THE GREAT ANTI_UTOPIA // by STEFAN EWALD in collaboration with DENNIS BUCHHOLTZ
#1 // THE FOUNTAIN SPOUTS PITCH-BLACK MOTOR OIL //
#2 // THE CAPE IS SUSPENDED BY CHAINS LIKE A GOATSKIN //
#3 // CABLES PROBE INTO SPACE
LIKE ANTENNAE OF A TECHNOID ORGANISM //
#4 // MOTHER SPIDER HAS LEFT HER WEB //
I had not yet turned 10 when I first watched a Hollywood movie that used the most advanced visual effects of the Nineties to show New York being wiped out by an enormous tsunami. Water poured down the urban canyons and toppled skyscrapers. I remember vividly how two characters, eyes closed, sought comfort in each other’s arms as the meteorite hit the Atlantic, causing the Sea to recede first and then sweep away everything in a giant wave.
The fear of such a wave, that – figuratively speaking – will likely occur someday, has never left me. Every one of us is harboring the fear of an inner wave. I am talking about a feeling of apprehension, about that sense of knowing that the world as we know it could reach a tipping point at any moment. Lisa Seebach’s artworks represent one way of getting prepared for that wave.
#5 // THE FUTURE HAS LONG BEGUN //
#6 // LISA SEEBACH IS REHEARSING IT //
#7 // VISIONS OF THE FUTURE ARE BURIED
IN HER SCULPTURES //
Her objects in I’d Rather Be Rehearsing the Future are iterations of a sculptural investigation into one’s own dystopian fantasies – fantasies of a world beyond the tipping point. The artist is not, however, preoccupied with the living; she does not paint a grim picture of a dystopian society. Rather, she deliberates the materiality and aesthetic qualities of one possible future. A fountain is dispensing motor oil. There is a small flame that is feeding on the oil. The lowest basin is reminding me of a seashell, of the seductive play of the nymphs. There is the cape that is starting to shine if light hits it at exactly the right angle, and the cables that interweave the room.
#8 // THIS FOUNTAIN IS A FOUNTAIN OF FIRE //
#9 // IT IS THE FIRE OF THE GREAT DESTRUCTION //
#10 // THE GREAT ANTI_UTOPIA BEGINS
WITH THE FOUNTAIN OF FIRE //
Fountain, spiderweb, cape and cables seem like remnants of a fairy tale whose protagonists have gone missing. There is no-one to wear the cape or to tell me how to use the fountain. These are relicts of a future that has not yet taken place, like exhibits of the past in an archeological museum. But while the latter have usually been worn down by centuries or even millennia and thus aged beyond recognition, I’d Rather Be Rehearsing the Future unveils freshly glazed options of the future.
#11 // THE SCULPTURE IS A REPOSITORY OF MEMORIES //
#12 // WE REHEARSE A PLAY
OR THE FUTURE //
#13 // WE REHEARSE IN ORDER TO FEEL SAFE //
It is the inability to visualize what lies ahead that feeds my fears of the unknown. I am thus compelled to keep fantasizing about the catastrophe. The dystopia is an obsessive thought. The human condition entails realizing both the impossibility of a utopia and the inevitability of a dystopia. Totalitarian conditions are just as likely as blissful moments. The objects in this exhibition, however, are not abstract ideas, but tangible works of art that allow me to explore the texture of the dystopia.
#14 // THE BAD MOTHER MANIFESTS IN THE
SYMBOL OF THE SPIDER //
#15 // THERE IS NO SPIDER
ONLY HER THICK, SHINY WEB
REMINISCENT OF INTESTINES //
Upon observing the works assembled for I’d Rather Be Rehearsing the Future, it dawns on me that Lisa Seebach’s dystopian suggestions are not simply disconcerting and daunting, but also strangely fascinating. When I see the fountain, I feel the urge to experience that world where fountains dispense fire and oil. I want to know what future ceramic cities might look like. The artworks showcase that I need not necessarily be afraid of what comes after the end of the world as we know it. When the dystopia loses its horror, the Great Anti_Utopia arises as a soothing synthesis.
#16 // HUMANS HAVE ALREADY BEEN OVERCOME //
#17 // MATERIAL AND FORM
NARRATE THE FUTURE
IN THE GREAT ANTI_UTOPIA //
I cannot help but wonder whether the only way to continue is to accept one’s fate. Perhaps Lisa Seebach’s cape might keep me warm, as well. It may be that one day, we will gladly call that ominous future our home. Some of the daunting future scenarios that we grew up with have become reality; yet we live on. When I observe Lisa Seebach’s inner wave of ceramic, cloth and steel, I feel the same apprehension that I felt when I was barely 10 years old and watched the world being swept away by flood waves on screen. But the ambiguity contained in her artworks has made me realize that every dystopia contains a utopian core, like a silver shine from the abyss.