In this year's exhibition series Thought in Practice GiG Munich presents The Flamekeepers by Lilian Robl.
Emma Hauck. Ingeborg Bachmann. Rabe Perplexum. Not points but lines. Lines which do not connect points but travel swiftly in between. The archive, history, memory are collections of points tied to one central point: Man, defined as white, male and rational. In her exhibition with GiG Munich, The Flamekeepers, Lilian Robl seeks ways of remembering without memory, recording without constructing an archive. Just lines. Only lines.
Lilian Robl (*1990) studied Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich and at the Ecole de recherche graphique, Brussels, graduating as a master student of Prof. Alexandra Bircken in 2019. Her work was shown in numerous exhibitions: Top Space, Berlin (DE); Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin (DE); fructa, Munich (DE); Wienwoche (AT); Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich (CH); Kunstverein Marburg (DE) as well as at film festivals: Les Instants Vidéo, Marseille (FR); Barcelona International Short Film Festival (ES); GRRL Haus Cinema, Berlin (DE); FILE, São Paulo (BR); Women’s Voices Now, Los Angeles (US); Non- syntax, Tokyo (JP); International Moving Film Festival (IR); Light Mattter Film Festival (US). She has received residencies at the Cité Paris (FR), among others.
At each corner, each fork in the road, we encounter the same: Man. Not some man, a particular man with a friendly, if white European face, but man as a standard on which every opposition is based. This is the man that is the principle term in the opposition of male/female, white/red, rational/mad. A center point from which all other points take measure. The point of origin all other points echo. This kind of man is one “gigantic memory.”
The path we take instead is a straight one, without any crossroads. As soon as we open the door to the Lothringer 13 Studio space there is only the left. Nothing takes place on the right hand side. On the left there are four large windows covered with transparent red filter and once again there is no alternative to the redness that saturates the entire room with colour. Also on the left there are three deck chairs clustered around some speakers. Left is an open window. A poster hangs at the very edge of the distant wall behind.
At each step of the exhibition “The Flamekeepers” Lilian Robl invites us to think of lines. In this sound sketch that is part of the preparation work for a larger video piece, the protagonists – Emma Hauck, Ingeborg Bachmann, Rabe Perplexum – are not points but lines. For points would be women who as minorities are defined in opposition to the major term, man. Whereas lines flicker with flames of becoming. The lines of becoming are not the mathematical lines of history connecting two or more distant events in the point system of memory. Rather these lines pass between points, constituting a distinct no-man’s land. On this land no man can stand, because here is a place where the discernibility of points disappears. Deleuze and Guattari write that these murky zones form a “line-system of becoming.”
Robl is very good at identifying these indiscernible points, these lines of becoming, in order to constitute a kind of anti-archive, a non-collection of anti-memories. There is Emma Hauck, who in her schizophrenia feels she can control her world and make a nurse jump or a housefly drown. She sits down to repeatedly write to her husband: komm! Her writing is her body as she mechanically writes and rewrites the same word. Her writing is also a landscape she sees out of her window, a grey forest of lines you can walk into. Recalling Heathcliff’s wish to embrace Catherine’s corpse, Ingeborg Bachmann writes of wanting to embrace the skeleton of her lover, filling her decayed mouth and choking on the with the dust he has become, at one with his nothingness. Rabe Perplexum changes their name by deed poll to become-raven, flying about and causing havoc from Gärtnerplatz to Stachus.
Their’s is a terrible suffering. Emma Hauck dies in the Wiesloch asylum, without ever seeing her husband or daughters again. While high on drugs, Ingeborg Bachmann accidentally sets herself alight and dies from her injuries. Rabe’s tongue is a knife and they commit suicide after alienating their friends. To walk in straight lines and not remember – not to make memories by not connecting the distant points of historical events – is painful. But pain and suffering is also what brings about proximity. We are close to them in their suffering because we no longer separate entities but participants in becoming. When there are no binary distinction at play, they can affect us still and something of theirs passes to us. The wound for Robl must continually be licked open.
Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (London and New York: Continuum, 2004), 293.
Magdalena Wisniowska 2023