Maria Kreutzer

Encounters between thought and extension

You hear and see the breaking of a windowpane. You see the hole in the glass. Then, after a time lag, you see the stone, a stone, that was the cause, a cause. But what cause or effect preceded the event? This is the central question which lies at the base of all of these works and which finally becomes the focus of the last piece presented in this catalogue „RaumSteinZeitScheibe“ [SpaceStoneTimePane] where in the absence of any visible subject nothing is to be perceived but an albeit vehement encounter of things.

Silvia Erdem is intrigued by physics of things and her video presentations are inspired by the idea of a liberation from the physical in space and time. But unlike in science, any such attempt here remains strongly attached to the physical-mental.  It is this tension that makes Silvia Erdem‘s work so forceful. Her video presentation „Sema“ (fig. 3) was produced as a precursor to „Walk-in“ and „Walk-in, self-turning painting“ (fig. 1 and 2) but should be regarded as a piece of its own. Central to this work is the creation of a large round container that serves as a walkable space for both the artist and the spectator who ventures into this work.

During the process of painting the artist isolated herself in the Zylinder turning round and round like a dervish. She held brushes and other painting instruments in her extended arms and legs and unintentionally struck the surface of the cylinder covered with paper and transparent foil. After this physically demanding painting performance the container is fixed at the ceiling so that it hangs just above to the floor and it is rotated by an engine. For the spectator who enters the visual space the painting created by the rotating artist and its own rotation.

Silvia Erdem has been working with photography and video for several years. The internal logic of the artist’s development becomes quite obvious when we look at her first pieces which in their seismographic gestures and brushwork show a strong affinity towards Informal and Action Painting. The piece of work mentioned first is especially interesting in this respect since it clearly foreshadows her breaking with drawing and painting and her later involvement with the „new media“.

From this point of view the video animation „Sema“ may be regarded as the virtual correlate to „Walk in, self-turning painting“. A container made from transparent foil and drawn upon was chosen as the starting point for a video take. The later projection into open space not only disfigures the strokes and lines but also dematerializes or seemingly dematerializes the round shape itself. Lines start leading a life of their own, exploding, imploding, falling out of shape.

The video „Negation“ presents sections of a female figure (the artist herself) from head to waist, swinging to and fro, sometimes head on top, sometimes topsy-turvy. It is irritating at first sight that the swinging hair in contradiction to the usual upright position of human beings is pointing upwards. Only at second glance do you recognize that this effect is due to a retrogressive videoprojection showing a mirror image of the real swinging (head downwards).

Just as up and down cancel one another, interior and exterior abolish one another for the ego. With the help of permanent rotation or the reversal of up and down respectively the artist attempts a kind of „dematerialization“ and de-individualization of herself. Due to this movement of self-exteriorization all interior and exterior remains equally distant to the ego. It remains in a phantasmic middle space, real and virtual at the same time. This holds true for the real swinging from the trapeze which remains bounded by a circle as well as for the video-taped painted and marked virtual cylinder that devoid of all human beings outlines an imaginary sphere and keeps taking on different shapes.

Sphere or circle from the perspective of physics symbolize the most perfect space, but they also seduce us to suppose a centre and thus to a phantasmic concept of space. The centre has been lost to human beings and modern science likewise. The bodily exertion which Silvia Erdem in confrontation with the physical and the non-physical transforms into a kind of energy turned visual or materialized on the pictorial surface – be it foil or paper or video screen –, is not restricted to the round shape. The round shape only serves as a projection surface for the phantasmic centre of the ego which wants to locate itself in space. But dynamic development over time here as in physics is independent of any orientation in space. Silvia Erdem doesn’t force the present to stand still at its most important moment as would typically be the case in painting. Rather by trying to reverse time as she repeatedly does in her video works she grants equal or more importance to the gap, the void, the hole as part of a thing than she does accord to the thing itself.