WHITE ROOMS LIKE PICTURES
by Dr. Peter Funken
White rooms that seem like pictures, and sometimes like a dream – this is the impression made by many of the works of Wiebke Maria Wachmann, an artist who shifts and alters the relations between installation, picture, environment and photography, questioning the ambiguities of each.
Wachmann’s snow-white constructions are brighter than daylight, since they are lit by extremely powerful artificial light. Unable to enter these rooms, the viewer experiences Wachmann’s theatrical installations by looking in from outside, through doors or windows, making them appear as three-dimensional images. Due to the way they are built and their translucent brightness, the white interiors appear visually calm, creating space for the viewer’s own projections. The objects they contain become floating, barely conceivable events: a reconstructed birch forest or a bed lose their character as objects and lead a shadow-free existence in the realm of the immaterial.
Such white light can be almost too much for the eye to bear, as in a piece entitled “… and when the wind walked into the room, time stood still” (2003) that shows a blind (or is it the wing of an angel?) torn out of place by an imaginary gust of wind, and a window ripped out of its frame. In this installation, something violent and phenomenal seems to have taken place, as if lightning had struck and the event had had such an extreme impact that its mark was left on reality not in two-dimensional form (as a shadow, painting or photograph), but in three dimensions as a transparent, sculptural 3D image or something similarly utopian. If one engages with this dazzling sight, a form of illumination may occur, something sublime or strangely surreal: in this situation, I encounter myself outside of familiar conditions.
Wiebke Maria Wachmann’s work places the possibilities and potential of art quite literally in a different light: in her installations and picture spaces, moments of new and different modes of perception (and with them facets of new and different modes of being) become reality, pointing to the potential of fiction, immateriality and imagination. Her works, that often provoke ambivalent sensations in viewers, show moments of deterritorialization and dematerialization in ideal form: these are ideas that in earlier times had spiritual and sacred connotations, and which can now be understood via Modernism (or at least one aspect of Modernism, i.e. the concept of the sublime), ideas that lead from Romanticism through to the work of Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt in the 20th century, and which were also deeply rooted in the art of the Zero Group and Arte Povera. With her own means and media, Wiebke Maria Wachmann brings this line into the present, continuing to develop a universe of the absolute, the disconcerting and the beautiful.