– Spring 2008
Read This Last
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Lutz Bacher, Kissinger (illegal/ constitutional), 1987, distressed black-and-white photograph mounted on aluminium, 129.5x96.5 cm, from the Jokes series. Image courtesy of Ratio 3, San Francisco.
Although Lutz Bacher, since the mid-1970s, has engaged in practices that resist stylistic categorisation, imply assumed identities and reject the necessity for epic art statements, it seems that her work, either because or in spite of these efforts, is both monumental and highly personal in its intensity. For over thirty years, she has consistently engaged in a process of imminent breakdown, successfully interrupting our image flow and combining a sense of cool aggression and vague authority. Cordoned between ascetic materialism and appropriationist cacophony, her works have been inspired by the idea of challenging the 'quest for innovation'. Instead, the processes of illumination and obliteration operate alongside those of technical imperfection and transparency, transforming what seems like a messy territory into something unexpectedly eloquent and sublime. Her intent on trumping all in terms of pure disorderly mass constitutes a refusal to provide points of orientation or the possibility of survey. With Bacher, language is reduced to an accumulation of noises, a rubble of disjointed parts. Technology breaks, materials are used up and images grow exhausted in their semiotic play. In short, the material parameters rupture the tidy system of appropiationist decontextualisation. We are not so much confronted by a direct message per se, as we are asked to decode a visual grammar of dissent, filled with inevitable absences, tinkering on the edge of visibility. Adding further milkiness to this haze is the work's implied demonstration of the impossibility of realising any creative endeavour, which might include philosophical ideas and political discussions as well as the aesthetic proposals of art objects. She is more a nomad than a refugee, both of whom are ghosts in society, but with an important