Material: Polaroid processed, on Duratrans in
Aluminium light boxes
Dimensions: 36cm x 43cm x 10cm
in my mind, Michael Steinberg Fine Art Gallery, New York City
An hour from Paris I am full of expectations.
Paris is luring me.
The white city is shining in the sun.
She is enjoying her life with every breath, she said, and in the distance Paris glows and shines.
A voyage to Paris is her greatest wish.
A secret wish, a bold one.
In the year 1900, Paula Modersohn-Becker traveled to Paris for the first time. During her four visits, the “immense personality of this city“ affected the talented young woman very intensely. Here, she was able to tap the abundance of the lively cultural metropolis: Louvre, Notre Dame, and in encounters with the art of her famous contemporaries – Rodin, Cézanne, etc. – she developed her own artistic language.
The author Angelika Sinn and the artist Birgit Ramsauer followed Paula to Paris, the traces of the exciting encounter of the painter with this city: over 100 years later.
Each of them approached the subject in her own way, and from that, the book developed: a remarkable symbiosis of literature and art, connected by the inspiration through Modersohn-Becker. Insightful and expressive.
Auratic moments, newly arranged
To the Paula-Project of Angelika Sinn and Birgit Ramsauer
As the song that slumbers in all things in Eichendorff, pictures, sounds, and texts are filed in the urban environment. To activate the sleeping biographical fragments, the archive – at least in extracts and momentarily – was the intention of a journey to Paris by the aouthor Angelika Sinn and the artist Birgit Ramsauer. In the city on the Seine the centuries move into and onto one another. Good cartographic material is needed to find the path through the catalog of the urban archive. The intention of the artistic journey focused on one name: Paula Modersohn-Becker. Like the ghosts of the early history of photography, the painter, born 1876 in Dresden, flits through Sinns text-pictures. Here, her face is blurred through quick movement, there, the opinionated painter seems to pause. Then she peels herself out of her own biography and becomes a character in a text that is delivered one hundred years after that of her own life. A poetic-essayistic double and triple exposure is constantly placed in the work. It is looked after, in the most literal of all senses – the temporal one.
But why Paula? To encounter the artist outside the exhibition space and the description of pictures was the reason. This was the only way, not as a monograph and not as a catalog text, that the intent could be converted into fact. In a text that - step by step in the white city- seems to progress itself. And in the correspondence among the processed snapshots that are, as Polaroids, as a notebook, the basis for this book. Auratic moments, newly arranged.
And why Paris? Even a cursory look at Paula Modersohn-Beckers life identifies the capital of the 19th century, which had just ended by the times of her visits, as a breaking as well as an vanishing point. As the location of the Louvre and the studio of Rodin, Paris became her quickly desired object. For the painter Otto Modersohn, whom Paula married in 1901 after her first stay in Paris, the French metropolis became an object of jealousy. Modersohn, in their few married years, probably never understood the search for aesthetic input, that for his wife was only manageable in Paris. “He was of the opinion that I would rather stay in Paris and did not think much of Worpswede“, Paula Modersohn-Becker wrote in her diary in 1905. Modersohn jealously humanized and materialized Paris – which let Paulas “relationship“ with this city seem (and perhaps become) more intense.
But what was the nature of that relationship, that was so special, so different from the one with the artist’s colony of Worpswede, to the earthy landscape of the Devil’s Moor? From Modersohn-Becker’s letters and diaries Sinn and Ramsauer filter destinations and points of reference. Cartographic material for a search for traces and a walk. They also take the declaration of intent after the question – who was Paula? – literally: we will go into the matter… This going-after confronts author and artist with a completely new urban surface. The intuition that deeper layers could lie buried in cracks, dents and spaces urges the joint work on. Angelika Sinn and Birgit Ramsauer go to places that are written down in letters or diaries as a simple date: house numbers, apartments, studios.
They write over the autobiographically searching original text. At this point the correspondence of text and picture becomes most obvious. Between the work of the two comtemporary artists – but also to the work of Modersohn-Becker. Doesn’t time seem to stand still for a moment in the after-sight of the ornamental interior of Notre Dame? To turn out to be an illusion in the next moment? Does the row of motor scooters in front of the house at Rue Godot de Mauroy no. 12 not bear witness to the ceaseless ticking of the clocks? Brigit Ramsauer extends the immediacy of the snapshot. Color fields develop, angles and lines that reach into the picture. Intrusions that correlate with Paula’s often energetic brushstroke. We also find “overpainting“ in Angelika Sinn’s texts. One of the many closenesses consists in the gaze searching for a subject. Until the artist herself, set into the present in front of the Louvre, becomes caught up in the gaze. And disappears from the text before the treacherous back coupling can completely strike. Paula eludes the walkers in her tracks again and again. She becomes mute the moment someone puts their ear to the door. The auratic spaces are empty and abandoned in a melancholy way. Far above, the sky which the painter longingly stretches toward, cut off by trees and roofs, formatted.