Friday, June 11, 2010

Memento - Christian Lemmerz : erindring, krop, død by Ann Lumbye Sørensen

Christian Lemmerz is an interesting artist!

Rating 4 out of 10

I don't think the text of this book by Ann Lumbye Sørensen matches the quite intersting artist Christian Lemmerz. She is simply to dull. There will always be a conflict between the artist and the elitarian bourgeois milieu which receives the artist, whether this milieu be elitarian in the economic sense or elitarian in the intellectual sense. Ann Lumbye Sørensen is too political correct and too much living in the bell jar of fine culture, academia and intellectualism to really strike out and grasp Christian by the balls as he deserves. Christian Lemmerz appears to be a potent artist. Casting a view over Christians oeuvre in the 80's and 90's, Ann Lumbye Sørensen rightfully draw comparisons with other artist like Joseph Beuys and Alberto Giacometti. Some of the works of Lemmerz that I find striking is "Grete" from 1986, this work consist of a lolita dull lying on a mattress with a beer bottle between her legs and in her mouth. Also the sculpture group "Anamnesis 1 - 9", also from 1986 seems striking. The sculptures "Gestalt (todesfigur)" from 1988 also makes an impression. And "Sfinx" from 1988-93. Especially fascinating seems Lemmerz recent work, like "Mermaid" from 2005 where the inspiration seems to be the classic Christian sarcophagi. Also the sculpure "Jailbird" from 2006, placed in East Jutland state prison seems very site-specific and very relevant. And the sculptures "Holy Spirit" from 1996 are quite interesting. It's amazing to witness Christians Lemmerz mastery over the craft of stone masonry in works like "Stroke (N.O.G.) from 1999, that guy seems capable of expressing everything in stone! There seems to run through all of Christian Lemmerz work a red thread of death, violence, mutilation and crime, but also at rare times an insight into deeper existential truths and perhaps even some deliverance.

Report from the cultural elite

I was standing at the buffet at the party, getting myself some more food.
- You look incredible stupid!
Slowly it dawned upon me, was somebody speaking to me? I turned around, Christian Lemmerz was standing right next to me looking at me with his brown eyes, with a surprisingly light, expressionless, expression on his face. Was the guy speaking to me? I think next to Christian Lemmerz was standing another person, so I gathered that he was just in the middle of a conversation with this other person, and that I had just overheard a fragment of it. Anyway it continued to rummage in my head, was he speaking to me? How polite! Anyway it was not exactly a welcoming intro to a conversation, so I didn’t react to his words.
The next day I met my father and his girlfriend, the hosts of the party, I recounted my experience with Christian Lemmerz and my father exclaimed:
- That’s exactly a Christian Lemmerz! He likes to provoke.
Hm… So here I am… Looking incredible stupid! Well probably it’s right, but I can’t really help it, can I?
Christian Lemmerz was dressed in a white shirt at the party, was it from Mads Nørgaard-Copenhagen? My father said Christian Lemmerz was a friend of Mads Nørgaard, that guy is also a friend of Martin Hall, are Lemmerz and Hall connected?
Anyway the party I attended was a birthday party for my father’s girlfriend. The guests where comprised of two groups, on the one hand family, and on the other hand friends and colleagues. The party was quite divided. Christian Lemmerz seemed like a quite attractive man. Somewhat in his white shirt he had the air of some revolutionary hero, like a 2010 Che Guevara. He was quite loud, joking and getting drunk, contrary to the rest of the guests he didn’t introduce himself, he just went to his corner, where he remained for the rest of the party, but this corner was the center of the party, and people came there. Jørgen Haugen Sørensen also came to the party, he was dressed in a white cotton suit, and had the air of some Picasso, here was the Artist! He was not as attractive as Lemmerz and he quickly went to Lemmerz’ corner where the two great men had a talk. Michael Kvium should actually also have been to the party, he had said he would come, but he didn’t turn up, sending no message of his absence, how nice! I have met Jørgen Haugen Sørensen before, but he didn’t notice me, probably he have forgotten everything about me, at least he didn’t greet me. Upon his leaving I tapped him on the shoulder and said hello, I am not exactly sure he recognized me, properly he couldn’t care less. Anyway I enquired to his broken leg, and he told me that he was OK now and that it had been patched together with seven metal stitches. Jørgen Haugen Sørensen has a very bright look in his eyes, it’s like his eyes emit a light like a razor blade. Like a bulb, there is something cruel about his expression. Jørgen is enthusiastic about the human experiment, when bodies become mutilated he is curious about it and models the corpses with his rough hands. My third encounter with a culture person at the party was with Lars Johansson, he introduced himself to me when I happened to end in a chair next to him, he told me that he was a writer, I had never read any of his books, and started to recount which of Danish contemporary writers I was digging. I mentioned Benn Q. Holm, and Martin Hall. He asked me if I meant Martin Hall the musician or Martin Hall the writer? I said Martin Hall the writer. Well suddenly in the middle of the conversation Lars Johansson saw some girl he knew, and without any word of excuse he started conversing her, ignoring me all together. Apparently our conversation was ended, how nice these culture people are! So the party carried on, as the night progressed it became more and more divided, there was the calm, somewhat boring, family room, and then there was the artistic room, with all these egos, getting more and more loud, saturated with themselves and their projects, counting an insignificant little person like me for nothing!
The artist was protruding into the living room; I looked at him as he was standing there in the June sun streaming in the window. The setting, the apartment, was cultured leftwing bourgeois, with designer lamps, books, in the kitchen postcards from the third world, political correctness en masse, speaking shortly, the place where an artist would be.
Christian Lemmerz was quite animated, the tall man was obviously a leader of a cult, enigmatically he was joking around, while his presence protruding somewhat like an omen into the living room. Was this guy a Jesus? A Manson?
I looked at Lars Johansson, he was standing in a small crowd with his back towards me, there was something slightly sloppy about his appearance, like his trousers and suit was a little too crumbled and musty. He was standing central in the crowd, slightly leaning back like nothing could really shake him, taking in the scene. I was happy I was not in the crowd, here was the cultural elite at the water hole, feeding each other with interesting vital information. This was social networking. But I was terrible misplaced in this setting, compared to these people I was a third world of humanity.
Meanwhile Christian had taken his elatedness into the next level; he was virtually jumping around in an almost violent fashion. Was this guy an incarnate of some Neanderthal impulse? In a way he was misplaced in this European intellectual setting, it was obvious that he was much more akin to some Dionysian blood feast. I mean it’s obvious that European culture has lost something in its development of rationality, fact and reason. But was the answer to this loss to regress into a world of rite and sacrifice, to return to a law of blood and gorging on fresh meat? Was the answer to go to Africa and partake in some voodoo ceremony with the black people?
I didn’t think so. To me that was the easy option and it only revealed the ignorance and crudeness of the artist. What about unseen art? What about invisible art? What about human spirituality? What about the graced moments of Homer? The energy waves of Blixen? The exuding of light and clarity from Ancient Greece? Should all this just go down the drain and we all become part of some Global multi cultural urban tribal mishmash, where every day was overriding the human potential with a new definition of how debased and crude a human could be?
Like a zombie I was groping around, I was the absolute minimum of humanity, the living dead, where was I? What was I? I did not exist; I was a living memory, a pause in flesh and blood. As from far off I was perceiving my surroundings, my senses was not working properly, like in slow motion I perceived a blurred image of the surroundings, the sounds reached me with a delay of time, I was like a blind, a deaf, a numb, a dumb.
Meanwhile the party had grown in intensity, like the dark side of The Garden of Earthly Delights everybody was now devouring each other. I didn’t know what to do with myself, I was not a delicious snack, I couldn’t take anybody for a treat. Christian was now throning in his corner like a master of the ceremony. He must be attractive for women, because he was surrounded by women; there was his ex-girlfriend, who he brought with him from Holland, when he was first arriving in Denmark. But now he was kissing his new girlfriend, I gathered from the conversation that she was working on some morning TV on the telly, and just now had been promoted to the hosting duty of this show. I looked enviously at her delicious thighs, this was highlife!
I was making my way to the buffet table; to Christian’s wary eye I must have been quite outstanding in this scenery. I was the odd man out, what was this genetic flop doing in this select crowd? I was only half conscious, driven by boredom, habit and a mute animal urge to feed myself. I approached in my humble shaky way; here was a representative of a lower class, a light feast of blindness. A something which should never have been.
- You look incredible stupid.
I looked at his pale face. He was the commander-in-chief of the battle going on around us. This was the eye of the storm and it was quiet. The smoke was slowly wavering over his face. Somewhat his pale skin seemed to glow and had the air of marble slightly eroded. Like some monster emerged from deep sea he studied me with his brown felt eyes, with intelligence. Like a common black devil he had attracted me with his light. I was numb and defenseless. Deep in his eyes was a concealed pleasure, this was the bad boy of the school yard having made his first approach on a natural born victim. He had poked this incredible stupid looking creature, now how would it react? He could destroy me with his slightest yawn, should we have some fun? His face was set in the simplistic intense complexion of a carnivore watching a prey, and I was the rat, the mouse, the mosquito. Forever I was condemned to journey around and derive the little bit of humanity I could get by eating the crumbles from the grown up, the real peoples, table.
I had to decline this Mr. Kurtz, I mean what was in it for me? A feast on my shortcomings and inferiority? How charming! Was he about to make some art of my displaced features, put my blood in a plastic back, mix the gristle and sinews that I was with some excrements and urine? Properly yes. Well, I backed out. He had to proceed in his heathen ritual without me as the victim. I ignored him and turned away, shortly after I left the party, I think they were all relieved. But the sad thing was that Christian Lemmerz was absolutely right:-(
Anyway the next day my father’s girlfriend showed me this book, I looked into it, it looked interesting, I am quite keen on getting to know more about modern art, so I decided to read it, that’s why this review appear here, now.

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