Franz Ehmann accelerates the materiality of language its aesthetics and its transformative power into a participation that is more important than just contemporary art. Working with language, video, sculpture and installation his work harnesses simple gestures of the performing body with materials such as milk, honey, vegetables, fauna, flora and newsprint. His video performances are intentionally restricted to the given space in front of a small digital handy cam. ‘The artist on his way to work’ shows him walking, sitting on the train and begging for money. In ‘newspaper sculpture’ he is wrapped up in newsprint and rolling away from and then towards the camera. The end of an exhibition is nothing more than an aftermath, and even then the newspaper floor is gathered up into a loose looking sphere. There is no end to the sculptural possibilities, and these sculptural performances at the end of an exhibition already inform their next incarnation. There is no intentional blurring of any boundaries. The zones of reality and fiction are at home in each other’s comfort. The viewer will decide from interpretation and experience. Therein lies the complexities of social sculpture, its interaction and its formations of language sculpture. All thought and speech, displayed as form.
In Ehmann’s recent work on paper and canvas, incongruities accelerate the black painted space with a number of dots and silver foil spheres. This invokes an interpretation of the night sky, yet clearly minimizes a literal reading. Exposed at night the stars are visible and spinning at the same speed through space, yet never aware of it. Static remains the world; speeding and still turning on its axis, day arrives with a blank space turned blue through the atmosphere and light.
The repetition of endlessly connecting white and yellow strokes take on the illusion of a three dimensional topographic network that again evades its literal meaning. Its inherent content is derived through words. The title is ‘wordhole’ and continues the heuristic path taken with the ‘speechgrill’.
Is the problem finding its own solution? If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is?
A text panel acts out the intriguing announcement ‘don’t disturb my spheres!’ The echo of the past can be reinterpreted, and distance between people bridged by a story. Picture Archimedes at work with his own thoughts, equations and dust, as war is fought over Syracuse. In the ensuing brutality, a Roman soldier kills Archimedes. “Don’t disturb the circles, “ a somewhat distracted Archimedes shouts at the soldier, trying to protect the circles drawn in the dust on the floor. This said they became his fatal last words.
Again Franz Ehmann provokes thinking and being present with the work, to enter the experience. Experience is difficult to value within these open-ended approaches to language and the form that it takes through his work. When you are asked to walk around the space with a paper ball to encounter the works on the wall, then you know you are in for an experience. It is not to make fun of the viewer. While comic, it will make you think and therefore it is an act of exactitude.
These artworks by Franz Ehmann do not verify the answers that we seek, instead the importance of questions are to be found. It is in the nature of history that words precede us; therefore, repeating Voltaire has to do. “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers”.