Posted by: glue | July 2, 2008

Kiefer’s Way

The immediate experiment appropriates as genre template Kiefer’s Piet Mondrian — Operation Sea Lion, in the context of his oeuvre. A partial inventory of some features of this genre include:

1) A site from one’s personal experience, used as ground or setting, as a module, to interface individual memory with collective and cultural history. “”[Kiefer] uses landscape as the basis of much of his art. Many of his subjects are quite obviously derived from the fields neighboring his studio in Buchen, and he is a keen observer of the surroundings. Landscape is the central motif by which he expresses a distintegrating, violated, or suffering conditon of Germany. For much of his career, the blackened, burnt landscape has dominated his subject matter.” (Mark Rosenthal, Anselm Kiefer, 1987).


2) Engage in a dialogical struggle (deconstruction) for determining the signification of symbolic capital in the public sphere. In Kiefer’s case, the struggle was to recover German national symbolism from its appropriation by Nazi mythology (for example, his many self-portraits performing the fascist salute). An analogy in my context: corporate appropriation of American iconography.

3) Mix mimetic with non-objective (abstract) forms and styles: explore the materials of a scene in every dimension (as material, as form, as motif, as theme). Kiefer takes up some attribute of a mimetic scene at the level of its material and formal qualities, to extend and intensify its expressive effect (in “March Sand” the landscape transforms into a sand sculpture). The method often is to begin with a photograph and then overpaint it, combining conceptualism with abstract expressionism.

4) Combine images with text, such as captions or direct inscription of phrases in the scene, to include overtones of historical events, literary, mythological, esoteric themes. These themes are also invoked through inclusion of emblematic features associated with these narratives (his reference to Varus, the Eddas, the Iconoclastic controversy, hermetic arts). Kiefer’s canvases and books are authored in an iconic vocabulary drawing upon all the discourses available in his cultural sphere.

5) Select some metonym from your collection of discourses to serve as avatar, or personal logo. The presence of this logo in a scene facilitates working in the middle voice, by augmenting the conative stance of the production, as a test of one’s own capacity to be affected. The emblem (the artist’s palette in Kiefer’s case) establishes the first-person stance, putting the maker explicitly in the scene.

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