Soft Cover, German, Glue Binding, 168 Pages, 1993
Parkett No. 36 / 1993
Mondrian sighted in front of Matisse at MOMA As if it had suddenly stepped off the wall of the museum, a Mondrian—in the form of a coat worn by a woman—strolls through the Matisse exhibition at MOMA (the classic art event of the past winter): Thus does Mondrian steal his way into the show of his colleague.
We are reminded of Sophie Calle’s GHOSTS (1991/92), ap¬pearing in the same museum at the exhi¬bition DisLocations. The artist asked the entire museum staff—from director to guards and cleaners—for descriptions of paintings that she had removed from the walls. Through the commentaries thus garnered, she professed her interest in personal connotations, in recollection and perception on the opposite shore of art history.
Both Sophie Calle and Stephan Balkenhol—our collaborating artists in this issue—develop their works as if to bring the outside world into art through the emphatic yet impassive involvement of other human beings. However one might say that the focus of Calle’s interest is actually that terrain which Balkenhol assiduously avoids.
Take dress, for instance: Balkenhol, though lovingly typifying the individuality of his figures’ garb, seeks utmost simplicity and ordinariness; Calle, on the other hand, pays meticulous attention to detail. Her edition for Parkett represents the first of the tastefully selected articles of clothing that she has been sending to a badly dressed but attractive man whose image she intends to remold according to her fantasy.
People, animals, and mythical beasts populate Stephan Balkenhol’s world of figures—but no children as the sculptures themselves might be regarded as an implementation of the child’s gaze upon the elementary. This resembles the “tactile gaze” that Joseph Grigely introduces in reference to Sophie Calle’s work THE BLIND. Here it has become an act of liberation from the burden of lost innocence, as in Sophie Calle’s “wedding picture” on the preceding page which enacts the rite de passage on a higher level.