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Split Milk- A Poetics of Substance, Subject and Surface

The question that is raised by painting is invariably one about surfaces and their power of seduction.

We have investments in glazes, impastos, stains, splashes; all arresting attention in a continual push and pull of the elsewhere of subject matter, signification, and with this, the naming process. Connected to this play of surfaces is the working of the imaginary as the place of ambivalence. The imaginary occasions both dissolution and fascination as opposed to the symbolic which is the assertion of structure and representation.

The idea of surface in painting attracts an ambivalent reception, and this can be experienced most markedly with the Rococo movement which is often viewed through its preoccupation with surface affect. Then as now, it is seen as socially divorced, courtly as well as pleasurable which is to be seen in conjunction with its significance for the emerging consumerist culture. This in turn ties in to the social judgement that deems the surface the place of deception and lure.

In the discourse of representation, the surface is indexical. In Modernism, on the other hand, the surface is given priority over the illusion of spatial depth. However, the surface is seen as mere materiality reiterating the split between figure and ground.

The night comes in as a figure through which I entertain a paradox. Rather than in front of us, visible in the light of day, the surface might confront us with our limits. By exploring this unaccountability of surface rather than of depth, a philosophical paradigm is inverted.

The surface presents us with its texture, its shininess or dullness, its splotches, stains, and glazes unfolds a poetics between substance and subject.The liquid and the viscous have an ability to dissolve boundaries and unfold a subversive power against the dominance of form and fixation.

The seduction of painting is thus not only the absorption into the imaginary of figuration but also to and with the ability of substances to exert a lure, to be absorbed, spilled and thrown, to present intensities for the subject to lose and find itself.

Thick glazes and splotches are material excess, that speak to enjoyment and disgust corresponding to the visceral, libidinal, corporeal, carnal both concrete but nevertheless mystical. As the surface is not pure, neither is it cleansed of movement. The overabundant painting space in Francois Boucher gives rise to a 'metonymic drifting'. With this, another proposition for the connection of the subject to surface is opened up, that is a spatial encounter. Drifting and floating correspond to movements in consumerist space, as Flanerie, browsing, surfing, are all connected to weightlessness and ideas of freedom, in conjunction with suspended choice, while on the other hand, the uncontrollability of this a-signifying movement might unleash, and drift off into the unknown. Floating is suggested as occurring in a gap opened by alienation, and ambivalent affects that, according to Timothy Morton, harbour an ecological consciousness within it. Through it, we might experience the ambivalent and reversible relationship between subject and object. It might be a state evoked by the suspension of dualist categories. Floating thus is a kind of poiesis that sets up a relationship between ethics and aesthetics. Drawing from the figure of the fragment, the text might assume the structure of a floating chain of signifiers, moving in curved lines and whorls, not unlike the way figuration is developed in a Boucher painting.

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  • DAAD Germany

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More about Clara

2013-19 Bachelor of Fine Arts at Hfbk Hamburg

Working grant for Visual Arts of the City of Hamburg, 2020

Scholarship from DAAD, 2021-23

2022l Arbeitsstipendien fuer Bildende Kunst der Hansestadt Hamburg, Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg
2022l Unruly Encounters, Southwark Park Galleries, London
2022l Bon voyage, Galerie Marstall Ahrensburg
2022l The House that Mum built, 32 Santos Road, London
2021l Reproduction interdite, 8.Salon, Hamburg
2021l Notable infatuations, Kuenstlerhaus Faktor, Hamburg
2021l Void recognition, Spoiler, Berlin
2020l Box l Unboxing, Ladoens, Hamburg
2020l Compost composée, CC Strombeek, Bruessel
2020l goodtimes, Dammtorbahnhof
2019l Nominees, Kunsthaus Hamburg
2019l Absolventenausstellung, Hfbk Hamburg
2018l Impermanent Signs, Mom Art Space, Hamburg
2018l Infinite Spine, studio 45, Wendenstraße, Hamburg (Solo)
2018l Never an Easy Season, Golden Pudel Club, Hamburg (Solo)
2017l Untitled Paint, Galerie Oel-Früh, Hamburg (Solo)
2017l Der Mensch muss unter die Leute, Bräuning Contemporary, Hamburg
2017l Harddrive, Raum linksrechts, Hamburg