Dieter Appelt

January 23 – March 5, 2016

The exhibition „Zeitbezeichnungen” (designations of time) is comprised of a number of seminal works from the last 30 years of the large and eminetly important Œevre of German artist Dieter Appelt, whose photographs, cinematographically produced tableaus, drawings and films are the products of complex processes and the expression of manyfold visual, physical, spiritual, musical and mathematical experiences and reflections.

The works in the exhibition all have nature as their common subject and are characterized by their almost abstract and serial approach. As such they are all dedicated to one of the central thematic aspects in Appelt’s oeuvre and research: the depiction and experience of nature as duration, principle, continuum and resonance.

The largest work in the exhibition ist the photographic tableau „Feld“ (1991-2011). It consists of 27 black and white prints which appear almost crystally sharp in their visual presence. Precisely arranged in three rows of nine, they depict the surface of a moving body of water. As a whole these images are an attempt to make the streaming of the water graspable and to understand and to show its energetic flow. As much as this seems to be an impossible task, it reminds us of the „Sotappati“ in Buddhism, the entry of the stream of enlightenment, the path to understanding and mindful comprehension. But the water which we see here is a whirl, carefully chosen by the artist and a calculated reference to Ezra Pound’s idea of the Vortex, something that is governed by stillness at its center and refers to the reciprocal dynamics of stillness and motion.

The flow described in „Feld“can also be seen as a metaphor of time, the duration and time relatedness of anything natural and its observation. The latter is always related to the position and to the time of the observer and to his system of observation. This is reflected in Appelt’s second large tableau in the exhibition entitled „Finow Cinema Metric Space“ (2005 ). Here he filmed an idyllic riverscape in still images, systematically changing the camera position in measured increments with every shot. The quiet scene, which seems as if the artist had zoomed out of the detailed and concentrated images of the water tableau „Feld“, slowly changes with every of the 408 small sized individual images arranged in rows of 17 by 24. Once we step back to see this tableau as a whole, the succession of individual photographs becomes increasingly abstracted and rhythmical and begins to arrange itself in the pattern of a score or notation. The duration of the long process of perception thus seems to have been recorded as a sequence in time.

The possible next step, to research if what was recorded in such a manner, lends itself to be interpreted in another but visual way, was undertaken by the trained musician Dieter Appelt already several years earlier in his similar tableau „Abhörung des Waldrandes“ (Listening to the Edge of the Forest / 1985). The ascending and descending silhouettes of several forests had been photographed from equal distances and in measured intervals. Subsequently, the photographs were scanned to see what their tonal image would be. The result is a rhythmic drum-like music, which serves as the soundtrack of an abstract yellow and black video in the exhibition. This video is taken from a control monitor used in the sound studio and visually represents the technical process of listening to the edge of the forest as moving image.

What the monitor shows depicts nature only as a hard shadow, and is a representation of a different set of values. The representation of nature, however, through this process has also become a sound. A sound that can accompany us as we move through the exhibition and which allows us to imagine the dimensions of comprehension of an artist like Dieter Appelt, who grew up with the works of Schönberg and Cage.

Dieter Appelt (born 1935 ) is a major position in German art after 1970. His work has been recognized worldwide and can be found in the collections of renowned institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery Berlin, the Centre Pompidou, Paris and many more. Full scale retrospectives and solo exhibitions of his work were held, among others, at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Dieter Appelt studied music in Leipzig and Berlin before starting an arts degree at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin. From 1982 to 2008 Appelt was professor at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. Since 1996 he is a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin.