Surface Structures

Memory, Mimicry, and the Non-Archive

Container Love: Sascha Pohle (Kerber Verlag: Berlin, 2018)


Volume chapter

Memory, especially when it belongs to a community, always has a material aspect. Mediated records or documents and their collections are what we usually refer to as archives. Documents are by no means univocal objects; they testify to the medium in which they were recorded, to the technological progress, and other processes specific to their time. Records are always records of an event and of their own medium and material. The double visibility of documents occupies a central place in many of Sascha Pohle’s works. He engages with the scene of the archive on several levels. Re-photographing images with archival weight, which is an operation he uses in many of his works, results in reanimating, re-presenting, or giving them another visibility, but also is a meditation on the material and conceptual infrastructure of the archive. The image is no longer an evidence, or an index of a time past, but a document in motion, an emphatically contemporary object. Ornaments of Property (2013 – 2015), Statues Also Die (2012), Attachments (2015) challenge traditional ideas of chronology and visual economies of interpretation to perform a visual archaeology, in which contradictions and iconic resonances become productive principles. This folding of the past within the present-day artwork is a reflection on the material conditions of memory, the impossibility of a total archive, but also is a symptom of a desire to speculate about future modes of circulating and perceiving images.

 Passage (2016-ongoing) employs pattern and mimicry as material and visual surface modulations, which define the image as a place itself, and oscillates between a memory of inhabiting it, being situated, or literally being enveloped in a place, and an abstract map that does not chart or capture a territory. The work consists of a series of textile pieces based on photographs of the ground of the road to the Anseong University, where Pohle teaches, and the oldest market in Seoul. The photographs are rendered in a grey scale transferred into a machine knitted woollen pieces. The ground is made soft and flowing and transformation results into an object, which occupies the space between a map and a carpet. The artist treats them as performative objects, which can become gestural pieces animated by movements of repeated folding, unfolding and careful laying out on a table. This defines the photo-textile pieces as horizontal images to be contemplated from above. The network of cracks form irregular patterns and suggest multiple possible folds without resolving into a representation or recognizable image. They form strange interpretation of the oriental carpet, which according to Michel Foucault belongs to the category of heterotopias or spaces simultaneously within and outside culture, counter-sites, spaces of crisis and transition. Passages defines the outlines of a surface which could possibly be a ground, or could possibly chart a territory seen from above, very much like a satellite view of an unpopulated area. Still, it remains unresolved image-object, which resists to being interpreted as a photographic image, or a map. The fact that its medium is textile weaves in together the technical image, the photograph and carpet or a scarf, which are usually animated through touch and their flexible surfaces are designed to be viewed from above thus defining a horzonal view, in which the -micro becomes -macro, and the pixel becomes a textile knot. The digital image, which is malleable and liquid becomes a surface structure defined by what one could call a soft indexicality, and thus invites us to think and to experience the intimate distance between touch and touch screens. (excerpt)

Image: Sascha Pohle, Passage, 2016-ongoing