Heiner Frost

The Exceptional of the Everyday

Foto: Rüdiger Dehnen


(Translation: Alexander Schlutz – Foto: Rüdiger Dehnen)

Things are not what they are. They are what we know, what we think about them. They are what we allow them to be. To see is to categorize.
The new does not exist, for we turn it into the old. The more precise the drawer, the more gigantic the disappearance.

A thing is only free while it has not yet become a graspable thought in the brain of the user/onlooker/listener. Whoever wants to give things their space needs to look at them constantly anew – needs to find new angles of observation. New positions. Art is thinking about things, and just as everybody thinks in different ways, everybody arrives in the end at different conclusions: In the process of making. In the process of using – which is the process of looking. Art is the constant renewal of the ordinary and the everyday. What remains ordinary becomes wallpaper without design. Quite often rituals hold our life together, but art in the best-case scenario is no ritual – it is a flight over known territory that is new every day. To explain art is perhaps an act of destruction…
Nevertheless a report on an exhibition is called for. It is one of those exhibitions that confirm things by way of dismantling them, or at least by bringing about new relations of thought. At issue is the litany of the seemingly everyday, onto which wings have been pasted. The name of the person exhibiting in the Museum Kurhaus Kleve (mkk) is … one almost wants to leave out the name, for somebody like Haim Steinbach has of course long become his own drawer, and sometimes nothing is more devastating then to be in competition with oneself. Nevermind – the name has been mentioned and is nevertheless beside the point, for the point of the thing and how to live it is the issue. What’s at stake is to dive into the everyday, which is resurrected in changed form a the other end of an unpronounceable thought – new every day. (Every single day.)
Letters can make a difference. Every day – that’s where the inescapably normal is at home. Every single day – that’s almost a prayer made of words.

Heimbach is one of those artists who allow things to be more than is usually granted to them. Things – they can be colors, objects, letters, agreements of perception. What’s being thought behind the word “steering,” depends on whether somebody is sitting in a car or thinks about a committee. That a color is called what it’s called does not describe its property, nor its quality. The fact that a house always had a door in a specific place is meaningless if somebody comes and walls up the opening. If a museum invites somebody like Steinbach to create an exhibition, it is to be expected that more will happen than the arrival of boxes that one can unpack in order to subsequently distribute their contents in the house. Somebody like Steinbach distributes the house itself anew and produces thought barriers that are none. Steinbach’s variation of things is an opening … if one is open to it. Somebody who isn’t open might grow lonely in an exhibition like Every single day and experience his or her freedom of contemplation as paralysis. (Which would be too bad.) One can see works from the past 30 years at mkk. Should one call something like that a retrospective? In the easiest case, this is an academic question, for Steinbach’s works are – as all great art always is – timeless. But what does timeless mean after all? The word is what we allow it to be. The slighter the warrant, the more narrow-minded the outcome. Every single day is an exhibition that leaves traces – an exhibition that one can take home, one that sinks its teeth into one’s conception, one that speaks of return, one that almost acts like a drug if one forbids oneself to think for a moment and settles into the direction of one’s feelings. The what’s-the-purpose-of-all-this question somehow is not an option. Steinbach needs coworkers, accomplices. Yes – it’s often enough described here: Things do not even exist if nobody is there to perceive them – to make a space for them in the well-proportioned attic of free thought. But this is also true: things survive us. Every single day tells of both these truths. Steinbach tells of things by getting things to tell stories – by giving them space and interrogating them. How do you interrogate a word, a color, a space? Maybe by going to the mkk and facing the answer.