this issue contains
>> Portrait of Hanne Darboven
>> Interview: Tim Eitel
>> Dieter Roth & Dorothy Iannone
>> Uta Barth

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Hanne Darboven, Buchgeschichte (detail), 1972, Deutsche Bank Collection


Today, Hanne Darboven is considered to be more than just a key figure of conceptual art, but rather one of the most important German artists alive. Beginning with an abstract, highly conceptual approach, she has succeeded in inscribing not only time into her comprehensive works, but in expanding it with her own subjective commentary. Perhaps because her writing contains no legible letters, the curves seem to communicate something about the artist’s state of mind. The script’s regularities and aberrations make up the tension of this writing work, which places endurance and energy above inherent meaning. The script resembles a series of seismographic curves or sound waves, a rhythmic up and down of the line, as though it were nothing more than the power of habit that demands that time be written out and filled with numerals or with music in a "total abstraction of art."

The images, wicker donkeys, or goats she adds to her installations merely provide an initial aid in orientation to tickle the memory; then, as relatively indeterminate fragments, they fall prey to the ineluctable regularity of the flow of time.

Hanne Darboven, Buchgeschichte (detail), 1972, Deutsche Bank Collection


It is precisely this routine, performed in a rigidly observed, self-prescribed working rhythm, that the artist implements to contract or expand time’s volume like a rubber band, filling entire walls or compressing it into little boxes or charts of columns and sums. Her installations of innumerable written and framed pages can be recognized immediately; their intrinsic aesthetic oscillates between the predictable and the unpredictable. Once again, the inconstancy of the present reveals itself in this flicker: it is only the ongoing daily writing ritual that is capable of saving "today," even if only for the moment in which it is written.

Ship to shore

Hanne Darboven: Do you read me?
Lawrence Weiner: I read you loud and clear
The writing does not fill a void
The writing enters into a world filled with many things
The writing from the first stroke is a fait accompli
The writing is today We write therefore we are

Dear Hanne - Lawrence Weiner, NYC, 2004

Translation: Andrea Scrima

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