Life and Times of an Outsourced Artwork

Find the full text on Object Notes online journal, edited Santiago da Silva and Malte Roloff


I am an object of humble means. I did not ask for the things that happened to me, I did not invite them nor did I entice them. Perhaps it is futile to ask you to see me differently then you already do, but I implore you to see me for what I truly am.

Like you, I am made up of many materials. Those materials are made up of many components, and those components can be split, categorized and named. Arguably, I could be dissected in this manner into the invisible, the metaphysical, the theoretical and finally into the realms of the unknown. Nevertheless, I think it would make more sense to begin by telling you that I was given my visible compounded form by a Producer named Alexander. He had a workshop in the wooded outskirts of the city. He had lovely hands covered in thick calluses. He had machines that could melt, cut and bind. Some were mechanical, others automatized and were directed by commands comprised purely in numbers. I tell you this to emphasize that my shape was not given to me willy-nilly, it was done consciously and accurately. But Alexander did not work alone, he had a workshop full of Implementers. These men and women would arrive early and drink a lot of coffee throughout the day. They talked about work and at times I was passively if not directly mentioned in these conversations. But they also talked about sporting results, parties and people they found attractive and sometimes copulated with. Many of them smoked cigarettes....


Verbacken & Verwittern (Cement & Weather): Philipp Modersohn

Oldenburg Kunstverein, texts by Anna M. Szaflarski, poster designed by Santiago da Silva

A single concrete block can be simultaneously considered as in a state of final rest and solidity, a ruin in slow decay, or at the tipping point preceding complete dissolution. They are all plausible, of course, fully dependant on a cultural perspective that is dictated by purpose, utility and desire.
verbacken & verwittern (transl. cement & weather), stands at the axes of two polar modes of thinking: between the intellectual understanding that all matter is interconnected in an infinite process of morphosis, and the inescapable cultural tendency to define matter by the immediate. Philipp Modersohn stages a sculptural spectrum that oscillates between both polar modes of perception and moving through the exhibition is similar in experience to strolling through a Baroque Garden. As you drift away from the central manor, so to speak, the obvious reflection of man’s desires gradually disintegrates from the garden, opening to the increasingly autonomous and alien.
At the entrance of the exhibition there are many visibly solid sculptures produced by means of an empirical alchemy combining conventionally incompatible materials. Concrete and glass, two dominant materials in the work, are both known for their behaviours of plastic malleability and lasting solidity. Their integrity is tested by processes of soaking, mixing, baking; compressing them with less virtuous materials such as trashy plastic, coffee grounds, melted caramel, to name a few. The formation is like geophysics in fast forward—heat, gravity, storms—and done with a similar brutality. Their final hardened gestures threaten immanent collapse, dispersion or dissolution. Resembling commonplace and domestic shapes, such as furniture, flower pots and guiding barriers, our relationship to them should seem clear, but this certainty becomes confused. All plausible states seem to exist simultaneously: the stable solidity, the slow decay, as well as immanent dissolution. Therefore, their place in time is left ambiguous and it is uncertain if they exist for our purposes in the contemporary, for bodies of a distant past, or for a desolate future.
Within the exhibition the works are trapped together like frozen artefacts, becoming the kind of sculptures that Smithson might have described as more “Egyptian” than “Greek”, because of their static representations of an infinite time span, instead of a dynamic exertion of the human moment. Deeper into the exhibition the petrified forms are reanimated, the recognizable cemented profiles are released, replaced with ephemeral compositions and moving images. As if the stone Egyptian guard would crumble into particles that could be easily swept away by a passing breeze. A.M.S.

Pdf of the short story Wind the Clock, Coil the Snake, Wrap the Bandage >>

Under the Hatchet

For the catalog Immobilzed Posture / II+I, I+I+I, I+II, III, (Decay): by Ida Lennartsson for her exhibition at Wassermühle Trittau. 2015. Stiftungen der Sparkasse Holstein.



...He sat in the passenger seat on the way home. There was a stand-up comedy act playing on the radio, and on the last turn towards the house the comedian blurted out something ridiculous. I let out an uncontrollable bubble of snickering and spit through my lips. Embarrassed by the noise I had made, I glanced over at him with a smile but he was staring out the window seemingly unaware of the humor I was currently partaking in. Sometimes I thought that the weight of his silence might break the shock absorbers. I bought a 4-wheeler Jeep to compensate, but he seemed to be getting heavier by the day. That was funny, I tried. He didn’t say anything or turn towards me. I noticed his hand wrap incrementally closer around something in his hand. I’m ridiculous, I said, testing self-deprecation on him. He didn’t flinch...

...I don’t know at what point he came in the room, but he was already curled up facing towards me on his bed when I looked over. His bed was pressed up against mine, but since his mattress was depressed by his weight by ten centimeters I opted for my own. His eyes were still open and his fist was tucked next to his lips. What the hell have you been carrying around in your hand all day? I asked. I was tired and impatient. Why won’t you tell me? Why don’t you let me help you? He gave me nothing. I turned off the TV and the bedside lamp and made a dramatic ‘huff’ as I drew the duvet over my head. The letters and numbers from the stock market projected onto the back of my closed eyelids. They went up and down and up and down, and down and up, and up and up and UP! The rate became volatile, the values and letters flipped until there was only a red and green blur and finally the market... crashed.
That’s it! I turned on the light. Show me what’s in your hand! He didn’t move. I swung over and grabbed both of his hands. I pulled and pulled but they wouldn’t budge, he was heavier than a mythological boulder, and I, after all, was only human. I stormed off to the garage and searched around until I found an axe. On my way back, I purposely stomped my feet as mightily as I could on the wooden floor, but it remained silent. That’s what did it. That was the final straw. I pounded the floor with my feet and it said nothing, didn’t move, didn’t complain, didn’t squeal. It was a good floor, reliable and sturdy, and would not give way to my whims. I was going to give him warning. I was going to say, if you don’t show me what’s in your hand I’m going to take it off. But I wasn’t desperate for a reaction this time, so I just went straight to it. I sat on top of him and started to chop at his hand. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t change his expression, and had the same look as always. He looked off into the distance—the distant place that I had always wanted to visit, or save him from? I still couldn’t decide. When I finished cutting off his hand I realized that it had been the wrong one, so I moved on to the clenched fist.
That’s when Inge called. I clamped the phone between my shoulder and my ear so I could go on with my task. She went on as usual, and asked me if I’ve heard about what’s going on and what they’re calling the modern ‘Völkerwanderung’ and that during the late period of the original one the Mongol Invasion caused every tenth person in Europe to be directly related to Genghis Khan. I responded with a Uh-huh, and a Hmm hmm. When she finished talking, she had somehow managed to connect Genghis, to Monsanto, to salmon eggs and surveillance programming that is no longer limited to the United Sates but has spread far beyond, and I—I had finally got what I wanted, and hung up.
In the morning I held his hands and everything that they contained tenderly in my own. The floor creaked beneath our weight, and the world revolved around us.

Tomorrow Should See More Working and Less Figuring

For the Catalogue "M o b y D i c k" on the occasion of M i c h a e l B e u t l e r's exhibition, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin. By invitation from the artist M i c h a e l B e u t l e r and curator Melanie Roumiguière, I produced 4 prose-style texts during the development of the exhibition, which was then distributed throughout the printed two-part catalogue. Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin Spector Books, Leipzig 2015 Design: Müller & Wesse, Berlin



[Part I "Tomorrow Should See More Working and Less Figuring]:

... Tomorrow should see more working and less figuring.
In the flanks, are those who wait. They have come with what at first glance looks like a general interest to do anonymous work. In this case, however, we can assume that it will be anything but of the unrewarding kind. They’ve come to expect that there will be a certain amount of undefined expertise needed, and such work that demands intuitive study has a tendency to twist around and pat the backs of its workers. It will not ungratefully accept your exhaustion without seeking to replenish it beyond simple remuneration. Yeah, sure, the workers have also come for the pay, but like the seamen awaiting departure on the shores of Nantucket, the pay is only a convenient means to justify passage aboard the craft that is best suited to their hearts....


[Part III "The Eye to Notice Them"]:

I imagine that there is a tendency among some to mentally flatten out the paper that has now been packed densely into bricks, or in another instance, mangled into sturdy waves, or roughly pressed onto metal grates. To think of how the paper might have looked before it was transformed into large bulky rings, or how the rolls of plastic arrived before it was stretched voluminously across wooden axes. To imagine how things were before they swelled and curved, before they carved out a place that hadn’t been particularly defined before...
... Perhaps a fellow craftsperson might vaguely recognize something in these tools from their own. They might not waste their time trying to feed the twisted paper reverse through the instrument or imagining all of its unique characteristics coming undone. Because the size of the apparatus might imply how many people it took to operate, or how the material gained its new shape, but they know that none of these things lead to a direct explanation. Just like when you see smoke surgin from the power plant, it doesn't begin to explain how in the evening the lights go on in your house. But from it, you gather that somehow there are people operating machiner to transform one material into another-a material that is marked by its origin but custom molded by the demands of purpose.


[Part IV "There’s Plenty of Time "]:

... No one knew what they were digging for. All anybody knew was that six months previous a flock of two thousand giant albatross had landed there and congregated in a circle on the abandoned field. The large seabird is rarely seen on land. It prefers the climates of the South Pacific and can spend up to five uninterrupted years at sea; seemingly inseparable from its strong and ceaseless winds. To the ancient mariner they were thought to be the spirits of drowned sailors or bringers of wind as they would often cruise the air streams behind ships for days on end. ...

Child's Play

The short prose Child's Play was written for the catalogue "Dream Home Experience" by Kasia Fudakowski. Harburg Kunstverein, Motto Books, Berlin. 2014. Graphic design: Santiago da Silva.



I built my first house when I was about six years old and a hundred centimeters tall. The bungalow was thirty by twenty-five centimeters in dimension, an had an exclusive view of the underside of my bed. The blocks were multi-colored, not by preference, but if I had known at that time what vernacular meant, I would have used that word to defended my circumstance. They were the only blocks I had, and I had to make do. I spread the secondary and tertiary colors throughout, making it appear as intentional as possible. The constellation of rooms, were placed according to a series of requirements, considering function, atmosphere, lighting, and then cautiously considering the possibility of pet procurement, inhabitant growth, old age and finally retirement. I felt confident that after my passing, my progeny would gladly inherit this asset, keeping in mind that they would most likely add their own up-to-date adjustments, of course.
I must say that it was less of an accidental decision and frankly more indebted to engineering genius, that I never laid down a foundation, or expanded a basement. Because, although, I had deliberated to rent out a lower level for additional income, the house was significantly easier to move to a new plot at the end of that year. Things in the neighborhood became increasingly difficult, and many were moving upstate or back home, but we decided to relocate to the big city, downtown, east-side, exactly across from a dog park and adjacent to large shopping center. The bungalow felt a bit provincial for its new surroundings. Or did it seem too arrogant? I couldn’t be sure, but to be more gracious to the preceding architecture I opted for a high-ceiling, sort of loft-like style. Two days before the building materials arrived, it came to our attention that hastily selling the house before its completion would be more lucrative then finishing it. I was sad to see it go, but it became evident that business savvy and sentimentality needed to be strictly separated, and I felt that, after all, the little bungalow was barely recognizable anymore. ...