Eggert/Ricklefs: Supernova in the system

by Wiebke Gronemeyer 


Cracks run through the blue, yellow, turquoise and red colored fields, slip over the dark grey shadows on the inside of the corners in order to branch off immediately, onwards to the huge matt grey fields that point at each other in the middle. Walking up to the homogeneous sculpture XEROX (2009); after this first, distant impression, one's capability to estimate the character of the object, or even to realize the interaction of form and color in space, quickly fades. Neither the massiveness of the oversized sculpture nor its large regular color fields seem to influenceone's amazement for this radial formation. It might rather be the cracks that render this perfect structure full of flaws, vulnerable and deliberately destroyed, despite appearing as an absolute symmetrical construction. 

Walking around the sculpture leads into the basement of the gallery where the power of the cracks has seemingly unfolded its impact: crushed to small pieces, the stellated octahedron rests on a flat grey pedestal. Some pieces appear to fall off, however, the same effect that already occurred on the ground floor recurs: the doubt about one's own perception, or rather about the realization resulting from a hasty combination of several impressions is steadily increasing. The chaos is not random, just as the cracks are not just an external manifestation of an inner strength that caused an explosion. Instead, nothing of the supposed chaos on the stage-like platform is coincidence. It implements the purpose to pose the question to the spectator: where did the spectacle begin? With the construction of the star or with the removal of our idea of destruction (of deconstructive intentions as in decomposition, resolution, and hence, interpretation)?



Given the extremely rare event that a star explodes at the end of its life cycle, this does not occur by hazard, nor is it a sudden utterance of hostile circumstances; rather, it is the result of the relationship between two stellar masses forming a binary system. Therein, two stars move around a mutual center of gravity at a regular distance. If the balance of this dual stellar system is deranged, the two masses react: the aging star bloats and emits gas to its stellar companion, which undergoes a sudden gravitational collapse and eventually explodes. Although this supernova implies a process of destruction for one star, it also stands for a rebirth: the expanding shock wave that drives into the star is capable of swiftly generating higher mass elements like gold and uranium out of lighter ones. A supernova is, in the same instance, both a beginning and an end. 

New matters rise from old. Hereby not only their composition is changed but also their character. New constellations only become possible if alteration and transformation take place in the process of disintegration and compensation. The fact that energy is never lost but only transformed is not only a principle of physics– transformation is a fundamental shift or exchange of structure. Materials obtain their materiality through the alteration of their common configuration. Space can only be characterized in terms of its spatiality whenever possible perspectives and modifications are made apparent.


In their collaborative work, Janine Eggert and Philipp Ricklefs call attention to the process of transformation and explore the potential of state vs. change, but also fathom the possibilities of individuality and dependency. The question of how things interact with each other concerns color and form as well as spectator and space, coincidence and intention, and also their own form of collaboration - a shared and common occupation with a process of artistic expression. 

Necessarily this is always preceded by an impression: an idea, result of the imprint of perception in the process of communication, which is constantly and mutually taking place. Their works take shape in numerous different formats, that properly derange the structure of processual realization of an artwork from start to finish, from the drawing to the sculpture. The concerted ideas that emerge and develop, hereby ought to resemble the spectator's interpretation of the relationship between the constructed and deconstructed stars.. They are versions of a concept of and with artthat is obtaining another new format with every new expression. Thereby it is constantly enabling the process of communication as an engine of collaboration in general. The drawings and sketches, clippings of books, models, test objects, images of buildups and executed installations etc. document this process that unfolds into the notion that perception, communication and mediation are not only terms of art appreciation but rather and above all - of artistic production itself.


“Art has to communicate how specific impressions are rendered through perception in order to be art.”1 The intentional foundation of a piece is conveyed to the spectator, whenever they differentiate between communication and perception while seizing the artwork. Following the system theory of Niklas Luhmann, sociologist Dirk Baecker describes the kind of perception that takes place within the relation of work and spectator. This is an essential requirement in order to realize the process of interpretation as dialogue. It is necessary to distinguish between art as communication and the subject as agent and producer of perception. This differentiation is highly important since in opposition to communication, perception cannot be negated. Baecker claims such perplexity of the consciousness towards its own perceptivenessto be an illusion that manifests itself in the assumption that perceived imprints appear as a matter of fact, and cannot be accounted for as active performance of the individual. To abolish, or rather to negate this illusion, is the communicative feature of art. 

The art of Eggert/Ricklefs assumes a say at exactly this point. It calls the spectator's attention to the process of perception. It insists on the cautious execution of the very same as a necessary requirement for any following interpretation. Through the deliberate combination of color, form and space as well as drawing upon color concepts like 'Interaction of color' by Josef Albers, or the principles of geometry the artists want to invite the spectator to experience (beyond their own viewing pattern) and to create something for himself within this event – in dialogue, in communication. 

Nothing else occurs in the process of collaboration but a form of communication with controlled exchange, of and about perceptions. This tends to result in explosions, which cause the transformation of materials and media (drawing, sketches, models) to always alter the subject matter as well (idea, concept, reference). The following pages read like a textual documentation of such a supernova, and give insight into the origin of the works we encounter in the exhibition space. However, they do not speak about the content of the latter, since the distinction between form and content likewise fell victim to the postulation that differentiations like that are not decided within the art work, but rather in its appreciation: perception is not the identification of meaning but the realization of the origin of meaningfulness. The following footage gives insight into a working process that indeed manifests itself in countless formats, but that is – just like this preface - not communicating through a specific image or work. Instead, it is solely concerned with the parameters that are essential to the production of works of art, as well as to the apprehension of art as communication.


1     Dirk Baecker (2007): Zu Funktion und Form der Kunst, S. 13-35. In: Christine Magerski, Robert Savage, Christiane Weller (Hrsg.): Moderne Begreifen: Zur Paradoxie eines sozio-aesthetischen Deutungsmusters, Wiesbaden, DUV, 2007.




Translation: Janine Eggert/ Joel Davies