Isabel Reiß, Waben, Schlangen, Felder

Text on the exhibition

The personal exhibition of Isabel Reiß under the title Honeycombs, Snakes, Fields (in German Waben, Schlangen, Felder) is built of her drawings – a hyper-textual milieu – and her recent sound compositions – melodic temporalities of repetitive patterns. For Reiß they are tools for inventing a new diagrammatic space of multiplicities and bringing to life the virtualities within the chemical, sub-atomic, molecular and (in)corporeal material in unknown directions to give them an independent life that emerges as a brain, as a mode of unexpected connections that display a gamut of motives and initiate to a ‘profane illumination’ of micro-perceptions.

In Honeycombs, Snakes, Fields the artist deals with four urgent matters: individualism, productivity, information, and solidarity and how they are distributed in the consciousness of the individual(s) and in society. For Reiß, these terms are connoted with a certain traumatic experience of life in its affective, social and political dimensions. Like the individual, who is supposed to function under the pressures of accelerated endless productivity and growth, rationalization and self-optimization within the Post-Fordist accumulation regime and the psychopathologies of cognitive capitalism with its biopolitical technological command that produces a hypnotic and immersive spiral.

Reiß’s project is critical about these conditions and the fundamental conflict between regulated knowledge and life force, and for the artist, the lack of solidarity – prevented by the structural competition between individuals in which decisions are an automated task that we need endlessly to perform in our daily life routines, and control over desire – is an even more traumatic experience. The artist asks how personal political choices and everyday choices are interdependent on the society’s highly organized system of subjective networks that produce these objectives. In her project at Corner College, Reiß’s experiments with thinking as a sensualized microprocess where the boundaries of the individual marks the limit of self-sufficiency and further accelerates cognitions concerned with consciousness in its expanded sense, which is actually a slowing down and opening up to ‘generic oddities’ of connective patterns between the micro brains, outside the individual brain.

The artist’s method is neither analytical nor reflective but responds to the four fields from the kaleidoscopic perspective of internal modulations of fragments, distances, grids and a different logic of sensuality, of contemplative slowing down. Reiß elaborates on them to neutralize the noise of information and make space for a desire to get rid of a trauma that has been imposed on us. The artist proposes different techniques for dealing with the commercial attention and empowering the consciousness of an undetermined life. Akin to Nietzsche’s “something flows on underneath individuals,” Honeycombs, Snakes, Fields works underneath the surface, in depth, to open doorways to aesthetic and potentially political experience. The artist takes the viewer on a consciousness-expanding journey, which is a space in itself, to cross the threshold of transformations to the Real and its multiplicities. The Real does not correspond to reality, as its voided wildness is at odds with constructed reality and the abstracted truths of common sense.

The exhibition project Honeycombs, Snakes, Fields sets up a responsive disposition in which, in a kind of immersive mood, the artist aims to get viewers together and give them the opportunity to feel this togetherness in a different way, without competition, to go on a trip to their non-human part, to encounter their non-organic togetherness, to pass to the outside of the inside, a field without interiority – a nomadic space of alterity that produces the dynamic effect of healing in the modes of becoming-with-one-another that necessarily slow and calm down in the infinity of an oceanic feeling and other connections unsettling the peculiarity of consciousness that does not correspond to any reality, actively interweaving it into the real to experience the ecstasy of communication, i.e., an exuberant experiment in solidarity.

Exhaustion can be a turning point of unexpected transformations that can actually empower. Honeycombs, Snakes, Fields gives the viewers the excitement of this empowerment, like going on a kind of holiday and putting one’s daily routine onto another plane, which is an unexpected passage to the invisible and imperceptible riddle of the relation between the brain and consciousness, a turning moment when cognition can be open to a pure sense that glimmers, driven by invisible forces of the ecstasy of communication and their other logic of intensities, a communication that is not informed by information theory, big data and media channels but rather a bifurcation of the information and of perception flows that are splendor and a flashing feeling of solidarity.

For Reiß, without any doubt there are correlations between meditation and the consciousness-expanding or ecstatic experience of communication, i.e., solidarity. The artist aims to give the viewer the opportunity to unplug and disconnect from their daily routines and to re-connect different parts of their brain to the basic forms and practices that activate this pre-activist state that acts out any possible action. In this active pre-individual field or field of individuation, where the inner body encounters the forces of transition, life emerges as becoming-a-brain or as a collection of individual brains that per-form collective awareness.  In order to understand the relentless body, one has to start from the brain, the brain not detached form living and life, but the brain as an impersonal space of pre-individual haptic closeness and concentration of sensuality, of senses without reflections. This pure sense can be seen as a form in the withdrawal of presence, in relation to dealing with the trauma, with the individual and collective aspects of the singularity of experience.

Text: Dimitrina Sevova