Text: Hilde Retzlaff
When gazing upon the works of Hilde Retzlaff, a re-arrangement of the soul often takes place: meaningless rubbish, seamless without cause left somewhere, suddenly appears as a possible morpheme in a ghostlike language of presence. Consider the Kafkaesque idea that the Great wall of China actually was meant as a fundament for the Tower of Babel. If truth proved to be utterly above us, should we still strive for it? It's a Nietzschean question to ponder when the sculptures and images of Retzlaff prove themselves belonging to an underlying text. And even if that language would be inaccessible for the eyes, the same would open the art for other feelings, such as fear, cowardice, hope, courage and longing. They must carry on as a filter for art and life. That language is produced behind our backs, and even behind the back of the system. Retzlaff has made works out of pieces from billboards. But she's not using the pictures from the ads, but what's produced when additional layers are glued on ads. Overtime, the prints have overlapped each other, letting letters from different layers blend and be edited by the spontaneity of the material. What we see is a palimpsest, in which different eras and contextures mix into something new that has no human communicative intention. It is our surrounding. Sometimes we tell ourselves that it has meaning, that it wishes to say something. The spirit of the age, or rather the age of the spirit.
Art will not settle with realism, and its ideas don't need to be real to get real: already as possibilities they exist and affect. Technological cinder (for example packing material or imprints) might be only technological cinder, but just as true is that it just the same transforms into something else.
Even a potentially dormant language can exist as a language, which even though it might not exist can insist. Cowardice clings onto what is, while the tendencies which can be experienced requires a wee bit courage, hope or fear to be observed. A lot of the conflicts in our time deal with this, tendencies versus facts, courage versus cowardice, the Tower of Babel versus the Wall. What insists is possibly a subsistence, who might just be waiting for the right conditions. Tardigrades are very small creatures in the animal kingdom, who can enter a cryobiotic state as long as matter is held together. Thus, they are dead. At more favourable circumstance they once more may return to life.
Lars-Erik Hjertström Lappalainen