oturn home > Probe: index page > Ein Indianer stirbt niemals: Maja Hoffmann / Sandra Poppe

Ein Indianer stirbt niemals: Maja Hoffmann / Sandra Poppe

May 08, 2005

Installations using audio, video, drawing and painting, Pulverteich 13, 20099 Hamburg, 06–11 May 2005

While the work of Maja Hoffmann and Sandra Poppe seems very different, I have been told that there was a common common starting point for this joint exhibition, a text also printed on the invitation:

Am Sylvestermorgen saß in der U3 Richtung Barmbek ein Betrunkener ganz in sich zusammen gesunken. Über eine Penny-Markt Tüte gebeugt präsentierte er nach langem Rumkramen ein Stück in Folie eingeschweißtes Kassler. In jenem Moment leiteten die Stäbchen seiner Iris die rosafleischfarbene Information weiter an sein kognitives Formfarbsystem im oberen linken Gehirnlappen der Hippocoloris. Die biochemischen Vorgänge der Neurotransmitter regten die elektrische Schwingung entlang der Nervenbahnen an bis zur absoluten Synchronisation. Er hob den Kopf, fürchtete nichts und verstand. Schließlich begann er zu sprechen: "Und ich sag Euch abermals, ein Indianer, der stirbt niemals."

It is not obvious how this bit of text, describing a drunken man sitting in an underground carriage on new year's eve, fishing a bit of vacuum-sealed meat out of a discounter plastic bag and uttering the words 'I tell you once again, an indian never dies' relates to the work on display. Obviously, it relates to a corny phrase enshrined in German consciousness, 'Ein Indianer kennt keinen Schmerz' ('an indian is oblivious to pain')—only that obliviousness to pain is amplified to a claim of immortality. But whether that matters in the context of the exhibits, I don't know.

Both Sandra Poppe and Maja Hoffmann are currently students of Marie Jose Burki at Hamburg's School of Art, HfbK.

Maja Hoffmann

Maja Hoffmann's part of the exhibition consists of two sparse animated black-and-white line drawings projected side by side onto a wall, with a gap between them. The left drawing shows a man in short trousers and t-shirt, not young, bulky, with curly hair and a chubby face, sitting propped up against at a tree. His legs are spread out flatly and his hands are joined in the lap. Next to him is a small styrofoam-type cup. The drawing on the right side shows the same place, but the man is replaced with a simple elongated circle marking a hole or the patch where he has been sitting. The cup is still there. The man (one may assume) has either left, or has not yet arrived.

The animation is minimal in the sense that it uses only about 20 frames, which are all very similar. Actually, starting with the first frame, the other frames have been generated through recursive copying, leading to a slow shift away from the first frame. The animation organises this set of frames into various sub-loops that avoid harsh jumps from late to early generations (or vice versa).

In each animation there is just one short marked deviation from the baseline drawings. On the left side, the head of the man turns, for a brief moment, slightly leftwards, to return to the previous frontal position. On the right side, the cup suddenly spills a dark liquid (coffee?) towards the round patch without any visible triggering event. Both events happen, apparently unsynchronized, in intervals of several minutes. The time in between is too long to be measured in the way that one may guess the instance when the next drop of water will be falling from a leaking faucet.

The animation, with a frame rate of perhaps 4 frames per second, causes the static drawing to oscillate slightly. On extended viewing, attention homes in on certain parts (the face, the hands, the sneakers, a little plant next to the tree trunk) which begin to dance (this was accentuated by the music played by DJ marin blau). Especially the man's twitching face seems to invite various minute interpretations which are immediately submerged in the non-stop serial flow of other expressions, which causes a loss of expressiveness while provoking interpretations—especially as the sideward glance and the spilling of the cup hint at a minimal narration.

There was a second video piece displayed on a tiny monitor hanging from the ceiling, which I haven't paid attention to. There were also a few abstract paintings on unmounted canvas cloth which I saw more as a decorative background.

Sandra Poppe

Sandra Poppe's installation consists of a cluster of several monitors of different sizes, sitting on the floor and pointing into different directions, and a larger black and white video projection of fast-moving dark clouds that occasionally reveal the sun and its radiating lense fraction artefacts.

Several of the fairly small monitors show a hand with fingers splayed on a table or floor, and the action of another hand rythmically poking a knife in the gaps between fingers, wandering back and forth. Sometimes, the movement freezes for a few seconds—at least once, as the artist confirmed, when the kife caught the skin—, only to continue afterwards. I did not realise (until I was told) that both hands belong to the same person, Sandra. I remembered a similar sequence in Polanski's "Knife in the Water", and Sandra mentioned other people have brought up other films with this topos. On another, larger, black screen, short sentences travel slowly from right to left, sentences like "why to continue", "why to insist", "what to forget", or "why to stay" – unfortunately I don't remember the actual sentences, perhaps Sandra will send some screen shots and I will correct my text.

I asked Sandra how these things belonged together, and she said (I believe) that the clouds worked like a screen for the mind to de-focus; she would look at the (real) sky and other things would come to her mind and aggregate, associate themselves. I fear this is a pretty rotten repetition of our conversation; the fact is I don't really know how the different elements in this installation belong together, or whether there is a deliberate space opening up between them which the spectator is invited to fill with his or her own thoughts.

I did not find it easy watching the kife's action because I kept fearing the hand would get injured. I liked to look at the dark fast-travelling clouds, but in effect dissociated them from the rest of the work.

Last update: 04 November 2008 | Impressum—Imprint