Einblicke in die Arbeit ’128’
von Lee Negris
Insights into the work ’128’
by Lee Negris
As part of the project ‚PRÉLUDE -Intervention on site’ at the Kunsthochschule Weißensee, Susanne Weber-Lehrfeld presents her installation and performance titled ’128’ in an attempt to examine the dichotomy of expanse versus confinement, freedom as opposed to restriction within the urban field as well as in an individual psychosocial framework. In a dialogue with the locale at the Warschauer Brücke in front of the East Side Mall in Friedrichshain Berlin, the artist restricts her field of movement to an area of 2×2 meters. The Edge East Side Tower will be one of the highest buildings in Berlin, measuring 140 meters upon completion. Thus the question pertaining to size and relation or scale of architecture to the human body is posed in reference to the site and the spacial restriction within the performance.
This spacial restriction is achieved through the installation of selected phrases taken from Louise Bourgeois diaries comprising of 128 aprox. 20 cm large red letters made of silicone. The text surrounding her during the performance in an amorphous, wavy composition extends over a total surface area of 6×6 meters creating a certain distance to the spectator. In this manor the artist also transports her own patterns of restriction and experiences of judging and being judged. The letters were created by hand over the span of almost two months prior to the performance. The installing and forming of the composition on the floor constituted an action in itself, preceding the actual performance.
Firstly she demands: MAKE THE SPACE EMPTY OF JUDGEMENT. In a next step she states: ONE’S FEARS DRIVE THE WORLD and suggests a constructive and healing approach: DIG THEM OUT/ FACE THEM/ FORCE THEM TO HELP YOU. Lastly she confronts the obliterating feeling of: ANGST NOT TO BE LOVED and invites the viewer to challenge it. (Louise Bourgeois, Tagebucheintrag, in: Bernadac, Marie-Laure, Obrist, Hans-Ulrich. Destruction of the Father, Reconstruction of the Father. Schriften und Interviews 1923 – 2000, Zürich: Ammann Verlag 2001, pg. 77) The confrontation with ones own fears can only take place though releasing crushing judgement leading to heightened self-acceptance. At the same time a metaphor for the act of building itself and a connection to the everlasting change and construction in Berlin is created: to dig up the earth, to face the laws of physics, to force matter into a new shape.
The spacial distance to the spectator is revisited and enhanced through the element and usage of music. Like many people in the public space today the artist is wearing headphones and acoustically separates herself from the environment. The mental overload and feelings of being overpowered by the urban element though sound and speed create an uncertainty, that is simulated though the unfamiliar music that is not audible to the public. With no prior agreement as to the pieces or genes of music Susanne Weber-Lehrfeld receives the sounds selected by artist and contributor Lee Negris directly to the headphones. The artist exposes herself to this unforeseen moment and is willing to endure the arising feelings, translating them into spontaneous i.e. not choreographed movements reacting through the music. The artist is in a state of being with herself and finds her home within. The impulsive reactions and resulting gestures do not always follow the rhythm of the music and testify to a deep and concentrated state of being within the movement.
In this acoustic separation though the music in the headphones, this slight impression of the inner occurrences becomes visible and surpasses rules and conventions unfiltered. An image remains that stands for the uncontrollable factors in life that can only be encountered with mindfulness, reflection and the directing of ones own fears and states of feeling as a survival strategy. At the same time the distance and disjointed nature of the human encounters in the public sphere is embodied. The viewer is confronted with this frustration by having to endure the movements without the music. Through the loss of the common frame of reference in form of music there is a factor of irritation that invites the viewer to formulate their own thoughts.
During the beginning of the performance the artist reaches the plaza in front of the mall by way of a large staircase leading form the lower street level to the level above. The steep concrete steps form a bridge between the daily and mundane toward a dedicated space of reflection. The duration and intensity of the movement varies according to mood, physical condition, as well as time of day and weather and once again underlines performance as ephemeral and unique.