The Surveyor

Spacial Essay, 2008-2010

The Surveyor consists of: »One Second Distance«, the double exposed photograph of Anthony Blunt in his study, the »Poussin Lecture«, a black board with the catalog of the Poussin-exhibition edited by Anthony Blunt, and »Freedom of Information Act« a Tesla-taperecorder and a series of 18 Carbon-copies.


The stories of humanity and its civilization begin with the emergence of memory and commemoration. As man begins burying and honoring his dead, he considers himself a link in a chain. His identity and self-conception develop therein. This is why it is not surprising that many artists, including Fabian Reimann, give memory such a great importance in their art. Reimann’s (...) deals with the era of the Cold War that begins at the end of the Second World War, as early as 1945 at the Yalta conference, and comes to its end with the German reunification in 1990 and the collapse of the Soviet empire. During the Cold War, two ideologies and models of society based on a fundamentally different anthropology are in conflict. Even if the social, political, and military confrontation between the east and west is long over, the different concepts of man that appear behind these ideologies are in reality far from obsolete. It is this thought that has led sculptor Fabian Reimann to deal with this part of history using images which he either found or created himself. 

And so he gathered in book 7 of his »Freeman’s Journal«, of which a total of ten have been released in the meantime, scenes from James Bond movies that show the »secret agents of her majesty« (...) with various women. Bond’s dominance constantly becomes clear in these encounters. Frequently, the women are at the service of the enemy. Bond’s victories, then, do not only represent male dominance in the battle of the sexes, but also the dominance of the social system that he represents. This appears all the more outlandish when bond’s macho behavior is read against the background of the liberation of the woman in the socialist states. Precisely this »double lecture« determines every look that Reimann takes at his material. While the naïve moviegoer can be dazzled and seduced by anything »retinal« (Marcel Duchamp) or visual in an image, Reimann’s point is to work out the symbolic wealth of his subjects in his installations and collages. The title »Freeman´s Journal« couldn’t be any more ambivalent. On the one hand, it subverts the western claim to freedom during the Cold War, on the other hand he pronounces the artist’s freedom to handle his material.


Also symbolic for the contradictions of the Cold War in his person and biography is the English art historian and double agent Anthony Frederick Blunt (1907-1983). Fabian Reimann deals with him in the multi-part installation “The Surveyor” (2008-09). The title refers to Blunt’s position as the director of the Queen’s Gallery, the royal collection of paintings. As a professor for art history at London and Oxford Universities, he is writing an important book about Poussin, which Reimann’s work »Poussin Lecture« refers to. Despite his immersion in the fine arts, Blunt keeps a sharp eye on the contradictions of his time. They lead him, a student in Cambridge, to Marxism. In the thirties he decides, because of the passive attitude of his country in respect to fascism, to work as a spy for the Soviet Union. During the outbreak of the Second World War, he becomes a double agent. A form of existence that couldn’t be any more difficult and whose schizophrenia is highlighted in Reimann’s superimposition »One Second Distance.« In the sixties, Blunt’s cover is blown. In his interrogation files later released, which Fabian Reimann’s carbon drawings document, the facts are blackened out. Thus, Blunt’s real motives remain a blind spot for the projections of the viewers.