mimesis, imitation, copy, doppelganger, lookalike, impersonation, reenactment, fetish, face, skin, mask, memory, pool, persona, container, packaging, technology, collection, archive, gift, economy, hybrid, craft, replica, commodity, fact, fiction, original, authenticity, identity, shape-shifter, transfer, reflection, shadow, ghost, death, home, household, museum, prothesis, artists, exotic, gaze, possession, anthropomorphic, animism, pattern, ornament, uncanny, vampire, tourism, usurpation, appropriation, mimicry, absence, void, fossile, decay, seriality, storage, sascha pohle
Text by Felix Ruhöfer
on the occasion of the exhibition at Lothringer 13 Halle, 2012
For several years now Sascha Pohle has been interested in the subject of the double and the complex relations between original and copy. Quotations from film, lookalikes, and cultural appropriations are all part of the repertory of his artistic practice.
It’s not the deficits of copies that interest Pohle in his imitations of popular figures or his decontextualizing appropriation of cultural values, but rather the faint shimmering of individuality discernible in the imitation.
Media representations of authenticity and individuality also have a distinct effect on identity formation. The acting out of a supposedly authentic subjectivity is often coupled to dominant aesthetic and pop-cultural paradigms, illustrating today’s extremely complicated articulation of individual self-images.
The films, photographs, and installational works show how media images are inscribed upon our collective experiences and fantasies.
Pohle’s innovative artistic practice repeatedly illustrates how ambivalent the interrelations of reality and fiction are in our media-mediated perception.
Where original and copy or the imitation of cultural and personal patterns figure in Pohle’s works, we see the artist’s deep-seated interest in the processes of the elaboration of individuality and in how things become bearers of meaning influencing subject formation.
In his films, appropriated materials, and photographs, copying and imitation are used to exhaustively examine authorship and the complex concept of authenticity. Again and again we see how our notion of individuality feeds on intricate cultural and social fields of reference, and how apparent uniqueness is unmasked as a construct. What is most intimately our own often consists of appropriated attributes, so that to a certain extent individuality can be described as a sum of power relations and cultural influences.
´Pohle’s artistic works appear to opt, then, for a cutting back on the idea of an autonomous, independent self-elaboration of the subject. Subject formation accruing from a wealth of collective and personal experiences and a host of appropriations and imitations is interpreted in Pohle’s art as a dynamic process involving multiple forces. In Sascha Pohle’s formally extremely heterogeneous work the authentic, autonomously developing, unique subject comes across as a construct based on imagination. The play of self-assertion and imitation that characterizes the articulation of our identity seems, rather, to be driven by a continual desire to find the Other in the Self, and the Self in the Other. Appropriation of the Other serves as a mirror of the Self, since in repeating individual gestures or collective cultural patterns imitation produces not a copy but an Other shot through with conscious and unconscious deviations and variations—and hence something new.
The role that the mediation and genesis of meaning and of individual uniqueness assume, as art, fashion, or as a means of social differentiation, becomes an increasingly central concern in Pohle’s most recent works. The object’s presence, its effect on the viewer, as well as the enactment of meaning and valence, are fundamental constituents of the hermeneutic process that constantly feeds our perception of the world. The presented thing as originary mediator of meaning, whether as artwork or consumer item, seems to acquire the status of a fetish that can become an end of desire. The enactment of the fetish seems to be a key moment and facilitator in producing desire. The aesthetic charging and presentation of things from exiguous utilitarian contexts and their transformation into supposedly significant, valuable objects creates a fetish which, to justify its significance, must ultimately appeal to its presence and performance.
Pohle’s analytical look at the formation of concepts such as authenticity, individuality, copy, and original also constantly speaks of the imagination the subject must subordinate itself to so as to continuously grasp itself as an autonomous Self within the complex processes of appropriation and repetition. Our fixation on the construct of an exclusively autonomously developed self, which would seem to be of central importance in contemporary personality development, offers an analogy to Lacan’s thesis that the start of mental development is characterized by an imagined bodily unity entirely capable of action. Lacan’s postulation of imagination’s coverage of the deficits that characterize the infant as a being incapable of autonomous life reappears, in a sense, in Pohle’s works. Lacan explains the imagined autonomy experienced by the infant looking in a mirror as a protective shield for the process of subject formation. In his art, Sascha Pohle illustrates a further function of the imaginative act that serves here as a protective shield to render invisible the antagonistic process of the synthesis of individual experiences and the ongoing appropriation, repetition, and imitation of social and cultural patterns, as well as the reformulation of our status as subjects that this always contains. We are always ourselves, particularly in repeating and appropriating the Other, which the Self craves, perhaps, in order to stay in touch with life.