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Cutting Timber

It is known that Karin Frank works with wood. It is also known that Thomas Bernhard wrote a book entitled "Cutting Timber". Wood and cutting timber, unplanned proximity; proximity that seems purely coincidental. The state which Austrian society is in it identified with the book willy-nilly can best be described as perplexed. The themes Karin Frank deals with are by no means scandalous: there is a lot of shitting, mountains and lakes of shit, a lot of lovemaking, couples do it floating on the lake, there are portrayals. The landscapes do not remain unaffected: idyllic as they may be, they are ploughed, raked and finally strewn, turned around to form a stage on which the nature of the societal returns. Bernhard did not mince any words. His language is clear, unambiguous, some would even call it rude. For many, "cutting timber" is a way of squaring accounts, for others it is a mere statement, a presentation of circumstances. A way of summarizing facts of case. Karin Frank's works seem to be no less factual. Her motifs, figures and scenes take the liberty not to be invented. The reality of shit and, as a logical consequence, of shitty reality, the role of language when you express yourself and the pressure you feel when straining to shit, this sausagy taciturnity that is an intimate way of articulation they are facts of case. However, a different type of language is hovering above these facts of case, one that aims at paraphrasing things as they are, hinting at them, so as to avoid what one is stuck in, where one stands at present. Some flexibility in language will even help to no longer consider a marked sense of masculinity in men as machismo but as the excusable trick played by an aging youngster. This language of paraphrase and flexibility is an instrument whereby one can deal with facts of case in a more flexible way. Flexibilization as apology, affirmation and denial of reality. This is the kind of language Bernhard and Frank oppose in their work. Bernhard cuts timber using a language that insists on not paraphrasing anything. Frank works with wood, and she does it as economically and directly as possible. Sometimes the rough shape is enough to determine the object or the scene. Sometimes details are needed. The fact the man shitting on the world has a face that looks very much like that of George Bush, that can actually be identified as his face, is the product of artistic economy professing to detail only if and when required. No mincing of words here. Timber is cut and processed here. The English expression for not beating around the bush is "frankly speaking". Admittedly, this is an insubstantial coincidence. Karin Frank speaks frankly.
By refusing to paraphrase, by her economical approach of turning the facts of case that can be treated flexibly into a topic for discussion, by insisting on the specific topicality of the discussion, Karin Frank provides an argument in favor of sculpture which, due to its materiality, puts up resistance against the dissolution of facts. Sculpture as resistance against the transformation of facts into the fabulous. The urgency of language, its insistence on the factual is the only thing that has a fabulous effect. While Bernhard uses repetition to beat the bushes in the jungle of words, thereby presenting an appearance of obsession where he means to reflect a sense of urgency, of calling for what is necessary, Frank uses a material that allows her to give ideas a fixed shape in the oven when she does quick sketches, molding, taking notes of corporeality firing what she has to express, as a matter of burning necessity -in a language that is relative easy to shape and in a medium that permits her to articulate her opinion in comparative independence from technical and economic conditions. As little as Karin Frank and Thomas Bernhard may have in common, as much comparison is at times the most direct way of saying something that could otherwise only be paraphrased.


Andreas Spiegl


Translation: Elisabeth Frank-Grossebner (frankly speaking, the name is yet another coincidence)