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 artzines​.de.
“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.

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

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

ARCHI­TEC­TURE WITHOUT FILMS
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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