Catalogue DEAD DARLINGS #14 – From Stage-Fright to Limelight (Heimathafen Berlin/Neukölln, 2022)
INTRODUCTION TO THE TEXT WORKS OF VICTORIA HOHMANN – PROF. DR. ARTA ANTE, Design Academy, Berlin, 2020
„Text body works or anti-pictorial images “ – the inherent antagonism and in the same time the visible attraction of these concepts to each other lands this collection an intriguing thread to follow. Text based asceticism is confronted with minimalist pictorial aesthetics in the artistic practice of Victoria Hohmann and the resulting dichotomy faces the viewer with a dilemma: When and where does the text end and where does the image begin? The boundaries blur continuously leaving vague and intellectually re-digestible categories of art-work in the minds of the viewer. One keeps asking repetitiously: Does the artist leave text behind in favor of the images or are they so intertwined that a new form of artistic expression emerges while simultaneously a continuous interaction with the content, the materials and the subject observing them occurs?
Victoria Hohmann makes use of an old writer´s trusted tool to create artistic images: The Typewriter. She is eager to experiment new forms of art and applies the typewriter, as a surgeon would use its “surgery” tools to dissect the text in its smallest parts, first into words than into letters until it gets to the crucial point. What we see than are pages filled with letters, or single words or phrases that do not obey the logic grammar rules anymore, but invite us to visit instead a new “wonderland”, where regularities at first glance transmute at a second glance into welcomed irregularities caused by ((un-)intentional typos making you ponder – Is art ever finished? (Ist das schon „fetig“). The result is sometimes visual poetry with a strong touch of philosophy that invites us to dwell in a universe of „inbetween“ , with rules of “text gravity” suspended.
The artistic practice of Victoria Hohmann is filled with variations and repetitions that create unique constellations of surfaces, patterns and letters. The ambiguous meanings reflecting the complexity of works intersect softly on a subcutaneous level, generating superficially seamless silhouettes of figures which bear deeper questioned and gendered identities, like in the “Text”/“Sex” series. Sometimes it is women bodies that are shaped in front of the eyes of the viewer and sometimes are male bodies. Observing the works invites the viewer to become a co-creator and to decide by him/herself where the journey shall end as in the work: “To be filled by the user”, where an order slip form from the library is left intentionally blank challenging openly the viewer’s imagination.
The works are an invitation to dwell in a new space between form and content. Fragile, simple looking, small scale with multilayered shapes and complex, deeply rooted meanings. The choice of the materials and their combination to each other and to the text is by no means occasional, but rather planned and intentional. Coated paper that reflects indistinct as a mirror whatever appears in front of it, as in “Beschichtetes Papier”/”Coated Papier”, cardboard that challenges the female body fragility as in “Vorsicht Glas”/”Handle with care”, papyrus that reminds us of “mumie-like” images made of vague letters spread around it as in the Text-Body series, or even commonplace white paper plates used in fast food industry combined with old-money paper and intentionally distorted with biblical verses on them as in “dein Reich komme”/ “Thy Kingdom(a) come”.
All the works are an attempt to leave the well defined and trusted with an invitation to escape the ordinary to reach higher levels of understanding of the so called obvious in the conventional. The works reminds of Cy Tombly´s attempt to transcend the rational symbols of language and logic for the sake of the archaic idea, where the language as we know it originated. They also remind us of On Kawara´s attempt to question time and space and his offer to reside in the uncomfortably unknown.
Another thread followed here is the politically or socially critically motivated works as in “useless words/meaningless words” where the artist makes a powerful argument by using western values and concepts made out of words on paper to look like proof selected as evidence for a criminal case. The metaphor used is unequivocally clear. The artist deems it crucial to participate constructively and contribute to the current societal discourses such as the weakening of democracy in USA after the election of D. Trump, or the catastrophic effects of deforestation on the planet. She wants to keep the discussion alive and active with her artistic practice sometimes seriously and sometimes in a humorous way.
Lastly, just like the artist Jasper Johns, whom she makes homage, she uses her words and figuration traits and symbols, while repeating and serializing them, in order to push further the restrictions of the old known by challenging and welcoming the new as the one to (be)come yet.
Prof. Dr. Arta Ante, Arthistorian & Art Management, Design Akademie Berlin, Berlin 2020
Excerpt from the exhibition catalogue „Moments of Change“, Kunstverein L102.Art, Berlin 2018