· Apr 20, 2020

Lisa Kuglitsch, Pile, 2020. Courtesy of the artist
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“I remember spending summer days at a public swimming pool in Vienna, just sitting on my beach towel observing other people next to me — fascinated and mesmerised about what others were doing. How they were moving, what they were eating and how they were talking-noticing parallels and differences. I was intrigued by the immediacy and intimacy I felt in these shared moments. My role was passive and for just a few moments. I wasn't judging if I liked what I saw or not. I was only studying and absorbing images and sceneries. My fascination with observing has endured until today,” Lisa remarked early in our conversation.

There is an overlap of four continuous processes in Lisa’s daily practice of observation. She marks them as the IMPULSE or what I understand as initial attraction to a situation, the EYE or the guide for the selection, the HAND and by extension the physical apparatus capturing the image, and the BRAIN or the place where that image gets compared and contrasted to those that are already present. “Pictures serve as visual evidences, as visual notes. Sometimes it feels like the moment or the act of making an image marks the moment where this image is being saved on my internal storage — my memory.”

Talking with Lisa about the digital images she has made over the years, it became clear that we were not discussing an archive really, but more of a conglomerate of images. Thinking about what Lisa captures and how these stored images behave in her practice, I came to realise that the activity of observing then capturing a moment creates a collection of information that has the potential to reaffirm her intentions to herself. Whether or not that potential is mined systematically is not really the point. In this way her collection of images is different than an archive, its existence as a collection of uncatalogued images and what it means to amass that is reason enough for it to be considered valuable.

“The image acts as backup to a certain degree… I am allowing myself to erase it from my internal storage and source it out as I know, I have got the image stored somewhere else.” For Lisa, the possibility of infinite storage has made observing and capturing into a fluid ongoing daily process and the ease with which these images are stored has freed up space internally for her to process more.

In 2020 with a camera in every pocket, the activity of capturing images frequently, almost compulsively, is not limited to those engaged with making art. The majority of those we interact with daily have access to the device and the platforms used to share what we capture. The medium itself has casual transient nature and is palatable to even the youngest members of our society. Our digital image world also gives the illusions of infinite space and no physical consequence to the amassing of content. Analogue, physical collection of images done by individuals for personal or sentimental reasons such as a family photo album, or a scrapbook of newspaper clippings commemorating a specific person or series of events are a group of images chosen and then arranged in a way in which the purpose of the collection’s existence is clearly discernible. The arrangement might not be to the highest archival standards, but the physical nature of the content itself demands some form of sorting, be that a neatly crafted book or a pile in the corner. When thinking about the way we amass webs of images on digital platforms, there is no need to follow up the initial capture with any cataloguing at all. The “sorting” if one can call it that takes place automatically at the moment the image is taken, it does not require us to view it again as cataloging printed images would demand.

How to deal with the possibility to collect with no physical consequence? Is there something different about never having to think about what we have stored on a practical physical level? I thought of the text The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away by Ilya Kabakov [Excerpt].

The importance or lack thereof the papers is debatable, but the collection as a whole, sorted or not, holds power as a unit and represents more than just the information contained in them. I would argue part of the power of the life in scraps and junk is the physical presence of the papers. Today we have no physical evidence (besides the device itself) to clue us into the breadth of our collections of images and digital content of all kinds. The only thrust of meaning apart from the initial capture of the image is our knowledge of the potential for us to access them if we choose. It is notable how quickly we have been able to supplant our sentiments usually reserved for tangible objects onto the intangible. It is like we have been waiting to all create our own personal libraries if only we had the space! Considering the folder of images this text accompanies, we are seeing a limited window into a much larger group of images whose importance is the ever-growing collection itself, not the individual images. To me there is something similar in the impulse to save to that of Kabakov’s Garbage Man. The images and or the papers act as evidence of thoughts, of decisions, of plans, essentially of presence. Now the necessity to sort and throw away what we accumulate is nonexistent. Still, I think the accumulation of images and content we each amass serves the same ends as saving every slip of paper, to leave a trail or a trace of ourselves more or less for ourselves. A visual artist and manual laborer LISA KUGLITSCH, currently based in Vienna, is an observer of everyday banalities, reading spaces and daily situations as notes on how people inhabit domestic spaces and public realms. She traffics in a dialogue between imagery, objects and installative sequences — exploring and extruding the pictorial quality of sculptural language and sculptural quality of pictorial spaces. Her practice is an ongoing and ever-evolving experiment with materials, genres and formats. Kuglitsch likes her work to be seen as an invitation to observe and discover, to wander in space, capture constellations and get lost in certain details. Lisa Kuglitsch studied fine arts at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and Hoogeschool voor de Kunsten in Utrecht.

ALEXANDRA PHILLIPS lives and works in Rotterdam. PHILLIPS’ work celebrates subtleties conjured by our excess. Her practice spans a range of mediums including sculpture, printed matter, drawings on paper, and writing. In much of her work Phillips highlights unexpected qualities of common materials. By extension, she locates assumptions made about the possibilities and use value of these materials, which are often taken for granted and are considered not to be of much worth. Phillips works with the characteristics of these materials, but does not transform them. It is precisely that neglected aspect that she brings to the fore. She sees her work as a balancing act between disparate forces: new/old, found/fabricated, heavy/light, real/ imposter, valuable/worthless. She is a founding member of Purepropaganda.org Magazine, a media platform and project space in Rotterdam.


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