Elisabeth Schlebrügge: Evidence in the invisible
If the art of sculpture were to define itself, as it did at the time of Alberti’s treatise “De Scultura,” through the two modalities of adding and subtracting, the choice for Elisabeth Grübl would be obvious: she has always opted for subtracting, thinning out, reducing, pulling back to the borders of visibility, with the color white as her primary material.
Rooms are defined through light and shadows; sculptures are reduced to the tension of a thread; laser lines feel out a wall; vibrations, tones, in part beyond the borders of perception, are placed in the room; blue strips of light glide through the city on the profane medium of night busses; rooms are made inaccessible, unable to be entered, viewers are turned away, their reactions occasionally registered randomly; experimental arrangements, a researcher’s cool calculation rather than the cult of genius and artistic idealism. And constant tensile tests; the question of what can still be removed, holding one’s breath that it will still hold together. That which remains of symbols, fragments of stories, images, metaphors, is meticulously removed, dissolved, dissected, scraped away by a razor’s edge. This removal is not meant to be suggestively poetic, atmospheric; there are no cloudy borders, no bright fog under which the contours appear secure,no relations of blurriness.
For her diploma work for the sculpture class at the Academy of Fine Arts, she placed a sound in the empty studio. Through a thick pane of glass, beholders could see only the empty room, whose floor was covered with a red carpet; having to deal without visual opulence, they were confronted with the necessity of mobilizing other senses within their perceptive abilities. The artist Elisabeth Grübl is interested in the invisible and the unseen, which she works alongside of; for whose existence, whose presence, a form is sought.
But also the way of dealing with this invisible element is conceived in such a way that it vehemently turns away every temptation. By creating a type of covering for that which is beyond conventional perception, yet which must be thought of as present, she is not following traditions of esoteric exorcism, of moving tables; the concentration and condensation of her work creates space for that which is ungraspable and ungrasped. Her works do not promote sense, instead, they point out the ruptures along which the usual interpretations of the world fall off course; the unforeseeable, long present and unobserved that cause firmly established coordinate systems to collapse. The question of the invisible is placed in a way that introduces no hierarchy between the signified and non-signified; observers can employ their reflections and experiences, can “adjust”: break-ins “out of the blue,” from blind spots into hitherto, secure-seeming assumptions; the misunderstood, which becomes visible with an intensity as though on a Kleistian stage of emotions between certainty and doubt; the confrontation with the appearance of psychoanalysis’s unconscious in the everyday and the course of treatment, with promise and interrogation, symptom formation and dream.
Nothing points out anything binding; its hollow forms are committed to the most extreme abstraction, they do not lay out any fields of association and do not form as spaces of memory. More so as spaces of forgetting, where there is also room for that which is no longer accessible, that which cannot be translated back, which seems lost forever; realms beyond sense, lost forever from memory; the white space between the letters, after these have been replaced through the reading.