The Kunstverein Braunschweig is presenting the Swiss artist Fabian Marti (*1979 in Fribourg, lives in Zurich) in his first institutional solo exhibition in Germany. Besides sculptures and a work on film, Marti is exhibiting photograms, never before seen in public, in a completely new form: like layers of sediment, one exhibition lies over the other—one visual level is introduced directly onto the wall, overlaid with a second. In doing so, Marti takes up a core theme of his art: “Time. And the possibility of a mental journey through time,” as he describes it.
What is central in this respect is the notion that collective historico-cultural knowledge has been inscribed into modern human beings and can be retrieved under certain conditions. Thus, Marti’s mysterious imagery avails itself of the avant-garde aesthetic of the 1920s as well as ethnographic, religious, or archaic symbols, such as skulls, masks, rock formations, crossed blades, temple ruins, and spiritual dances. His works also incorporate found image material from magazines of the 1950s and 1960s or from pulp science-fiction books from the 1970s. Yet Marti reverses the meaning of familiar symbols, icons, and subjects by subjectively and spontaneously altering them: photos are mirrored and double-exposed, negatives gashed with a blade and subjected to light, magazine covers are overpainted, pasted up, and then subsequently scanned. In contrast to photography, scanning leaves the physical traces of dust and scratches on the material, causing the images to develop a new haptic, even mystical presence.
What fascinates Fabian Marti about this approach is above all the incipient loss of control and acumen. Marti presented The Summit of It in the Arsenale at this year’s Biennale in Venice. An enormous wooden construction served as a display for ceramics (Philosophers and Shrinks, 2011) and at the same time as an accessible projection space for the film Sun, Oh! (2011). The film was produced during a boat tour in India during which Marti uses his iPhone to attempt to capture the rays of sun being refracted by the passing palm trees. The beatnik artist Brion Gysin experienced something similar in the late 1950s during a bus ride through southern France, which gave rise to his invention of the dreamachine, a rotating cylinder with slits cut in the sides and inside of which there is a light source. The rapid rotation speed produces a psychoactive stroboscopic effect. Fabian Marti is showing another form of the dream machine at the Kunstverein Braunschweig: the sculpture Time for the monkey to move into hyperspace (2011), which the artist has already used for performances, comes across as a futuristic time machine. A flickering LED light has been set into the lid at eye height and is meant to cause the viewer, who is enveloped by the machine, to enter a trance-like state.
Fabian Marti’s work has been recognized internationally for some years now due to his participation in nu-merous group exhibitions, including at the Swiss Institute in New York (2006), the Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris (2008), or at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt am Main (2011).
The exhibition is being supported by:
Stiftung Niedersachsen, Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur