8. June 2000 – 1. July 2000

Margret Eicher (DE), Dieter Huber (AT), Herwig Turk (AT)

Theme of Focus: BODY 2000

Bodies II

The second part of the theme complex ”bodies” at the Fotogalerie Vienna has to do with artificially created, reproduced, cloned, and manipulated bodies. Since the successful cloning of the sheep dolly, ethical, religious, and moral concerns – at least in the animal kingdom – have been overcome, and the question of a future human clone hangs over our heads like Damocles’ sword – with all the hopes and fears bound to it.
Since the fifties, medical research has been working with cloned human ”material”, such as those tumor cells, which were taken from a long since dead ”provider” – person. Presently, individual organs can be artificially reproduced easily based on slight quantities of actual human cell material. American doctors and lawyers are already fighting over this future gold, which they predict will be in the patent rights on artificially created organs. More than ever the body stands in a tense, pulsating field between science, culture and society, and finally between reality, fiction and utopia.
Dieter Huber seizes this moment of bodily dislocation and destabilization in his computer-generated photos, which ”dock on” to the familiar and real, however simultaneously push over these elements of security. Phenomena and things which one can name and supposedly therefore comprehend, become shaky after close observation of Huber’s work-in-progress series of “clones.” Human organs, plants or landscapes are of course still recognizable as such, but are however marked by fusion and groupings, which are unknown and evoke both curiosity and feelings of disgust. A clone is a genetically uniform cell or a multi-celled organism resulting from asexual reproduction. The horrible vision of identical duplication from live ”base material” is based on the fear of the loss of the individual. Ironically, it appears that just that point in time, at which human development has reached a maximum in individualism, is also the one which makes this achievement falter again because of the possibility of endless duplication – because duplication of an individual means nothing else than the end of the individual.
Herwig Turks’ ”Superorgans” share their experimental field and scope with Hubers’ ”clones”, whereby Turk deals with photographic detail of real human organs and digital mirror techniques. What is special about the aesthetic operation is the chosen detail and the successful, apparently casual mutation of the corner of an eye into a vaginal form, thereby claiming all possible pertinent connotations immediately. The subtlety of the cleavage may then assume monstrous characteristics. Minute bodily hairs appear thorny and evoke the potential danger of injury of the delicate callous landscape once more. Herwig Turk avoids direct interfaces and prefers an indirect, altered mirror axis. The mirror axis is, ”as Slavoj Zizek claims, the place in the picture which sets the symbolic movement of the interpretation in gait. A gap in the center of the symbolic order around which the dispersed field of the significant is synthesized repeatedly; which initiates the creation of symbolic structures and definitions of ‘Superorgans,” thereby implying the impossibility of the exclusive and consistent constitution of each individual.” (Matthias Michalka)
Margret Eicher also confirms a formal disassociation from actual reality in her artistic work. In doing this however, she reaches back to a copying technique that makes it possible, to a certain degree, for her to exclude a personal signature. A photo of a male baby taken in back light serves as the basis for her installation, ”Boygroup,” which was reproduced in multitude. Head to head or foot to foot they hang threaded from the ceiling and produce an uneasy feeling in the viewer. With the motive of the baby, Margret Eicher hits the core biotechnological visions of the cloned person, and with it, the fear of ”super-humans” in unrestricted numbers. Genocide and aimed production by selected persons lie close together, and when it becomes possible to chose which kind person is suitable for duplication, there will soon also be voices which believe to know which kind of persons are not ”suitable” for it. Still, the genetic bomb ticks on.

Sabine Schaschl