Ver-rückt – Nr. 90/23

aus kunst:art Nr. 90, März – April 2023 (ISSN 1866-542 X)

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Kurt Buchwald in Linz

I spy with my little eye: the name of this children’s game is a succinct expression of why we love visual artists, and photographers especially. Kurt Buchwald fascinates us with his visual language of obfuscation, placing geometric shapes in front of his lens to create photographs that block and radicalize our view. He uses his body to the end as well, when he appears as a big, black shape in his seminal semi-documentary series Ein Tag in Ostberlin (A Day in East Berlin) from the 1980s. Buchwald builds large metal objects, wooden booths and Dadaistic instruments that are minimalistic sculptures in themselves while also serving as plastic admonitions to maintain a vigilant skepticism towards a naïve belief in technical media.

This exhibition Asymmetrie des Sehens (Asymmetry of Seeing) is a thorough retrospective of Buchwald’s oeuvre. Videos and remnants of performances, warning signage in the tradition of Klaus Staeck, and a desk from the Amt für Wahrnehmungsstörung” (Office of Perceptual Disorder), that seems to be waiting for the civil servant to return and continue processing the Autorisierter Beobachtungsberichte (Authorized Observation Reports) that the visitor is encouraged to fill out, are included in the show. Color photographs suggestive of sky and space contrast with somber black and white images heavy with the atmosphere of the GDR. Buchwald wants us to always remember that we are living in a false reality of created truths. His East German identity drives him to create works that comment on the manipulation of perception and remind us not to sentimentally reminisce about the Cold War era, which was not a children’s game at all.

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