Die Luft ist kuhl
I do not know what it means that
I am so sadly inclined;
There is an old tale and its scenes that
Will not depart from my mind.
The air is cool and darkling,
And peaceful flows the Rhine ;
The mountain top is sparkling,
The setting sunbeams shine.
- Heinrich Heine, " The Lorelei ," from "The Homecoming," 1823-24 1
Androgynous human creatures and a policeman raising his hand in a meaningful historical gesture, a flinching child, the Twin Towers , tiny human figures flying through the air, mythological images abruptly popping up from a big tumult—a collection of sights, depicted on a surface of folded paper, flickering over three-dimensional kinetic objects. This profusion is typified by a mixed painterly language. At times the images protrude and stand out before the viewer as if they really existed; at others they transform into color blots whose actuality is questionable.
Modeling the surface as a pattern was characteristic of French artist Henri Matisse's work (1869-1954). His collages from the 1940s and 1950s underscored the negation of distance between surface and image. The use of folding techniques was prevalent in the work of such artists as Simon Hanta? (1922-2008) and Sam Gilliam (b. 1933), who emphasized the physical dimension of the surface. American movements, such as Pattern and Design, which operated in Los Angeles and New York likewise stressed negation of the aforesaid gap between surface and image.
The idiosyncrasy of Matti Fischer's work lies in the blend of these trends which emphasize the surface with a three-dimensional ground and illusory images. The result is a misleading oneiric appearance whose most quintessential aspect is simultaneity. According to Fischer, the main theme of this series is the frame of Time in which narrative, the construction of memory and history evolve. The emphasis on the surface is an external manifestation of deep inner historical strata which have ostensibly become a mute external shell, a single whole. These layers are folded and concealed, like a ticking bomb which every now and then erupts and surfaces in the form of historical or mythological symbols and images.
These layers are reminiscent of a world described by French philosophers, Gilles Deleuze and F?lix Guattari, as a boundless rhizomatic space devoid of footholds 2 ; a stratified, ramified system, devoid of roots and borders, constantly evolving, but never exhaustive and final. 3 Fischer creates a stratified world in constant motion, without a beginning and without an end; a world comprising different becomings, "under a constant lack of fixation, in restless conch-like cyclicality." 4
A prominent feature of the objects in the exhibition is the helix, which calls to mind monuments such as Trajan's Column (113 AD), whose reference here is associated with Fischer's engagement with classical art. The reliefs on the Column, which often blend several different perspectives, portray the Emperor's victorious military campaigns, a blend intended to generate a simultaneity of events, thereby pressing historical multiplicity into controllable points of view beneficial to the Emperor. In Fischer's work, however, the movement of the painterly image together with the simultaneity of events expresses, rather, antithetical postmodern sentiments of total dependence on history and the lack of control over it, alongside the hope that there is a redeeming dimension in the human urge to rearrange.
The objects' fixed cyclic movement reinforces, as it were, the view which perceives history as a cycle. On the other hand, the multiplicity of elements and the combination of blotted abstract images and realistic images based on classical drawing produces a blend which eliminates any cyclical regularity.
History as a stratified, reticulated, synchronous system is presented as an experience of an illusory, multi-directional dream, both globally and personally. The microcosmic intertwines with the macrocosmic to create a mishmash, eliciting questions regarding the essence of the present in relation to the past and the future. Thus, vis-?-vis an androgynous figure extracted from the lexicon of classical forms, the policeman's forceful arm is raised, and a frightened boy flees the sight. Narcissus, depicted as a young woman, seeks his own image which eludes him due to the spiral whirl, just as it eludes the photographer who appears at the top part of the painting, and the viewer who tries to fix the image and stop time. These representations may be interpreted as a yearning for a distant magical past in view of a threatening historical reality. In this respect, Fischer seems to doubt the redeeming dimension inherent to liberation from origin and unity as proposed by the rhizomatic model, introducing yet another turn of the wheel, like the image of the dog chasing its tail in one of the paintings.
The fusion of movement and images emits coldness and alienation which call to mind a line from Heinrich Heine's poem "The Lorelei": "The air is cool and darkling" (" Die Luft ist kuhl , und es dunkelt "). This line, which also emerges as an inscription in one of the kinetic works in the exhibition, encapsulates the feelings stemming from the contemporary experience: the sense of alienation in a world in which the air is cool and darkling, attesting to a foggy past and a future that holds no promise.
Nava Sevilla Sadeh
1. Heinrich Heine, "The Lorelei," from the cycle "The Homecoming" (1823-24), in The Complete Poems of Heinrich Heine , trans. Hal Draper ( Cambridge, MA : Suhrkamp/Insel, and Oxford: Oxford University Press , 1982), p. 76.
2. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia ( London & New York : Continuum , 2007), pp. 6-24.
3. A?m De?elle L?ski, "Rhizome Philosophy," Resling 8 (Fall 2001), p. 11 [Hebrew].
4. Ibid ., p. 13.