Marcus Steinweg

Art is resistance to what exists.

Art and philosophy are linked by a kind of geometrification of the incommensurable. The formal statement of art gives its formlessness an outline. It is in the nature of art that its consistency is based on inconsistency. The consistency of a piece is derived from its invisibility. Art is always about creating and defending a visibility that evades any kind of matter of factness. Thus the appearance of a piece is a surprise because its evidence stems from ordering the non-evident. There is art in the moment in which that appearance tears a hole in the texture of fact, clouding the evidence of instituted reality, not through obscurantism or darkening, but through clarity, an excess of evidence that dazzles reason and the senses. The momentum of that dazzle, which demands categories or terms that are not at hand, is the momentum of appearance, the momentum in which the necessity of the piece appears while the subject seeks its motifs. The artwork involves the destruction of that power through clarity, suspending the certainty of the subject, "overriding the real".¹ Art has never been an ally of reality. Art is resistance to what exists. Not in the name of what should be, but in the name of the still nameless portion of established reality. One can name that proportion of the nameless the Real or the Outside. One can say of it that it names the truth of a real situation, a situational historical texture. In the artwork, officialised, recognised realities communicate with that resistance, which names nothing but the incommensurable: the formless that resists being formalised. The work is the location of that necessarily unsuccessful communication.

The work's suspension of its reality and the transcendence of its conditionality require its relationship with reality to be as a field of objective conditions. That relationship can be described as affirmative destruction. A work of art acts in a necessarily destructive way towards its objective reality. It destroys the space of its reality because it gives consistency to an inconsistency, thereby ridding recognised reality of its arbitrariness. These realities are arbitrary – factual evidence – because their consistency is limited to the function of masking an inconsistency and making it tangible, which is universal contingence, chaos. The piece of art cannot assume this function itself because it marks the transition or boundary to inconsistence. That is the location of the piece: the boundary between the order of the facts and the space of a radial disorganisation that is the dimension of the truth of instituted, consolidated realities.

The boundary and therefore the piece of art does not open into a second world in which some kind of sense is more real than "reality". It opens up towards reality in its status of incommensurability. In Lacanian terms: Reality is the real. Only it does not know it and does not wish to know it and cannot know it, because reality is the name of something fundamentally unknowing, which hides itself as unknowing by pretending to be knowledge, thus masking its unknowing as knowing. Opening up to the real is touching upon the unknown, touching on truth, in so far as truth is the name of the inconsistence of the space of consistency that we call reality. A work exists when such contact exists. A piece of art is an articulation of that contact with chaos by pursuing a dual effort: It touches the incommensurable by giving it form. It specifies chaos while resisting it. It decides in favour of neither the real nor of reality. It opens itself up to the gruesome reality that reality is already the real, therefore every consistency, every certainty, every fact is teetering on the brink of the abyss of inconsistency. The work itself hangs in the balance. It articulates itself as a construct that is suspended over that abyss.

¹ Gilles Deleuze, „Erschöpft”, in: Samuel Beckett, Quadrat, Geister-Trio, ...nur noch Gewölk..., Nacht und Träume. Stücke für das Fernsehen, Frankfurt a. M. 1996, S. 56.

Christina Lanzl, Sculpture Magazine USA, Vol. 28 No. 9, 2009

Public Art Practice in Berlin

... Günschel's most recent public art commission is an Art on the Tree/Kunst am Baum project along Wisbyer Straße in Berlin's Pankow district. Innenhaut-Aussenhaut (Inner skin-outer skin) uses protective tree paint as a medium for stencil designs on tree trunks.
Inspired by popular tapestry pattern from various eras, the designs allude to the area's status as an upscale residential community – before a sharp increase in traffic led to a decline in its popularity. The tree drawings mark three important pedestrian crossings along Wisbyer Strasse. Günschel's project is noteworthy for its innovative use of materials and its ecological merit ...

Media Indonesia, 27.08.2008

Elisabeth Lynch, Sculpture Magazine USA, Vol. 28 No. 8, 2009

Heads, shifting

....These contemporary heads, which are installed at Humboldt's new Adlershof campus in southeast Berlin, also allude to two classicizing monuments on the university's central campus – one of Wilhelm von Humboldt, the schools founder, and the other of his brother, Alexander von Humboldt, a natural scientist. While Günschel and Smolka developed Heads, shifting, in part, to refer to the statues on the main campus, "the effect is not ... one of the classical sculpture: (the heads) neither represent a particular person nor are they static. They challenge the traditional intentions of such sculptures and playfully transfer them into the present". Activating the entrance of the Adlershof Campus, which houses the university's science and math facilities, the heads "address the nature of relationships between people (and) refer to the process of researching, discovering and learning."

Christine Hoffmann

Notes on Josefine Günschel's installation in the Gallery o zwei (1994)

A work of art especially suited to dark November days can be found in the Gallery
o zwei. Anyone who decides to leave his dimly-lit den and make his way across the shiny cobblestones, collar upturned, into the brightly-lit gallery will find an illustrated excursion into the mechanical workings of melancholy.

Günschel, who, in projects such as "Nachtbogen", has been known for her delicately provocative disruptions to our perceptions, has directed her attention to the "the lazy burden of the world" as one baroque poet said when describing the feeling of melancholy.

Laziness is a burden, the very nature of which consists of the desire to overcome itself. The condition of wanting to overcome is often replaced by the mundane, habitual behaviour of reluctance. Rejection in its turn is clearly seen in body language – the body reflects inner states of being which language seeks to transform in order to conceal awareness.

Günschel has placed a row of ash-grey pillars in the room and exposed them to machinery that strikes out at them with groaning, metallic sounds. The columns sway, bend, keel forward and finally fall back, almost into their original positions. The striking action is timed and distributed in such a way as to hinder the establishing of a normal momentum. From time to time, the columns come to a standstill, the heaviness that was apparent in their structured movements giving way to the floating ease of motionlessness.

The possibility that stillness can be experienced in contradictory ways as: a voluntary letting go, an acceptance or resignation to the condition of being, a forced presence, doing nothing and being still, or that it can be experienced as a deep outwards breath or as a cold freezing up – that such an array of possibilities are incorporated in one concept is but one of the lines of association Günschel's work sets into motion.

The structures of movement, from which Günschel only shows us an extract, awaken in the viewer's entire body an awareness of how tiresome the nature of existence can be and reminds him or her how their efforts to overcome the lethargy in their bodies as well as the inertia in their hearts are often comically helpless and futile.

The fact that the viewer, being made aware of movement, is also made aware of the complexities of his or her inner condition speaks of the strength and precision of the work. „One never shares thoughts, one shares movements, expressive signs from which we read backwards to the thoughts”. (Nietzsche)

Katrin Bettina Müller, TIP 26/1994

How does one convert the fear of being touched by damp spider's legs in a dark cellar into an opulently Baroque sculpture? How does one capture the lightness of a fresh breeze that suddenly blows the dirt and misery out of the city? For Josefine Günschel, a masterful transformer of spaces, these are sensitive issues. For one of her "Nachtbogen" projects in Oderberger Strasse, she descended into the cellar to install a pillar with many-fingered rubber gloves attached on top of each other: Tactile revulsion becomes a structure, similar to a grotto in Baroque castle gardens, allowing fear to be transformed into humour. In another installation, Günschel draped a broad swathe of curtains from the windows of a house. Although the movement of the folds is frozen, it is as if one can feel a draft created by them. There is real movement in her current project for the gallery O Zwei: something that is by definition normally condemned to immobility. Five grey pillars sway from side to side, driven by machines, until they come to rest again in a vertical position. Initially one can't get enough of the movement, but as time passes, one yearns for inertia. And for the first time, one senses a joy that buildings are unable to walk about the city.