Remarks on the work of Clemens Mitscher. Like many other international artists of his generation, Mitscher belongs to the group of artists who have grown up in an increasingly exclusive media world. Reality is obscured by the images of reality, the advertising images to which the pop artists of the 1960s reacted, the screened video images of 24-hour television, the department store catalogue images that invite us to purchase goods, the pornographic images that permanently perpetuate desire, the frozen historical situations such as the disturbances and destruction of civilization that newspapers reproduce every day.
Our consciousness is influenced by the mass media and things are more and more only available to us as pictures of things. Mitscher's work has to do with this situation and it is an attempt to defend oneself against the problematic field of truth and reality of images with the help of targeted motif selection and formal strategies for changing the photographic image. Artists such as Brus, Blume and Polke have already broken with the idea of good photography, i.e. the clear and precise reproduction of reality in the photographic image. Not sharpness but blurring was required, the shaky, random image of a trivial object that mocked all conventional photoesthetics, the developers were mixed with corrosive chemicals that hurt the surface of the film, the photographic art of the seventies knew the mechanically maltreated image. The screen process of the photographic image in screen printing was already a popular process among pop artists. The dissolution of the concrete image of reality into non-recognizability became a popular procedure. The concrete figurative pretext became an abstract structure, the photo was given informal features, and painterly considerations were incorporated.
Stephan Schmidt Wulffen rightly states in his book "Rules of the Game" with regard to Richter: "Richter's photo paintings make the viewer unsure which form of gaze is appropriate. The blur also acts as an ontological one and thus the forms of perception get mixed up. This confusion is of critical use to Richter...and elsewhere it says and I mention this in such detail, because it is of importance for Mitscher's approach. "By taking this interface between abstract design production and figurative appearance ontologically seriously, Polke and Richter open up a broad field of artistic statements. We may also locate Mitscher in this field, who of course starts from photography and does not level the contents of the picture as Richter or Polke do. Mitscher consciously chooses his motifs; he does not want to document the interchangeability of all these motifs in the sense of a triviality and banality common to all of them, but rather to interlink motif and transformation. Together with his characteristic colourfulness, he designs an associatively understandable climate of fear, annihilation and destruction, conveying this basic feeling of our century, which, in the last decade of the millennium, does not grow into the feeling of ecological powerlessness in a didactically abstract way, but intuitively by means of the "images" he conjured up. The proximity to the deterioration forms of substances, the fading as well as the overgrowth with black, the proximity of some pictures to X-rays, to moulds, the dissolution of the form of movement, the unsharpness convey to the viewer a feeling of anxiety and fear that cannot always be captured in the objects depicted. Sometimes these objects also trigger a possible chain of associations, for example in the case of the bus stop Stammheim, a pistol or a hand grenade as well as German shepherd dogs drooling at the viewer.
Mitscher uses diptychs or multi-part sequences of different strategies of change in the production of his single images, which originate from the enlargement of the image. The picture overwhelms the viewer by its size as well as by its sulfurous colorfulness. In MASSA. he presents the goods of a department store in a picture grid; they are changed in colour and the often only imaginable form in such a way that he reverses the images created to seduce the shopper into the opposite. It alienates them, makes them "inedible".In recent years Mitscher has added individual images to image sequences, whereby the individual image has almost a stillness character from a larger film context or a narrated story, details come up against totals; on the other hand (as in the work "good guys or bad guys") the images seem like parts of a slowing process, formal play with seriality but also consciously increasing the expressive quality of the image, which does not decrease with the multiplication but increases in contrast to Warhol's reproductions. Mitscher dissolves the pictorial world in his works. The experience of constant change, the play of forms and the destruction of unambiguous images are opposed to a static idea of the aseptic unambiguous world of gloss photography. As a critical examination of the world of images, which is considered reality.
© Peter Weiermair in catalog "Kontext", Marburger Kunstverein
Banal landscape, technically perfect Complaining that our experience of the world is only mediated and manipulated by the media has become a commonplace in the fine arts. Clemens Mitscher succeeds in potentiating this perception disorder more than just postmodern or demonizing it fundamentally. He prefers to work on frozen sequences from the television, for example from the CNN video clip of the bombing of the Iraqi command bunker. Already this is enough, but for him the sequence turns into a beautiful, almost abstract picture. Its origin, the real and equally the media reality, can only be recognized through hidden references. In "Experiment 23", a black and white video picture with two tin cans is shown - the viewer vaguely feels reminded of pictures that he may have seen in the context of "Auschwitz" at some point. He promptly remembers the keyword "Zyklon B". The 16-part series with pictures of the former German-German border is also outstanding, the negatives of which were chemically treated until they themselves hardly report about it any more, but all the more about camps, war, threat in general. Mitscher's moral, even political enlightenment remains free of Moralin. It is only logical that his spiritual and formal attitude is related to the early Robert Rauschenberg of the early sixties.
Frank Böttcher © DER TAGESSPIEGEL
And a symbol says quiet good day On the second Christmas night of 1991 the Soviet flag was caught up in Moscow. It was the end of the Soviet Union - and of the hammer and sickle which had been declared central emblems of the national emblem in Article 89 of the Soviet Constitution in July 1918. Distributed on the floor of the Marburger Gebrüder Grimm Stube are now shredded Soviet flags made of paper, produced for children's Gorbimaniacs to beckon the last Soviet supreme during his visit to Berlin shortly before the fall of communism. An advertising pillar shows extreme enlargements of the hammer and sickle emblem. As with Antonioni's film, the blow-up provides new insights: A drop seems to detach from the sickle handle. In the large-format photos of a bare back, the contours of hammer and sickle are indicated. Random shadows or traces of torture? The Marburg artist Clemens Mitscher (born 55), a graduate and lecturer at the Offenbach Academy of Design, became famous for his work on the Reichspogrom Night as well as photo and video coins on the Gulf War, deals with the disappearance and disposal of hammer and sickle in an installation. The emblem is miniaturized, extremely enlarged, pixelated, punched, filmed and attached to Russian celebrities by anagram (twisting letters). The sickles were sponsored by the Bavarian Sickle Union and the computer-controlled punching by Marburger Stempelfabrik. The dernier cri of capitalist modernity, the journey to the Internet, should not be missing either. Such disrespectful treatments protect against slipping in Eastalgia. But the unmasking or unmasking of the symbol is not Mitscher's business. Cartoonists of the expiring Soviet Union have already done that. Ambivalences are exposed in the alienating aesthetic treatment of the state emblem and communist symbol. Political-psychic double-bindings of some of the over 30-year-olds, who even had hammer and sickle stamps printed on their clothes at the vernissage. Playful handling of a symbol that can no longer spread terror, or remnants of a faded sympathy with the once competing social order? Mitscher stages the strange encounter of a lost symbol with capitalist modernity, which has become without alternative. As a sign of social hope, the symbols for industry and agriculture, already obsolete when the USSR was founded, may have been gambled away. In Mitscher's installation, hammer and sickle no longer fit anywhere, a special utopia. In an attack of care, the Marburger considered acquiring the international rights to the emblem. This is how it is to be taken from perfumers or fashion designers. Such caring privatization could only bring the collective symbol one last grotesque thing at the end of its history.
Richard Laufner © TAZ - Die Tageszeitung
[...] that the imaginary reality generated by the media is the only one to expect is also the subject of Clemens Mitscher's work on the Gulf War. By taking up the television images that bring the remote-controlled air war to the viewers' attention, he documents the poor performance of the processed imagery in relation to the reality they claim to depict. The clothes of the victims from a bunker in Baghdad ("Air Raid Shelter Attack", 1991) are as meaningless in the state of their electronic dissolution as the flickering structures claimed by the camera in the tip of the rocket as images of reality. The pictures prove: There is nothing to see. The more perfect the visual monitoring and observation technique becomes, the less meaningful the results become. Mitscher's photographed ground glass events illustrate the desensualization of remote-controlled air war to the quality of an image interference - or an advertisement for contemporary war technology: the verbal short descriptions of performance and tactical tasks for the device visible on the screen at home are added: "HELLFIRE LASERGUIDED MISSILE", "KILLS", "2000 TARGETS"... Other works show the trivialization of pictorial emergencies to the visual level of video games, the reduction of button-pushers to manipulators of unsuccessful television entertainment [...].
© Harald Kimpel in "Die vertikale Gefahr - Luftkrieg in der Kunst" Jonas Verlag, Marburg
The Marburg-based Clemens Mitscher has denounced the medium of television as a manipulator of reality. It shows a sequence of three images from the CNN station on the Gulf War, to which he adds two of his own. The latter reads: "Censored spot" and "Cease war at midnight", an allusion to the order of the American President to stop the bombing at midnight so that it could be announced on television at midnight, despite the victory that had already occurred at 7 pm: The 100-hour war is over. However, the pictures gave the impression of depicting current events of the war, when none took place any more.
Evelyn Preuss © HAMBURGER MORGENPOST
50 Jahre danach The very title of the show testifies to the historical consciousness, the political commitment of the authors: "50 Jahre danach", an installation by the Marburg artists Clemens Mitscher and Richard Stumm, is a confrontation with fascism, with the destruction of culture. "For us, horror cannot be depicted," says Mitscher, and so the two artists tried to find symbols for the pathos of the National Socialists. From October 9 to November 12, installations will be shown in the Waldecker Hall of Marburg Castle, commenting on the cultural clear-cutting of the 1930s. Under the care of the Marburg University Museum of Fine Arts, Mitscher (born in 1955) and Stumm (born in 1949) force a wide variety of objects into unity, into an expansive environment, including a swastika made of straw bales and a series of railway sleepers. While the swastika is degraded to a harmless sitting area, the originally unencumbered railway sleepers remind us of the deportation of the Jews to the concentration camps. A deserving exhibition, miles away from the art market and its laws.
Karlheinz Schmid © FAZ MAGAZIN
Image of Reality This may not come out so clearly after a first glance, because nowhere is the topic depicted in a direct way and pictorially. What is shown are traces saturated with meaning, which the viewer has to open up and pursue further. A first level of reflection, preceding the decoding of the motif, must apply to the reality content of these photographs. For Mitscher does not deal with real reality, but with a reality as it appears in images of reality - which is not the same, since other "picture-makers" were already at work here interpreting. This interpretation is Mitscher's real theme, and in bringing these previous interventions back into consciousness, he simultaneously destroys the expectation that objective truths are depicted, both in photography and in "informational film" - a second area with which he deals. Thus Mitscher recalls the manipulated character of CNN material on the Gulf War as well as other products of other propaganda apparatuses, such as the Nazi one. It suggests the absence of violence in its "dirty" form in order to organize consent. In Experiment 23, for example, Mitscher shows a still from a Nazi film (taken from "Architecture of Doom" by Peter Cohen) in which the use of Zyklon B in pest control is demonstrated as a manifestation of the destruction of the Jews. In "Fieldglasses" ("Night Vision Devices") and the 16-part radar screen series, Mitscher also deals with the theme of the media mediation of destruction, this time in the high-tech desert storm, which had been staged as a "clean" computer game.
With the isolation, the enlargement and, in part, the serial repetition of the originals, such as their photochemical alienation, there is an individual contribution that refuses to make clear statements on the content level - they would also be manipulation, albeit perhaps in a different direction, which is rejected. The viewer reacts, while the artist remains "morally indifferent," as Peter Weiermair put it at the opening. Through the artist's work of alienation, the event meant or quoted by allusion is increasingly reduced to a more general level of meaning. In extreme cases, the original context can even be completely lost. No one who does not have the artist's personal information will be able to trace the mental trail of "good guys or bad guys" back to the picture of a German shepherd in the long-gone youth magazine "twen" on the one hand and the final scene from a film about the Wannsee Conference, as one of the participants who has just made up his mind about the fate of millions of Jews, happily occupied himself with his Aryan dog. Already the indifferent title says that the artist deliberately does not comment on and evaluate the animal chosen as a symbol. Ins Monströse His neutrality is not always a total. When he titles shots from a 1960s Propagsdaschrift of the German Ministry "pictures from the front". (voyeuristically, looks are cast here at "over there") or he alienates the medical devices from his "Instruments" series into the monstrous, then Mitscher closes off a different way of reading than that of "Forms of the violent" - which one would hardly have seen in a different way in these examples. Only very indirectly does this leitmotif appear in the "dust-bug-system" series. What kind of company are we, Mitscher wondered, who, as he found out, can afford 650 different types of vacuum cleaner bags?
Thomas Vogel © NEU ULMER ZEITUNG
The human being from inside and outside Clemens Mitscher's exhibition "Vacuum Cleaner Bags and Phantom Pictures" in the bread factory leads from the human interior and back to the photographic exterior view of the human being. The overarching theme of the two projects is the questioning of an individualism propagated everywhere. A series of nine phantom images shows in an oppressive way how unmistakable "individuals" are constructed from a series of set pieces of the human face that mock this term. Mitscher was involved in making his work with a state-of-the-art device, the Minolta Assembly Unit, which was specially designed for mounting mug shots. In the future, the device, which Mitscher alienates as an artistic tool, will also be used in cosmetic surgery and in designer designs. This continuing aspect of levelling everything individual stands unspokenly and threateningly behind the artist's series. Mitscher, known for achieving surprising aesthetic results with photographs of everyday objects, continues this idea in the 52-part series "vacuum cleaner bags". When folded, a wide variety of vacuum cleaner bags are taken up in such a way that their actual purpose is no longer recognizable and they only appear as funny geometric abstractions. The human being, whether illuminated or artificially constructed, is pushed out of the portrait pose, but not in front of the photographers' lenses.
Nicola Zimmerle © DER TAGESSPIEGEL
Agit Pop Love is a burning thing AGIT POP - A remix on the topic by Michael Dreher and Clemens Mitscher at the Marburger Kunstverein stimulates local and global associations to corruption, lying politicians, apocalyptic war crimes and the possibilities of world change as a migration between passion and fanaticism . "If there's any hope left, it's in the revolution. And if there's hope of revolution, it's that Elvis Presley, king of rock, becomes Che Guevara." With this statement by singer Phil Ochs, a written appetizer begins, which the artists Michael Dreher and Clemens Mitscher offer visitors to their exhibition at the Marburger Kunsthalle as an aid. In this text, Dreher and Mitscher reflect, among other things, on the suspicion that artistic agitation is a mere simulation of resistance and that, for example,"... even youth cultural manifestations of otherness can only be ornamental enrichments of a tendentially totalitarian social machine". At the end of the interior views of their remix on "AGIT POP", both artists conclude that art has become superfluous everywhere. Everywhere? A tour of the exhibition, which will be on display until 24 April, gives the opposite impression.
Upon entering the Kunsthalle, visitors are confronted with two large-format photographs, each showing an oversized carpet knife with its extended blade aligned vertically. The lettering "SEE YOU" on one blade and "IN HELL" on the other indicates that both carpet cutters belong together, just as the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York used to belong together. Carpet cutters played a decisive role in the destruction of the Twin Towers. The assassins of September 11, 2001 first used them as a deadly weapon against the crews of the passenger planes they hijacked before directing the planes to the World Trade Center. The coexistence of the two carpet cutters instead of the two skyscrapers of the WTC not only recalls the indescribable human suffering of 9/11, but also the consequences of the assassination. The "SEE YOU IN HELL" of sky-up carpet knife blades can also be read as a portent for the current war crimes. For all self-proclaimed warriors of God, whether they fight with carpet knives or are part of the "most humane precision high-tech war machine", do not achieve the longed-for closeness to God and ascension, but only the enlargement of the already great earthly agony of all those involved, even against their will, with their attempts to bring evil out of the world.
Also in the entrance area of the Kunsthalle, Mitscher, born in Marburg in 1955, shows a second, large-format photographic work in which he confronts Roland Koch, who is all in black, with the lettering "London Calling" to be read on the left edge of the work. "London Calling" is the best album of the 1980s by the British punk rock band "The Clash", a formation around Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, whose aggressive music and provocative attitude against fascism, against violence, against racism and for a creativity that did not accept "No Future" slogans.
What appears to be out of the norm is mass effective and innovative, because it is only then that it becomes apparent in the midst of the unstoppable visual and acoustic bombardment of goods". With this assessment Mitscher and Dreher are not only right with regard to the tricks and strategies of politicians like the Hessian Prime Minister. At the same time they name the real challenge of the artists, the"... visual tricks of the image industry through artistic productions. "London calling' is a very good job in this respect.
With half a million vinyl single records Clemens Mitscher has piled up his third contribution in this exhibition to a gigantic sculpture of analog music carriers. The mere sight of singles like Grace Jones' "Do or Die", Simple Minds' "Sanctify Yourself", Alice Coopers' "House of Fire" or the Beatles production "Got to get you into my life" can generate an entire microcosm of memories. Mitscher replaced the title "Helter Skelter" of the Lennon/Mc Cartney song with the typography and color selection of the Internet department store "e-bay" and by the incorrect spelling with which members of the Charles Manson sect had written the words with the blood of the Sharon Tate they murdered in 1969 and left them at the scene of the crime.
By juxtaposing it with the heavyweight sculpture of analogue authenticity, Mitscher's "healther skelter" develops a subtle counterpoint to the digital flattening of culture and consumption of our time, which he specifically fixes on the sectlike phenomenology of e-bay. [...]
Thomas Gebauer © Express