, Römerstraße, 8 August 2014, 2:26 pm; Duisburg, Karl Lehr Bridge, 1 August 2014, 5:40 pm. Incidental, overlooked things thus become at least an accounting statistic.
If you like, you can take the motifs of the brittle and the broken, the deformed and the makeshift patched up as relics and trace elements, as signals and indications of paths already travelled, sometimes purposefully, sometimes erroneously, soon broken off, soon redeemed. Those who like can also discover a new beauty in these motifs, namely that of the deficient, the superficial, the ephemeral, which is fed by their parallels to our human condition. If you like, you can interpret those motifs metaphorically as the transformability and need for change of life itself. Be that as it may, those interpreters of images are in any case on protected ground, for the artist's self-perception also claims her exhibited work in this or a similar way. And those who prefer pictorial history naturally call to mind the trace conservators of the modern avant-garde, whose revolutionary treatment of materials and subjects formerly remote from art has long since drawn in its own clusters of traces, from Max Ernst's frottages to the pictorial concepts of Suprematism to Jean Tinguely's Métamatics, and will probably not find an end for a long time to come in the so-called Land Art of an Andy Goldsworthy or a Richard Long. Attention has already been drawn to these parallels to Klaudia Dietewich's work in various parts of the catalogue.
If, however, the dream of space is to be imagined further, reference should now be made to the artistic design and presentation of the photograph, which in Klaudia Dietewich's work always has an aesthetic meta-level (precisely those promised by the title of the exhibition, "über wege - über reste - über tage"), a surplus and excess, as it were, and it is precisely in this that the spatialisation of the image is achieved. The camera records - in at least two senses - the motif laid on the ground floor and transfers it - adjusted in size, detail, colour and focus and bound on Alu-Dibond - to the wall, i.e. into the orthogonal. The dense hanging of objects of the same format in turn provides the scalar multiplication that now adds an applicative axis to the image discovered and taken up on the horizontal abscissa axis and opens up an entire vector space. Klaudia Dietewich also prefers to apply this principle of analytical geometry where she places the image on the upward-facing partial surface of a cube or cuboid and thus underpins it three-dimensionally. Assemblages of these pictorial bodies then mark out a road map on which the former floor rubbings are reformed as now authenticated and identity-creating landmarks and 'path pieces', where they sometimes also reveal themselves as 're-routes'.
Patchwork, wallpaper patterns, links and fragments of lived life as a multiversal event of anthropological relevance. As when the universe blows bubbles. Flat in the sense of low, flat in the sense of banal, but anything but a flat pictorial conception. One might already think of Stephen Hopkins' science fiction classic Lost in Space from 1998, although Klaudia Dietewich would certainly have her own film loops on offer: Céreste (2009), Tempelhof (2010), Café Immortale (2011) or Underground (2014).
But from the video installation back to the room installation: for her cycle Heaven and Hell, the artist even takes the motif material from the basement (or, as we say in our latitudes: underground). The result is a composition of images from the former sintering hall of the ironworks in Völten, Saarland, which went into operation in 1873 and was closed down in 1986. in Völklingen in the Saarland, the so-called Völklingen Ironworks. Sinter is formed by the crystallisation of minerals dissolved in water; in this case it is the iron oxide mixture that is formed in the steel industry when hot steel surfaces come into contact with spray water. Klaudia Dietewich choreographs these rust particles into nine ceiling-high pigment prints on translucent backlit sheets, which she arranges like the stained-glass windows of a cathedral apse. But if the Gothic cathedral was an architectural signifier of the Christian world of ideas, Klaudia Dietewich's photographic position has neither an image-logical nor a salvation-historical linearium. The narrative is entirely reserved for the rust deposit that refers to sintering itself, and thus to the production of materials; in this case, to the production of steel helmets for the German soldiers of the First World War. In artistic unity with the Bach chorale O Eternity, Thou Word of Thunder and the machine noise of the sintering hall that drowns it out, a medial synopsis develops at times that encloses the suggested church space more infernally than heavenly. But is Klaudia Dietewich really concerned with historical realism?
It just struck me that you, ladies and gentlemen, have not had anything to laugh about so far, although my exhibition opening speeches, also here in Rheinhausen, have the reputation of being humorous at times. But firstly, humour is not only comedy or mystery, but has an indispensable wishful, dreamlike, even phantasmagorical appeal, an illusionary space into which man is abducted, entangled, in which he wants to be deceived, even cheated and betrayed, perhaps in order to be able to endure real life at all; and secondly - it may yet come to something.
The third chapter of this exhibition could perhaps give rise to such laughter. On two thin stainless steel plates of 150 x 50 cm, titled Paris, Rue Clotilde, 3 April 2013, 3:15 p.m., at a height of less than half a metre, a nature "regarde le ciel" is written in blue script (in the Windows universe it is called 'artist script'!). It is certainly not without a certain humour that passers-by, in order to become aware of this invitation, must first lower their gaze to the ground instead of looking up to the sky. Inevitably, Magritte's famous painting comes to mind, which provides a hyper-realistically painted, almost stylised pipe with the subscription: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe." The work from 1929 is entitled La trahison des images, and it is precisely this betrayal of images that is at issue. For the artistic representation is not, of course, an actual pipe that can be stopped, smoked and cleaned, but an oil painting of a pipe that is not identical with its object, in short: in art as in 'real life', thing and sign can completely fly apart (a circumstance, incidentally, that already influenced the literary figures of the 18th century, notably Jean Paul). In short: in art as in 'real life', thing and sign can completely fly apart (a fact, by the way, that already troubled the literary figures of the 18th century, notably Jean Paul), a surrealistic psychology belongs to the work of art that makes the viewer, misinterpreting his sensory perception and deluding himself in a wishful dream, experience what is depicted as reality.
Of course, the vertigo effect (named after Hitchcock's unsurpassed film epic) could also be thrown in here, demonstrating the compulsion and the dizzying compulsiveness of that play with identities, in which the image can live on as an illusion without having to take note of, or even being allowed to, its long-faded or blurred reality.
Where Magritte and Hitchcock explored the network of relationships between an object, its designation and its representation, confronting the viewer with the barely fragile reality of an object. confront the viewer with the barely more than fragile reality of an object, in Klaudia Dietewich's work the punch line is just around the corner. Her photography captures the traces and clues of the motif and lists them, her photography directs the viewer's gaze, her photography weaves stories into a narrative that cannot leave the viewer cold and rather animates him, almost forces him, to believe its random artifice is real and true. In this way, the artist tells something about photography itself, about the manipulability of seeing, and not least about the seductiveness of its viewer, in a way that is no longer banal but sophisticated. And, taking up the dream of the literary 18th century in a new media-technical look, she tells us a lot about the metaphorical limbo of the image between its definiteness and robustness in reality and its fictional and somnambulistic abundance as an illusion.
As a reminder: Klaudia Dietewich's paintings dream the transversal and play-driven psychological dream of space, which in this way translates it and itself into reality (Greek meta-phoréō: to transmit, translate, transport, extend): over paths – over rest – over days. Right under their feet: the abyss of hell. The sky, however, already begins at knee level. Now, ladies and gentlemen, you can really laugh loudly.
Dr. Thomas Maier, Kleve, 2015