Ashes and Broken Brickwork of a Logical Theory
20.02.10 – 28.03.10
The work of Susanne Kriemann (°1972, Erlangen, D) is characterized by her strongly investigative approach, in which the artist incorporates modernity in an (art) historical framework within tradition, while separating it from all political (or ideological) motifs. Kriemann works primarily with photography, whereby her own visual production is reworked in combination with archival material in various presentations that test the fields of tension between a location and its historical and social contexts. By approaching a specific subject from diverse perspectives and reworking it in different layers, she reveals new connections and relationships.
The installation, Ashes and Broken Brickwork of a Logical Theory, connects photographs from the Agatha Christie archives and images from the archives of the IFPO (Institut français du Proche-Orient) with photographs that Kriemann took of the Syrian desert and archaeological sites in Mesopotamia. Agatha Christie, in addition to being a writer of detective novels, was a photographer for the British Museum. During countless journeys with her husband, well-known British archaeologist Max Mallowan, she amassed a sizable archive of images. Agatha Christie speaks to the imagination because of her iconic status and her association with fiction, but also because of her photographic work. She was continually in search of interesting perspectives and compositions. Christie’s collection includes photographs of the countryside and its inhabitants, as well as recording excavation activities.
For Kriemann, the choice of archaeology as a subject and the use of archival material are an instrument for the construction of a story and the creation of new images. Archaeology serves as a metaphor for a look back into the past, but equally as a ‘point 0’, a condition at which a line is drawn after ‘what happened before’, and where the new is ushered in. The desert landscape represents the idea of emptiness as a modern desire to create a tabula rasa.
Thanks to this associative working method, Kriemann succeeds in distancing ‘digging into the past’ and ‘the idea of modernity’ from any and all ideological connotations, and in this way to analyze recent writing of history as a formal system of organization. In turn, the viewer discovers new connections. As a result, in this installation, we can intuitively find a parallel between, for example, the ancient routes of the Bedouins in one of the photographs from me IFPO archives and modern forms of mobility, as we see in the images of taxis in Damascus. Thanks to this play on associations, the initial contradiction between tradition and the idea of modernity – which in its rawest form views all that went before and all that currently exists as ballast – is brought into nuanced perspective.
The exhibition includes a second work, Digging Up the Past. In a playful fashion, this series of photographs focuses on the 1930 book of the same name, by Sir Leonard Woolley. Woolley was a contemporary of Max Mallowan and fellow archaeologist. In Digging Up the Past, in a direct and clear, sometimes quasi-philosophical manner, Woolley discusses the importance of archaeology and knowledge of the ‘ancient world’ for modern man.
The Ashes and Broken Brickwork of a Logical Theory project is a co-production of the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (12 Dec. 2009-7 Feb. 2010) and KIOSK. An artist’s book has been published by Roma Publications in association with the exhibition. It reads as an inventory of the trajectory of Kriemann’s investigations on archaeology, the artefact and the image of man at work.
© images: Sander Buyck ; Marijke Respeel