Murphy. Excellent Gas, Superfine Chaos, 1993

The title of this show referred to a novel by Samuel Beckett, Murphy, in which Murphy eventually ties himself to a chair and dies with the gas pipes open in an attempt to reach a state of absolute mental immobility.

The show consisted of three large panels, black and white copies of felt pen drawings, that showed weird blobs intertwined with each other: above each panel there was a copy of a black and white photograph. One showed myself on a park bench, barefoot; another my father in a reclining chair in our garden; a third one showed a woman that was lying down on the board of the Seine in Paris, wearing a long black coat. Each of the persons was lying there inert, lost in his or her own thoughts; further distanced from the viewer by the use of the cheap copies. The abstract blobs beneath them were maybe the excellent chaos going on in their minds.

My bare foot had a special significance for me; at the time I had very little money and sometimes really felt like a bum. I was travelling a lot and even sometimes spent a night sleeping on a bench.

I had put some books with black and white copies in plastic covers on a small table. They were all copied from b/w photos that I had taken during my travels, and enlarged myself with a very hard gradation. When they were copied, some of them had so much contrast that you could hardly make out the picture.

The idea was to have a stock of pictures, and to make a different selection for each book. The books had titles like: Die Stadt (The City); Der Arbeitslose (The unemployed man); Ein Nachmittag in Paris (An afternoon in Paris); one was chosen by chance, the others tried to tell stories that never took place in this way. In the book about Paris for example, I also had photos from London or Stockholm or India. I mixed them all, because for me they were all the same, but also to prove that signification is produced by making connections between one picture and another, or one word and another. Since they only made arbitrary sense to me, they equalled the abstract drawings that followed their own basic rules without producing any meaning.


Thank you:
Brigitte und Frank Majewski, Nicolaus Schafhausen, Markus Schneider
Murphy. Excellent Gas, Superfine Chaos, Lukas & Hoffmann, Cologne, DE, 2003
Francesco Bonami, Echoes. Contemporary Art at the Age of Endless Conclusions, Monacelli Press, Inc., New York 1996