Lateral Thinking: RENATE KORDON

A series examining trained architects who have moved sideways into other professional disciplines.
Today to mark International Women's Day, GAT presents a portrait of artist Renate Kordon.

"dismantling dimensions"

It seems that even Renate Kordon’s line drawings refuse to stay fixed: movement and energy is integral to them, as if they were stills from a continuum. It’s how she is in person too: always in motion, pushing forward. In the exuberant turquoises, mustards and rust-reds she wears, and in her spirited personality, she could be on a mission to bring colour to the world.

These are the driving forces in her art: colour, light and motion, all three used as forms of energy that break down and re-shape time and space. Her shift away from architecture towards animation, then branching into installation, began in her student days. Film, she felt, with its two dimensions and flickering transience, was far more a reflection of the internal workings of a person:“ I didn’t so much want to build walls as to focus on what happens between them.”

This dismantling of dimensions—in space, and in time—forms a thread throughout her oeuvre. Time and again, her work challenges how we perceive the world, demonstrating the absurdity of fixed dimensions. Her 1979 film “Augenblicke” plays with the time invested by the viewer as its subject. In her short film “Tageblätter”, five years’ worth of drawings are leafed through in 3 1/2 minutes, showing both development and repetition—simultaneity and progression all at once. “Trickptychon” (Secession, 1987) is a radiant three-part projection of heavenly bodies in constant motion; it has no beginning and no end.

Her large-scale installations likewise defy spatial and temporal limits. In Schottwien, in Lower Austria, Kordon transformed a motorway bridge into a vast sundial (1997): its shadow is cast across circles of bright highway paint on the town’s main street. As the sun shifts these mark the seasons and solstices, rather than the hours of the day. So the motorway bridge, built as a conduit to accelerate modern life, serves instead to stretch and slacken the passing of time; it anchors one to this moment and to this place, even as the cars race past overhead.

A reflection of her architectural background, site-specificity is crucial to her installations, which are born from their context. A popular landmark of southern Styria, the Windspiel at Spielfeld (1991) was designed to reflect the new fluidity and openness of the Slovenian border. Its bright wheels catch the wind, spinning above the road on a 76-metre metal frame. As drivers approach, their viewpoint rapidly changes, so that the whirling cut-out figures create a feel of shifting depth and time. It represents best of all the sense that the artist is capturing from the world the energy of colour, motion and light, channelling them via the artwork to the viewer. A recent EU ruling however has ordained that borders should not be noticeable in any form, and the work stands under threat of removal. As a work of art, however, it is uncertain whether the Windspiel is even covered by this ruling. For many years, it had protection through Denkmal status; sadly, this was allowed to lapse in 2009. Kordon is still vigorously working to preserve the Windspiel in its current position and to encourage concerned authorities to act accordingly. Its preservation is essential because it stands as a unique transregional landmark, a widely acclaimed sign of open borders, of using boundless natural forces in creative, sensitive ways.

Renate Kordon oversaw the Windspiel’s realisation just weeks after her daughter’s birth. Documenting and challenging the established traditional roles of women in society and their received image in art history has been a parallel theme throughout her works. Her film installation “Malerinnen” (2009), for example, examines the voyeurism of old paintings; the sound track documents significant female artists.

This playful dismantling and re-assembling force running through Kordon’s work creates a resonant freedom from the limits of the physical world. Whether it’s a tiny pen-and-ink sketch of a man in fluid strokes, with tears spouting from his eyes; or “Flat entrance to the Universe” (2001) in the Vienna Planetarium, a ‘steel drawing’ spiral that pretends to be 3D but is actually flat on the wall; or two huge circles mown into lawns on Heldenplatz, Vienna (1988): “Kein Platz für Helden”—scales shrink and expand, time accelerates and slows, colours vibrate, dimensions blur, the past fades and reappears, producing a liberation from all kinds of borders.

Im April 2012 erscheint im Rahmen der Reihe "Lateral Thinking" auf www.gat.st ein Porträt von KMKG STUDIO (Georg Kettele und Martin Kern) - Studio for transmedial architecture & design (Graz).

Kate Howlett-Jones, portrait

Verfasser / in:

Kate Howlett-Jones


Thu 08/03/2012

Artikelempfehlungen der Redaktion


GAT Lateral Thinking series features trained architects who have moved sideways into other professional disciplines.


Kommentar antworten