"Stage" by Markus Schinwald

"Outside and inside from a dialectics of division, the obvious geometry of which blinds us as soon as we bring it into play in the metaphysical domains. It has the sharpness of the dialectics of yes and no, which decides everything. Unless one is careful, it is made into the basis of all thoughts of the positive and negative." [1]

"The ambiguity of the title seems to be an indication of the ambiguity of the work itself," I say. "Yes," agrees my vis-à-vis curtly and I ask, "Maybe even the ambiguity of the theatre of life?"

Theatre is based on the principle of the lie. Actors try to make us believe that they are people who, in reality, they are not and that we are in a place in which, in reality, we are not. "A representation of reality which is continuously interrupted by the curtain. The curtain as a metaphor for concealment and what is beyond," explains my vis-à-vis referring to a work which he conceived for the annual "museum in progress" poster project.

What is beyond, the stage itself, is certainly the place to which we should be led. At the end of the stage there is a door, both an entrance and an exit – from and to the world whose iconography is used to perform this play. "This is seen more concretely with the female on the poster. She is reminiscent of Ingrid Bergmann in Hitchcock's film "Notorious". Whereas in Hitchcock she looks out of the picture and catches the audience watching what is going on, in the poster she shares our viewpoint," I hear. This principle, the use and manipulation of pictures, moments, objects and rooms which are familiar to us and the resulting confusion and disruption appears to be a recurring method in the work of Markus Schinwald.

In his work "Jubelhemd" ("Celebrating shirt") from 1997 he cut off the sleeves of a men's white shirt and then sewed them on again upside down. At first glance one noticed no difference. However, the effect was that whoever wore the shirt was now forced to do so with raised arms – celebrating – if he wanted to avoid tearing off the sleeves. For a group exhibition in the Salzburg Kunstverein the artist, inspired by Siegfried Kracauer's essay about the hotel lobby in "Detektiv-Roman" [2] ("Detective Novel"), created a room based on a Julius Schulmann photograph of a hotel lobby in Los Angeles. Kracauer describes this room as a place lacking all connection, in which we mostly just wait and gather. This lack of connection appears at various moments in the work: The arrangement of the furniture and people is consciously not resolved – lamps hang too low, the furniture is too far apart, the poses of the people portrayed strike one as strange, empty and removed. This form of relationship between room, work and viewer is also made clear by the way in which the work itself was presented: The room was set up long before the opening of the exhibition and could only be seen by visitors to the exhibition as a photograph which was printed in a Salzburg newspaper on the day of the opening.

"The starting-point can be a simple story, a play or a film in which everything which has to do with the plot or which determines and drives on the story has been cut out. Only the moments in between can be seen. The question is, what have I read or seen and where does it connect," he says and I think that this post-narrative moment has something to do with an empty place which I myself must fill with plot, content and thoughts. At first glance it is not clear what I see on the billboard which is familiar to me as advertising space. What remains as a reference point is us ourselves and our ways of seeing, and here my vis-à-vis adds, "The point is the possibility of variation from which other situations continually arise and the fact that normal posters always work with the same subjects."

What also interests me is the presence of people on the stage and I enquire about the relationships of the three protagonists. "You should sense the appropriateness of those standing around but without connecting it to a concrete purpose," I receive as a reply. "It almost looks as if Kant's definition of beauty has found its realisation here," I add, like an isolation of the aesthetic and its lack of content. In the empty individuals in the photo the aesthetic capacity has actually been filtered out from the existential procession of people and de-realised into a purely formal relation which is just as indifferent to the mis en scène as it is to the self.

[1] Gaston Bachelard, "The Poetics of Space", New York, 1964 [2] Siefried Kracauer, "Der Detektiv-Roman", in Schriften 1, Frankfurt am Main, 1971

(Brussels, 1999)