Susanne Altmann
Runhild Wirth

»The physical condition of the archive is motion, flow.« Paolo Bianchi
Modifying the statement "Writing is Time" from Hanne Darboven, Runhild Wirth might state, "Painting is time"; gesturing conceptually with precisely the same intention, that is, making the inconceivability of the phenomena of artistic practice permanent. Oftentimes large quantities are used as material in order to achieve this and in many cases, the archive takes on the form of a basin for absorbing strategies of systematic accumulation that might function simply as a depository or as a mode of presentation. Or it could be at both at the same time, and this at least is the case with Runhild Wirth's work.
Contrasting with the numerical documentations of Darboven or of On Kawara or, with reservations, of Roman Opalka, Runhild Wirth approaches the concept of time by analyzing the conservation of movement sequences, her medium hereby being painting and her theme, film. No additional proof is needed to illustrate how invasively classics of film history have infiltrated art-findings these past 10 years. At the moment, this painter prefers black and white mountain films, although she insists that every image could be the source. In short, regular intervals she pulls out her camera in order to shoot images of the TV screen. The contact proofs now repeat the history of the “White hell of Piz Palu” in dumb, reduced form. The contact proof will serve as index for the time and movement archive later on. The strong graphic and painterly qualities of the originals are revealed in these handy picture miniatures; from snowfields to monochromes, interrupted by dark areas of wood, cliffs without snow, and especially, the insect-like, creeping chain of humans.
This is the point at which the actual work begins; the laying out of an archive out of frozen movement and time standing still. Runhild Wirth permits herself only five minutes to reproduce the individual photos onto the picture carriers just slightly larger than a postcard. This process recalls factory work and allots the film-still precisely as much or as little meaning as it has as visual building block of the whole.
Soon, so plans the artist, she will spare herself the trouble of taking an intermediate step and will, with the aid of a programmed time code as a maintainer of space and distance, paint directly from the screen. Reciprocally to the pioneers of movement analysis and cinematography Edward Muybridge or Etienne Jules-Marey, who had prepared the synthesis of movement previously, Runhild Wirth currently dismantles these types of sequences into their constituents. The results permit 120 years of technological advances to be all but forgotten: they disclose an astonishing view into the machinations of time and movement. The artist heightens the speed of her serial production method of many years very decidedly through these cinematographic image sequences. When she at one point, quasi Monet-like, collected daily impressions of the Elbe and Thames rivers, the specifications were comparatively slow. But already, she was taking on the experiment of accumulating time via image here and preparing it for archiving.
Finally, a museum style hanging presentation can be nothing more than a sub- variant for this work- as the idea of the archive would be seriously disturbed–and so it shouldn’t be a surprise if, consistent with the idea, only shrink-wrapped pictures for temporary use will exist in the shelves in the future.

Susanne Altmann, arthistorian/ curator

in german
werke projekte aktuell texte vita
runhild wirth
kontakt impressum