On Cornelia Konrads’ Work | Zum Werk von Cornelia Konrads »

Heroic Revolt and Poetic Contradiction

by Michael Stoeber (Translation by Rebecca van Dyck)

Buchobjekte (Book Objects)

UndbuchBuchobjekte (Book Objects) turn up in Cornelia Konrads work between 2002 and 2006. Their small format and their intimate character, which is meant for their presentation in interior space, distinguish them from the artists large in situ works in public spaces. The Book Objects nevertheless take up a central place in her creative work. They smooth the way for understanding her artistic biography.

Konrads studied philosophy, German language and literature, and cultural studies, finding her way to an existence as a freelance artist relatively late. The ontology of the Book Objects conceals—or so it seems—an exorcistic act, with whose help Konrads drove out her academic way of thinking in order to awaken the creative forces of the unconscious, the dream-like and surreal, the faculties of intransigent and dissident thought.

The Period between 2004 and 2006

In the following we will concentrate on those of her works created between 2004 and 2006, without completely neglecting earlier works, above all when the forming principles of older works repeat themselves in newer ones. This is clearly the case in the “Piles”, those sculptures in which Konrads follows the forming principle of heaping or creating piles. Amongst the new "Piles" are the sculptures that originated in Korea, above all the “Pile of Wishes” (2004), a conical accumulation of stones whose peak lifts up as if it wants to break away from the static pile of stones to fly straight up into the sky—like the pleas and prayers of people in Asia who raise cones of wishing stones, a shamanic custom that is older than Buddhism.

pile of wishesIn the “Piles” sculptures Konrads combines different forming principles in a delightful way: not only calm and motion, but also dissolution and density. This is joined by the contrastive play with gravity and overcoming it, with reality and simulation, and the exciting encounter between nature and culture: the stone and its formation in the work. In addition: are the stones really flying up into the sky, or are they not perhaps falling down and settling on the pile? Rising or falling— that is the question. Ambivalence is typical for Cornelia Konrads’ work in general. It is her signature. In other works the alternatives are different: walking or running, flying or landing, downfall or victory. But the artist’s works consistently irritate and destabilize a monocausal view of the world and thus call into question the foundations of Aristotelian logic. The laws of identity (a = a) and contradiction (a = non-a) and the excluded middle (tertium non datur) do not prevail here. Rather what Konrads thematicizes in her works are interim states, moments of an irritating and fascinating indecision. Those states in which Zeno’s paradoxes become reality: the arrow that never reaches its target, Achilles who cannot manage to succeed in overtaking the tortoise.