Wisse das Bild
"Wisse das Bild" is the title of Lars Ulrich Schackenberg's latest project, presented in 2013 at the Kunstverein Linz am Rhein. The work from 2013 is a multipart cycle, mixed media as digital print on acrylic. It's structured so that all images are seen twice: once in the version treated by the artist and a second time mirrored through the window, captured by Thilo Beu's photography. This premise already promises an invitation to a deeper and comparative viewing. Indeed, the imperative character of these images is very strong, far removed from the artist's earlier works.
Additionally, the artist incorporates literary texts crucial for interpreting the images. The work is very complex. Friedrich Rückert's poem "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" rhymes the connection between the world and the individual, who has already wasted so much time with it—a hint at the artist's thinking, formulating his current position regarding society, his field of work, and, most importantly, in relation to himself. He has withdrawn from socio-political and utopian struggles, no longer reading socio-political books, art histories, or other scholarly dissertations; instead, he reads science fiction novels, searching for another world, embracing the truth of fairy tales because while they may not change realities, their truths can certainly influence the thoughts and feelings of individuals.
These works have emerged from this meditative path, now entering public discussion, necessitating not just the observer's participation but also their introspection. The cycle's title is found in Rainer Maria Rilke's 'Sonnets to Orpheus,' written in 1922 as a memorial for Wera Ouckama Knoop in Chateau de Muzot in the Swiss Rhône Valley. The ninth sonnet reads: "Even when the reflection in the pond/often blurs for us:/Know the image." With this guideline, Schnackenberg follows his image tracks, connecting them with the past of his previous pictures and exhibitions. An infinitely large reservoir of memories, both personal and stored in his computer files and treasures of television archives, serves him. For each personal memory, he finds the fitting image, manipulating it towards the right memory, now 'obscured' and slightly distorted by the reflection, starting a new dialogic life that, in the rational and emotional conversation of the two partners, elucidates the actual mental statements.
Rilke's subsequent text states: "Only in the realm of duality/do voices/become eternal and mild." This duality is always a representational event for artists not adhering to a rigid concept; it's the 'parallel action' of which Robert Musil speaks in 'The Man Without Qualities' in 1930. A parallel action to life, aiming to enable insights and changes as a legitimate guiding principle. It's the quest for the 'alter ego' as the most crucial conversation partner in life. But it also signifies a retreat to oneself. Today, we must learn to distinguish reality from virtual worlds; we, who no longer know who influences us more, reality or the virtual realities that undoubtedly influence younger generations more than older guardians, who have an obligation to make their children flexible and imaginative for the future.
The cycle speaks of this as well, the artist breaking out of his hoped-for fairy-tale world to take the forward-looking path, albeit without any pedagogical finger-pointing. The playful nature in dealing with the images always remains. "You can leave your hat on," sings Joe Cocker in a TV clip, also subjected to reflection. "The Rolling Stones' Worldview" shows how the fever for new music has conquered the world and the heart of the young visual artist. Each individual work with its reflection reveals the artist's thoughts, also integrating very early sketches by the searching artist into the new imagery, as in "Worldview Theater," where, as in "Worldview Vision," earlier representations are interwoven with today's. The cycle displays a progression, a chronological but illogical journey through life. Yet, the framework is set in a way that never allows an illustration to emerge, but rather maintains free play and allows stimulating imagination to act. The opening image titled after Rückert's first sentence, "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen," unfolds a broad panorama of the journey through life. A figure with a coat hanging over their shoulders enters the picture from the left and right. Both are bordered by reflecting architecture, and in the middle, we see image fields with women's faces. Above this, a world of architecture and nature, of built and fleeting cloud formations, metaphorical indications of the artist's portrayal of our world, which, as "Worldview Extinction," can also reveal the fragility of female heads and blurred architectural relationships: the uncertainty of our self-built spaces. The first image is also the resumption and alteration of a work from 2003, "Virtual Stories 4," paper and wax on canvas, in five parts, where the individual motifs are much more realistically elaborated (L.-U.Schnackenberg: Moments, Gallery Acht P! Pravato, Bonn, 2004, Cat. P.21). With the world images, the artist also discusses his previous work and exhibitions as a work in progress. In this catalog, I write about "Realism as a Critical Method" (p. 6). Martin Seidel explains, "Schnackenberg's images are not discursive treatises; they are visual poems" (ibid., p. 26). The circumstances shift. Therefore, it is not surprising that in "Worldview Theater," the world map is not a Eurocentric representation but shows North and South America in the middle axis, accompanied by obscure, quirky airborne devices that carry something animalistic yet encourage travel into the realms of fantasy. The background of all world images is a world map, more or less visible, protruding forward as if from marbling, offering the viewer many additional orientation options through the possible assignment of places, countries, continents. It represents (know the image!), the image of places with their respective circumstances, through which the artist addresses the various questions of cultural context, societal, and political conditions.
The artist, who studied and taught sculpture, now no longer forms individual pieces but consistently continues his path, which began well over a decade and a half ago, into the media adventures. Visitors enter a truly multilayered world. The images are perfectly composed in montage technique after a long, searching process. They are arrangements that immediately captivate the viewer, especially as they see themselves in the reflective surfaces of the images, thus being immediately involved. The principle of reflection is an infinite realization that plays with the idea that an image determines and is determined by spaces, that an image can take in additional information through reflections, not just through reflections but also through the conversations it leads. An image is never finished but is only of high quality when it can initiate dialogues, of which the artist, before presenting the image to the public, can know nothing. Schnackenberg's images fulfill this charge through these extra-pictorial processes to a great extent. This demonstrates that the imperative character is an elemental part of the images, ultimately reflecting the artist himself.
Reflection always extends both space and perspective. It allows for a different distancing. In his philosophical contemplations on art in the Berlin Simmel Lectures, philosopher Dieter Henrich reflects on this distancing: "The distance built up through aesthetic contemplation is to be explained as a transformation of this world relationship." (D. Henrich, Essay on Art and Life, Edition Akzente, Munich 2001, p.211) and "The shift in perspective on the world and the ambivalence that can develop between several such perspectives always affects the subject as such. Its origin is withdrawn from it. And the significance of its life can only be revealed to it through a specific occupation of the interpretive space open to it." (ibid., p. 213). The method of critical realism automatically opens up a distance to what is presented, much like Bertolt Brecht's dialectical theater (1898 – 1950), involving the theatergoer in thought.
'Wisse das Bild' is in good company, yet it's so new and different because the artist, in a mental abstracting process, refrains from every illustrative character of his image findings. This pursuit of virtual life edges shows the "Delpasse Effect." The Delpasse Effect refers to neurological investigations into the incomprehensible, the theory of existence at the threshold of death. Schnackenberg does not narrate a scientific mapping of the world, its inventory, or surveying but rather a world where people, in their finiteness, must share reality with their dreams and fairy tales.
Dieter Ronte Bonn, June 2014