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Rudolf Budja Gallery

EXIT
VR Exhibition

Physically present, mentally not

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About

„Most ideas that are successful are ludicrously simple. Successful ideas generally have the appearance of simplicity because they seem inevitable.” Sol Lewitt, Paragraphs on Conceptual Art Snaps of exit signs: deliberately affectless, depersonalized, repetitious. Ubiquitous snapshots, that became the most common type of photography, have developed in contemporary art into a coherent pictoral strategy featuring the sensory presence of everyday life. Florian Reinhardt has shot, over a period of almost 10 years, altogether 1024 exit signs from all over the world. He photographs with the iPhone camera: a spontaneous gesture, not planned and not staged, always emerging from a specific situation. He refuses to use any different camera than that of a smartphone, since for him the act of snapping a photo needs to be impulsive and at the spur of the moment. The majority of the signs are shown as close-ups, with no further references in the background – they deprive the viewer of any sense of scale or cultural reference to the environment, since exit signs have become global, regardless of a country’s language. In a world overwhelmed by signs, Reinhardt focuses and delivers the view of an inverted telescope on mundane and omnipresent signifiers of daily life. These signifiers, be they exit signs, words, arrows, circles, squares or pictograms, are universally understandable. In his present series, Reinhardt universalizes exit signs, framing their type as if they were specimens pinned onto a card. In this context, the Exit series is to be understood as a reception of both Ed Ruscha’s proto-conceptual approach to photography and of Duchamp’s appropriationism. All three artists apply the iconoclastic principle of Dada by displaying images of so called readymades: industrially-manufactured objects shown with no alteration. This form of transgression and appropriation of everyday objects was most prominently employed in pop art. Reinhardt’s collages of 25 images as a direct reflection on Warhol’s genre of multiplied and repeated portraits, which he referred to as the ‘assembly line effect’. However, Reinhardt takes the abstraction of Warhol’s critical reflection on uniqueness even further, by using identical images. Reinhardt’s exit signs, seemingly objectively accumulated without a conscious imposition of artistic selection or hierarchy, are unlike Ruscha’s series a narrative character, and are thus subjective and breaking the boundaries of documentary and dipping into conceptual art. The photographs are complex and layered: over the affectless, depersonalized, repetitious of never-ending industrial exit-signs comes the narrative layer of the contextual physical act of photographing the images. Each exit signs corresponds to an exit situation, narrating a particular moment in time, of instances of being physically present, but mentally not. As a consequence, Reinhardt’s photography are not only an archive of readymades in a Duchampian sense, but also an archive of subjectiveness as formulated by Theodor Adorno’s notion of mimesis. On this conceptual basis, Reinhardt decided – in cooperation with curator Anne Avramut – to design the exit series globally and participatory: in the course of the exhibition at the Rudolf Budja Gallery a platform will go online on his homepage (www.exit.art), where everyone is able to upload his/her own exit sign photographs and inherent story and where by these collective means an Encyclopedia of Exit will come into existence. Florian Reinhardt works all over the world and lives in Cologne. A. Avramut