White Love, #1 Diptych, 20 x 40 x 10 each 2 layers transparent paper, graphite, watercolor pencil and human milk, backlit with LED (private collection)
,WHITE LOVE #2, 2019 4 Diptych, 30 x 60, electrical conductors, cables 2 layers graphite, watercolor pencil and human milk, backlit with LED On view @ Kang Contemporary
“tlhIngan maH. taHjaj” vs. “where no one has gone before” Helge Oder on WHITE LOVE
Temporarily making the subject of the painting "disappear" by painting it with milk that is initially invisible and the subsequent "burning" and visualization are at first glance a metaphor for the perpetual admission of violence through political, economic and cultural contexts as well as their occasional visibility in form of spectacular and revivifying individual acts. For example, the Smith & Wesson revolver, which was used to shoot Nguyễn Văn Lém by a high-ranking police officer, faces Glock 17, which is used by police to shoot African Americans and members of other minorities and arbitrarily criminalized groups in the United States almost every day. The dissecting gaze of milky painting reveals structures that cement violence and power worldwide and across epochs in their similarity. The soothing, nurturing and mundane banality of milk makes it possible to see painful interconnections more clearly.
But the visual analysis goes deeper than just denouncing abuses and opening new perspectives on what is. The painting phenomena are the result of complex factors: On the one hand, the choice of technical devices as motifs. These products of modern development and manufacturing are composed of pre-formated, shaped, separated and bonded individual parts. The result is closed forms with mostly straight, parallel or orthogonal joint edges and angles - perforated by ergonomic details such as handles and controls, which form usage. Milk painting as a sequential process of gesture, empathy and chemical process completely dissolves this formal-technical connection. The result is random and peculiar, free of power and domination, embodying the depicted objects. Complex technical devices and installations as a material and ideological basic structure of modern societies are particularly suitable for being aesthetically reconfigured in this way. And at the same time there is a transformation that takes place: the viewer aesthetically experiences ideas for future developments - by drawing a new framework in the form of independent artistic reflection, which is at the same time its own content. Let us return to the individuals: seeing one's own life as a form of design, in resonance instead of conformity to pre-determined structures requires well-honed skills – and even more trust. As a craftsman and artist, I know from first hand experience how trusting in one's own carefully developed skills and abilities alleviates fear. We know things. We can react to our immediate material surroundings and work to incrementally transform them. In our heads and in reality, as a sort of mental material formative manual labor. ANTIFA is incremental manual labor, was recently said. Institutional frameworks that create trust within which these abilities can unfold and develop are just as important. We are dealing with individual and institutional skill as well as their permanent interconnected development, so that we all can with awareness and serenity, transform and continue to explore places that were previously inaccessible, and bravely advance to look where nobody has ever looked before. In reality as well as in our own heads. The milky images give a new kind of aesthetic outlook on how such a transformative labor might succeed. Helge Oder, 2018
On view left, lower image, Landing Strip for the Milky Way, 2019