BAP//ISTANBUL is pleased to announce Ulrich Riedel's first solo show in Istanbul: (UP)ROOTED, opening on June 12th.
THE INVERSION OF THE PROXIMATE ARRANGEMENT*
'A divine inspiration! And idea with horns. It was just like Him from whom it came, the Invisible and Spiritual One, to whom the world belonged and who, although He had especially selected out the blood kin down below, was the Lord of the whole earth. So with his head afire, Moses, borrowing loosely from the people of the Sinai and using his graver, tried out on the rocky wall the signs for the babbling, banging, and bursting, the popping and hopping, slurring and purring sounds, and when he had artfully assembled the distinctive signs together – lo and behold, you could write the whole world with them, whatever occupied a space and whatever occupied no space what was made and what was made up absolutely everything.
We cannot know whether Ulrich Riedel felt the same unbridled joy about his invention of a special form for the alphabet that Moses did in Thomas Mann's Old Testament story. He probably wouldn't be the type to bring it up anyway – he did, after all, title his masters' thesis project for the Tony Cragg/ Florian Slotawa class ICH HABE NICHTS ZU SAGEN/ I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY.
It is no coincidence that this attitude of refusal regarding the audience's desire for personal expression and authentic testimony places Riedel in the tradition of concrete and minimal art, which also eluded these demands. Besides the use of quasi-industrial means of production, Riedel's art also shares minimal and concrete art's reduction of personal handwriting, modular design and seriality.
Riedel's works also shows proximity to design and industrial design, as one would see in the oeu- vres of concrete artist Max Bill (1908-1994) and minimalist Donald Judd (1928-1994). Neither shied away from creating ordinary objects besides their sculptural works, commodities meant to directly convey their artistic ideas to the everyday and thus part of the modern utopia of a design for the entire lifeworld. Accordingly, Ulrich Riedel could learn from his professor Tony Cragg that ornamentation is no crime, and would have been schooled in Florian Slotawa's casual use of everyday products and the bizarre descendents found in his works.
Other rules in Riedel's system are based on writing and language as an information medium; for it, he developed a code using the simple shape of a square or rectangular bar cut at different angles. This bar stands – depending the turn of the cut and length of the rod – for a letter of the alphabet. That this has nothing to do with a kind of esoteric, secret writing is demonstrated by the fact that beside each relief is a tablet where the viewer can read the corresponding text. Except that the viewer does not immediately identify the elements as different manifestations of the same information. Had he or she done so, his or her attention would automatically be drawn to the fact of the information itself. This, in the digital age, is due to the simplest, basic elements such as + and -, yes and no, 0 and 1 etc., as we also find in the way in which Riedel's kinetic work ME – WE only requires the 180 degree rotation of the first letter to turn 'me' into 'we'.
It is this ability that makes ambiguous figures highly attractive to contemporary artists such as Riedel. For they can use them as evidence for the fact that there is no 'right' view consistent with the nature of seeing and of the visible, no rationale underlying the irrational surface of visible realities. The communication of this awareness, its conveyance, is both the purpose and reason for Ulrich Riedel's above noted attitude of refusal.