Reviews & Essays

Essay by Michaela Nolte, Berlin, Germany, 2004

Barbara Bachner has formulated a wonderful statement about her work: “We are in a sense on a voyage where the map is hidden”. It does not matter what we may call this invisible topography – fate, providence, anticipation … because despite all enlightenment and autonomy of man there remains a hidden, incomprehensible and intangible signpost: a secret which Bachner places in the subconscious.

Since 1977, Barbara Bachner keeps a journal of her dreams and in the last ten years these notes are the concrete starting point for her work. That is if you can call dreams concrete. In sleep, dreams are composed as pictures that also inhabit the body and Bachner translates them in her journal into language, which in turn appears as scriptural signs and fragments in her art. In Vilem Flusser’s essay ” Die Schrift” (Writing) it says: Writing was … originally a gesture by which something was carved into an object using a wedge like instrument (“stilus”). This form of writing is not much used anymore. Usually writing these days means putting color on a surface. If is not inscription but “surscription”. The contemporary writing lacks both stem (“stilus”) and style.

Barbara Bachner has developed a style out of the intensive encounter of word and picture. Writing and language do not emerge from formal criteria nor are these statements that can be read as it can be done with the works of concept artist Lawrence Weiner. Bachner seems to arrive at the picture from a level of consciousness beyond the two-dimensional canvas. This dialogue between surface texture and transformed text structure creates a transitional zone setting free memories and letting them become materially evident.

The signs cannot be deciphered by reason and neither as a personal notation of the artist nor as established collective symbols. If we want to decipher something we have to retrace our steps: Bachner”s pictures open meadows of imagination to our own dreams. Here we can wander through the dialectic of memories and oblivion and begin a journey expanding the horizon.

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