Virtual Book Launch — 3 Zines by Manfred Naescher

The very definition of the real becomes: that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction. The real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced. The hyperreal. (Jean Baudrillard)
There are three art zines on my table. They are all equal in size (about 21 by 15 cm), conceptualized, designed and published by the Berlin based artist Manfred Naescher. These books are the subjects of the first virtual book launch here on
“Architecture Without Films”, “Faces” and “Moutains with Subtitles” are the titles of the books, and they investigate, similar to the other publications Manfred Naescher published previously, the medium film/cinema – using appropriated pictures as starting point for his own recontextualized and reconfigured sequential work…

I have to admit that I had to read Manfred’s texts about his art zines first to realize the dimensions of his artistic idea. His books are a refreshing journey into a deconstructed cinematic space with it’s own definition of beauty and reality.

“Faces” contains nine watercolour works with portraits of famous female actors, which look somehow distorted, corrupted, disfigured, almost zombie-like in the way the color hits the paper in correlation with the water. The stroke of the brush erupts, the shape vanishes, the whole glamour of the cinema absconds and I start to decipher the names of the actors to the paintings – the only reference point is a list of names at the end of the art zine – what did Claude Jade look like?

On his “Faces” art book Manfred Naescher says he‘s interested in “Derrida’s concept of cinema as ‘the art of allowing ghosts to come back’.” Here, it is interpreted “with watercolor acting as the medium through which ghosts are invited to the present. This process ‘presupposes a memory of the past that has never taken the form of the present’ (Derrida), which is especially valid for film, a mere product of artifice. The images of Faces are both portraits and evocations of ghosts.”

For the “Mountains With Subtitles” art zine Manfred Naescher created a logo that makes up the cover. As the straight-forward title of this zine indicates it contains a collection of watercolors with mountains and subtitles.
Manfred Naescher invited friends to send him screenshots of scenes matching to the zines‘ title. He uses these screenshots as an initial point of his work and translates them in into high-contrast paintings that make the scenes look two dimensional, like a camouflaged landscape.
The subtitles are decontextualized. Removed from the movie and stand alone like whimsical quotes, but through the repetition of the mountain theme, the spectator reads them like a story. Personally, I love this kind of rearrangement of different fragments with different content but with a visual equality.

“The subtitles range from the prosaic or descriptive to the obscure and metaphysical. From the interplay between text and image arises a complex reciprocal relationship between the ephemeral, intangible nature of language and the relative permanence of the mountain.” (Manfred Naescher)

“Architecture Without Films” is an art zine with a series of 19 pencil drawings extracted from screenshots from films depicting the play of light on buildings or what appear as buildings.

“By projecting the images onto a wall and by the use of pencil and paper to create a wall rubbing of the architectural elements in the frame, architecture permeates the paper from both sides of the sheet: the front side of the sheet receives the shape and tonality of the projected building, while the back side connects to the wall and transmits a surface texture of a building that, in the process, becomes imprinted onto the paper. This process contributes actual light and stone to mere images of light and stone. All the non-architectural elements of the film frames are voided, yet the voids themselves frequently create visibility through negative space, which allows both the human element and narrative possibilites to enter the context.” (Manfred Naescher)

There is one thing all zines have in common: they‘re all reproductions of the original of a reproduction and I have to think about the cover art of Sonic Youth’s ‘Daydream Nation’  that depicts a painting by Gerhard Richter called ‘Kerze’ from 1983. This painting was made from A photograph of a candle – a picture of reality – afterwards the paintig was reproduced for the Sonic Youth cover art – a double refraction of the empirical truth.

The way Manfred Naescher works seems similar to me. He uses stills from movies as starting point and translate them into watercolors and drawings. Afterwards he reproduces these artworks to create an art zine out of them. I think in this way of working he exposes the movie, which tries to as realistic as possible. Manfred Naescher deconstructs the movie into single frames and dissolves it to graphical areas, reduces the colors into nuances and creates a hyperreal journey into a new world.

24 pages · 8.25 × 5.75″ (A5) · signed and numbered · edition of  100 · 2010
available at Half Letter Press

28 pages · 8.25 × 5.75″ (A5) · signed and numbered · edition of  100 · 2010
available at Half Letter Press

44 pages · 8.25 × 5.75″ (A5) · signed and numbered · edition of  100 · 2010
available at Half Letter Press

special thanks to manfred and florian for their help

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