breeze ll

a performance of the audience - textile installation 2023

With the 4 x 5 x 6 m large installation breeze, the Frankfurt artist Toni Wombacher plays in the Old Village Church Hausen. 28 hand-dyed 7.5 square metre poppy-red cloths waft through the church. The audience walks through the installation to enter the nave. In doing so, the visitor is touched by the cloths. One could speak of a performance by the audience. The exhibition space of the Kunstverein ZAK shines in a red wind.

Speech at the opening of the exhibition

breeze ll

Hausen Old Village Church, 18.06.2023

by Edwin Schäfer

If you are listening to this text at this moment, it can be assumed that you have already completed the performance of the audience. They have walked through Toni Wombacher's installation breeze ll and have entered the church space of the Hausener Dorfkirche. Now, on a second level, it seems necessary to underpin this experience conceptually in order to make it conscious and lasting in a certain way.

Toni Wombacher has created a kind of sluice, a membrane that separates the exterior space from the interior of the church and at the same time creates a transition and a connection.
The poppy-red, hand-dyed cloths are hung lengthwise so that it is easy to walk through and look through them. Neither the passage nor the view is obstructed, as would be the case with any kind of door, for example. The cloths moved by the wind create a different kind of passage. And they define an outside and inside in a different way. These cloths give the passageway a presence and thus a duration that initially holds the visitor, stops him in his desire to enter the space. At the moment of entering, they lead to a new self- and body-awareness in the moment of transition and not least change the perception and atmosphere of the church space as a whole. The colour temperature changes. One can see that all the colours in the church now contrast with this poppy red of the cloths. But it would also be hasty to simply claim that Toni Wombacher has created a welcoming situation. The cloths are moved by the draught of air and they are thus transformed into something essential. In their movement they touch the person entering and in turn demand the touch of the recipient. It requires a certain amount of getting involved in the situation before one can overlook it. It would be an exaggeration to speak of a maelstrom that awaits one there, but nevertheless, in order to give space to the poetry of this work, one should certainly courageously surrender oneself to the eddies and swirls of this red gorge, in order to become not only a participant, but the determining protagonist of this performance of the audience. This work can only attain its own essence through the presence of the viewer. It only becomes complete when the audience performs it again and again.

This version of breeze is the second realisation of this installation. The first took place at the Kunstverein Familie Montez in Frankfurt last year and was located in a windowless passageway that made it impossible to view the installation from the outside. From the very first moment, the visitor was inside the installation. He had no choice and no possibility to look back at the installation, he was a participant and a performer within the work from the very beginning. In contrast, here in the Hausen village church there is now the possibility to look at the work from a distant viewpoint, to walk around it, to look at it from different distances, and even from above.

And this leads to the question of how this work is to be understood as a painting in the broadest sense. On this side of the question of what physical and perhaps psychological experiences breeze ll gives us, this installation is also to be understood as a commentary on contemporary minimalist painting. We see a painting that has abandoned very many of its traditional parameters in order to reach a point of concentration that is perhaps not achievable by conventional means. Or to put it another way, what means of painting are left in Toni Wombacher's painting? We have rectangular cloths that have been dyed by hand. Which leads to an uneven, to a certain extent hand-made application of paint. No brushes were used and there is no stretcher frame on which the paintings could be presented wall-wise. The contact, the artist's access, is thus many times more direct, more immediate, and for this very reason does not lose itself in a traditional notion of expressive gesture or seemingly personal expression. We experience the colour in a state of the greatest possible purity and concentration. The presentation of the cloths is on wires, free and moving in space, floating straight. This movement creates something essential. The viewer is confronted with a seemingly living being, which in turn seems to pose questions to the viewer. The dynamism that the red radiates anyway is heightened once more and in a certain way liberates the painting to itself. In this way, Toni Wombacher creates two situations, on the one hand, a performative spatial experience, and on the other, a new aspect of contemporary painting, and you should really perceive them both with pleasure, immerse yourself physically in this red and let it have an equally contemplative effect on you in this wide church space.

time lapse installation breeze II