Charlotte Posenenske
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Against the Perfect Aspects of Improvisation in Charlotte Posenenske's Work
Prof. Dr. Hans Ulrich Reck, Kunsthochschule für Medien, Köln

Numerous nostalgic, sentiment-laden feelings and experiences wind around southern places like Naples. In these, the wealth of life appears as a metaphor materialized in all that which does not function, which evades the grip of the planned and administered world. It is life itself which in and among men appears as the originator of spontaneity and improvisation. Two of the best experts in bourgeois culture described Naples as a dysfunctional counter-model for a mechanized public in the industrial society. The dysfunctional even appears as the active core of the perfected, alienated apparatus. In his essay written in 1924 together with Asja Lacis (Gesammelte Schriften, vol. IV. 1, Frankfurt, 1972, p. 307 ff/ collected works, German edition), Walter Benjamin spoke of 'porosity' as a basic experience and a matter in which the spheres of privacy are permeated by publicness which during constant improvising is declared to be the stage of a passionately cast social play of roles. A comparatively little known text by Alfred Sohn-Rethel from 1926 (excerpts reprinted in: Neapel, ed. F. Ramondino and A. F. Müller, Zürich, 1988, p. 234ff) connects similarly formulated observation with the here interesting context of improvisation and technology. In the decay, in the destruction of the apparatus and in the 'illtreatment' of property, Sohn-Rethel saw the overcoming of the enchantment operating which, in a totally different connection, corresponds to Charlotte Posenenke's cancellation of authorship as an aesthetic and social experience. Through a shifting, playful profaning, technology becomes a "veto against the hostile and closed automatism of machinery" (Sohn-Rethel, loc. cit., p. 237).

The quality of an artwork can be measured by the power with which it exposes itself to constantly new aspects of reading and extensions of interpretation. For the works of Concept and Minimal Art, the critical speculative disclosure of new aspects is an admissible procedure. Though Charlotte Posenenke primarily intended to cancel the individual artistic authorship, her work is definitely far more than a comment on art as art. Insisting on the representation of an idea, which can never be identical with the idea, compels new descriptions beginning with the material reality. A possible interpretation suggests that the cancellation of authorship represents only one side of a symbolically readable artwork whose symbolic theme is the construction of a pandemic working subject. In that the work provokes such interpretations, it insists on its determined as we as determining existence. Its material reality thus turns against a merely abstract conceptualization which accepts the form of the work only as a strategic means of transportation for the manifestation of the thesis that the cancellation of authorship cannot be communicated without material playing-material. The symbolic and metaphoric description is founded in the artwork's concrete being: what it is and must not be is subjected to the presumption of an 'end of art' forced by history and technical civilization.

Symbolically, pictorially, Charlotte Posenenke's conceptual work touches upon subjects which allow the viewer to construct a tension-loaded relationship to the model of a presented three-dimensionality of an ideal (a revolutionary, upside-down Platonism). The perfect assembly and the technical plan, serial prefabrication and typification, standardization of the elements, and leaving the final assembly to others refer to moments of a programmatic repeatability. Each installation/enactment includes an improvisational handling by the respective persons concerned. Yet, the work proves to be consistent, a part of the adoption of technology which in the visual arts of the 20th century became effective as an enthusiastic machine-aesthetic. This is the one side. The other one refers to contraposed instances. First of all, we have to mention the marks of wear which for Charlotte Posenenske have to be dealt with not only within the art concept, but also within the material reality of the artwork's existence, and which justify the work as something materially autonomous. Moreover, the reduction of the work's elements to a few, seemingly technical utilitarian forms constitutes the starting point for the variability of the actions with which, through the respective different combinations, a particular public site is differently emphasized. The most productive in this context seem to be some reflections on the relationship between perfection and imperfection, function and dysfunction, which can be touched upon by the terms 'technology' and 'publicness'.

Is the vision of a frictionless course imperatively inherent in technology? Is technology and its public organization into systems fixed upon mechanical functioning? Anthropological reflection shows that technology cannot be described as that outstandingly instrumental end-means-activity which can strictly be contrasted to the communicative action of speaking. If one understands by 'technology' not only the anthropologically motivated mechanization of physical action, but a possible model of dependency well learned from a naturalhistory situation of deficiency, then a technical action is always also the expression of a communication seeking improvisation. If one regards Charlotte Posenenske's series of works as a process which on the part of the authorship not only conceptually declares the strategic cancellation of art, but practically realizes it in the producing action of the users, then it is not the abstract notion of technology of the industrial machine-aesthetic which appears to be predominant, but a critical, historicai concept of technology. The idea of technicality is to be founded on the concrete materiality of utilitarian actions. The technical cannot be acquired technically. Charlotte Posenenske's work permits this nuanced, new detection of the necessary poetry of improvising action in the collective activity of a technical civilization. Her work insists on a notion of work and activity which is separated from the reports on the successful progress in mechanization and is attributed to the vital context of producing. As a Concept artist she revived a sociological-philosophical thinking which not only intended to unearth anthropological continuity at the core of the machine-aesthetic but also to connect it to forms of expression in nontechnical action. Improvising deregulation appears to be made visible as the core and social proof of value of that which in technology must result in a vital socialization process.

Translation: Brigitte Kalthoff
First published - with much more illustrations and references: Schriften zur Sammlung des Museums für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, 1990. This edition also containes a contribution by Jean-Christophe Ammann 'Concluding Remarks: Siah Armajani' Bridge for Minneapolis', a biography and a list of exhibitions of Siah Armajani, a bibliography and the list of plates. The integral version can be ordered as book: Museum für Moderne Kunst, Domstraße 10, D-60311 Frankfurt a.M.
, biography, list of exhibitions and contributions by Burkhard Brunn, Friedrich Meschede, Charlotte PosenenskeKunst, Frankfurt am Main, 1990.

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