The title of Peter Rauch’s solo show at Škuc gallery should be taken literally. The exhibition entitled Cross-section builds on surgically sharp, unsparing incisions into the material core of the gallery, the tectonics of its walls. It intervenes into surfaces that are the most immediate base for fulfilling its function, exhibiting, a function that implies neutral, decontextualized background. The cuts are accompanied by colour layer probes, another input that asserts the materiality of spatial elements and simultaneously subverts the function of white walls as footing or backdrop for contents that are regularly imported to inhabit the gallery space. Instead of a white cube or at least a neutral background, the gallery is delineated by strips of colour, didactic conservators’ systematizations of its past colour layers, and by missing fragments of walls. Painful incisions into a sensitive body.
These interventions, however, do not have a claim to critique. The potential implications of institutional critique are far-fetched and prove fruitless once we find ourselves faced with mute blocks of wall and abstract colour samples. Metaphoric readings of the mentioned interventions as dissecting the institutional body seem hollow. Instead we encounter musings on materiality, the transition from lump, body of matter, to material – matter that was given shape through an imprint of a will. In that respect the show follows Rauch’s past interests, last articulated in the project Minimal Difference between This and That, where he examined material imprints of artist’s will through the phenomenon of the throw, freezing the shape of the thrown object in a receptive emulsion. It seems that the current shows again underlines the materiality of an imprint of (artist’s) intention, but articulates this issue in broader spatial terms, as an incision into the materiality of (architectural) space. In Peter Rauch’s work it is thus materiality that replaces metaphor as the privileged brace for thinking.
Another name for this turn that strives to delineate new space for thinking is topology. Rauch’s interest in topology as the category of non-metaphoric depictions of basic psychoanalytic concepts builds on particular ability of topological objects to redefine the relation between continuity and discontinuity, the inside and outside. Lacan thus makes use of the paradoxical, non-Euclidean qualities of topological objects to characterize the functioning of the unconscious in relation to the conscious. Möbius strip is a prime example of such a paradoxical surface with only one boundary, a surface with a single continuous curve. If we use our finger to follow one of its sides, it finds its way to the other side without ever crossing a single boundary. The show itself is in effect a repetition of the basic gesture of the Möbius strip: by cutting and twisting it restructures the relation between the front and the back. Another example of a topological object which is especially relevant for the interventions in the show is the Klein bottle, an object that rearticulates the liaison between the inside and outside by, as Jacques-Allain Miller states, »putting the outside… in the inside of the outside«. And that makes it a precise equivalent of Cross-section. Cut-outs, pieces of gallery walls become exhibition pieces in a paradoxical turn in which the gallery exhibits itself. Physical piece of the gallery, part of its walls, is pulled inside itself, the exhibition function is reproduced by exhibiting – very literally – the exhibition space itself. The space is tucked into itself. The logic of the surface is replaced by the logic of the loop. The wall cut-outs have their complement in casts, the doubling of one of gallery’s idiosyncratic corners, result of centuries of building’s architectural re-purposing. The casts conclude the loop, underlining the visibility of the surface as the phenomenon central for the topological twisting of space.
Topology leans on a certain problem of uttering, its inner rupture. That by no means implies a ban of discourse, meaning we are to remain in silent awe in front of mute gallery walls. Exactly the opposite applies; we must endure the interdependence of uttering and its inability, which finds its model in topology. This is the very tucking-in of uttering that that this show, by exhibiting itself and thus inverting itself, faces us with. Instead of metaphors and formalizations, Cross-section introduces plasticity as a brace for thinking, an invention of space able to produce new conditions of visibility and coordinates of thinking. Same as topology in its insistence on materialism of the idea presents an anti-philosophical opposition to traditional philosophical claims to production of pure concepts or eternal ideas, the current show might be read as an anti-exhibition, since it exhibits nothing (but itself) nor has any claims to discursive meta-positioning. Instead it bends the space, replacing its consistency, its front and back sides, by texture, a surface covered with cuts and incisions. Instead of points that delineate the boundary between front and back, we find a series of loops, a topological tapestry of a sort, whose gestures of perforating and folding addresses the aspheric character of space and thinking beyond wholeness and consistency.
Artist/curator talk: Thursday, November 22nd and 29th at 6 pm
Acknowledgements: Doroteja Erhatič, Jure Goršič, Jure Grom
Peter Rauch (1978) has a degree in architecture, a master’s degree in photography, and is a doctoral candidate in philosophy and theoretical psychoanalysis. His focus in photography is the relations among the things the art can document and those it can constitute. In terms of theory, he is intrigued by the origin of thought, the significance of negation in the constitution of an object, and the issue of rupture in the fields of art, science, and politics. His key works are Pavilon (2017), Objects (2009–2015), Third Site (2014), Community (2012–2013), Images, Stories, Sequences (2011) and Traffic Kids (2009).
Photos of the exhibition: Klemen Ilovar.