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MATTHIAS HERRMANN | IS THAT HOW IT IS?

Is That How It Is?

Of course, that's not how it is. These images tell us more about what we don't see than about the things they reveal. They are strangely taciturn, inarticulate, closemouthed; despite their rich colors, they are silent, almost mute. Something is missing and, naturally, one is inclined to think that man as a body (of meaning, of attribution, or one that simply wears clothing) is the missing element. That is not the case, however: The impression of fleeting images, of an vacant center is created by the manner in which Marko Zink arranges his images, the play of presence and absence he presents us with – and not by what we see or cannot see at any given moment. We are faced with compositions in a classic sense that seem to point us to a subject, which is, however, not or no longer present. The movement of water endows floating apparel with fleeting volume; this seems to suggest a body, it has just taken off its clothes right there, it appears the shoes standing at the bottom have been taken off only minutes ago. Zink appeals to our imagination – in a manner we have come to expect from painters but hardly from photographers. Pieces of clothing appear in the ocean as a shimmering whir. Much like the visual illusions of a mirage, they appear only to disappear an instant later.

Was there something there?

A wink, short as a camera's exposure time. Like afterimages, these photographs stick to the synapses of our world of images. As soon as the eye, the lens opens again, everything has changed. Pieces of clothing have drifted on; naked bodies are now hidden behind a tree or revealed in a fashion that suggests an altogether different story. The partly concealed bodies in the forest, too, seem to refer us more to an absence than to a presence. I am hardly present – and even if I would amount to more, this would not be about my ego. The fact that it is the artist himself who is playing hide-and-seek with us plays only a minor role when it comes to the reception of his works. Nevertheless, he thus refers to an art-historical canon, which carries significance, above all, for artistic photography from the 1960s and 70s and invests these works with a history that does not limit their scope but broadens it. Mr. Zink uses analog photography and pre-cooked the films for his „Wald Zwei" („Forest Two") series at 100 degrees Celsius and then further manipulated it, and this, too, is more a cross-reference to classic conceptual strategies from the history of photography than an ideologically charged argument about techniques of discourse.

That's how it is.

Even the naked forest doesn't let the restless eye gain a foothold. Emptiness, no retreat for romantic feelings. Almost nothing; no place, nowhere. Here, the forest doesn't summarize but disintegrates, frays. Images have outlived their usefulness as projection surfaces for things we are otherwise unable to feel, think, or experience. Zink is not out to enchant (us), the artist tersely states how and what it is. Nevertheless, this is a world that does not lay claim to an independent reality and at no time seeks to create the impression of a reality that exists independent of the artist and his ideas. It is because we are faced with situations that only acquire concreteness and reality through the artist, that are staged and therefore not real, without, however, overworking the notion of staging: This highly intelligent play on reality and staging, reality and imitation, presence and absence accounts for the quality of these artworks.

 

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