Christian Eisenberger: IMG3171PSD
10 December 2010 – 04 February 2011
Opening: 9 December 2010, 7 pm
Christian Eisenberger is scanty with words and rich with ideas. He is one who reaches into life clear past the elbows. The pool, out of which he creates, is endless, for this pool is nothing less than the world in all its parts. Eisenberger practices his art, namely, in earnest (as opposed to “ironically”) as an appropriation of the world in which he uses and transforms what a place offers, a place that others might not even give a second glance. It is a world of simple things, beyond its use- and exchange value, a chaotic universe made of packages, pornographic images, incense sticks, circulated postcards, worn-out vinyl records, pinecones, suspenders left lying around, ultrasound images of fetuses, pictures of his grandfather and of Marilyn Monroe, tape en masse, hair cuttings from the hairdresser, comments from passers-by and every kind of color; in a nutshell, everything that there is serves as his material. Well, for what use? For new elements of the world that belongs to art’s distribution system: odd stuff like cement sausage dogs on deer legs, Christian crosses and David – the communist star made of water scales – “Guten Morgen” greetings made of cow dung, tape-constructed cocoons, which he slips out of, shedding it like an old skin, in accord with his daily metamorphosis as artist.
Transience, fragility, the ephemeral, that which self-adjusts, are apparent as essential qualities of many of his artworks: with the cardboard figures for which collectors competed with the orange-suited municipal trash collectors, the human tape cocoons, which gradually collapse inwardly, the more or less burned smoke drawings, the absolutely useless gallows of shaving cream and neon rods or the zombie pictures of silicon and paints, which for weeks were exposed to the weathering and fauna of his garden. The artist speaks of the picture series of ghoul heads that he began in 2008, the corpses that continue to live as “zombies,” whose facial features slowly melt away through the aging process of the painting. “Lemures,” is the term that Franz West uses for his ghoul heads with wide open mouths and believes that there are throngs of them in the city. And at least as many Dorian Grays.
Wherever Eisenberger may go, he finds the material for his works already there. He always takes it from his direct environment. Whether in nature or the train station, everything that is handy is used, transformed. That is why all labels such as “Land art” or “Street art” come up short, because Eisenberger’s steadfast, artistic show of strength, even his daily studio work, carries the character of an ongoing performance, in which the working process becomes more important than the result. The artist works often in series, experiments with ideas and materials until he has become weary of them and allows his works to become increasingly loose and unformed. In his exhibitions he likes to recall earlier formations, to vary and recombine them, thereby going to the borders of resilience of both the material and the artist. In 2008 he built an observation tower into the Viennafair using tape and filigree wood slats and invited visitors to contribute all of their physical input to follow him up to the dizzying heights.
What is it that differentiates Eisenberger’s transient depictions from historical vanitas images. For one, the passing of time is traditionally seen through the mirror of existing, yet decrepit beauty. This aspect is unknown in Eisenberger’s work. A second facet likewise remains undone, namely, the intentional catharsis of human wantonness by turning to belief and religious indoctrination. The paradox in the historical vanitas depictions is the presence of absence, the persistence of the past, from which the image as an object is also not excepted. How many generations have the apocalyptic riders, the ships of fools, the plague columns, and the still-lifes with skulls already survived as reminders of death? The art of permanently capturing transience remains an “as-if,” remains a trompe-l’œil of that which passes on. Eisenberger does not stop at this. His depictions of transience mostly fade away themselves. Who knows how long the materials with which he works will last? Much of it is, as we have seen, ultimately intended only for the moment. Other things have a somewhat longer half-life but the predictable deterioration lies in the nature of his art. Is there possibly an ironic volt of the artist after all, vis-à-vis those who wish for the eternal through owning his work? No, because Eisenberger’s art consists in taking the deterioration seriously – not restoring, not retrospectively touching up – rather, arriving at the titanic composure that resonates in the saying, “it is what it is.”
Text: Martin Titz, Graz 2010.