In 2018 I published the visual essay “Lighter than Air” in the annual magazine of the Landesverband Bildende Kunst, Saxony. The thematic frame was “original and copy”. In 2019 I was invited to the exhibition “PARADIGMA Blickwechsel – copyright”. This probably because of the attention paid to “lighter than air”. It was obvious to take up this imagesy in order to develop a narrative installation that deals with the relationship to one’s own sources. The result was a Wunderkammer, an archive, a spatial collection of sources on the theme “Lighter than Air – World Trips”, journeys through the Warburg universe.
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” (2008-10). 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.
Why was the electric chair invented? How does a dog speak to his master? In this exhibition, Fabian Reimann attempts to get to the kernel of the brute, in the Faustian sense, of a world in artificial light.
Around 1900, the world became factual. It was solved piece by piece; they had disassembled the smallest building blocks of life into atoms and did research on the mind and psyche of man. There were universal questions that became obsessions for some people: Where does the energy come from that keeps everything in motion and living? And are we constantly surrounded by this energy? The drive to research, ingenuity, and an organizational blindness connected therewith are topics that are brought together with three historical figures and their works in the exhibition »Reiter auf dem Sturm« (Rider of the Storm).
Alsos, Epsilon, Toothpaste – behind this title of the 2012 exhibition was the Allied intelligence missions from 1944-45. The aim was to arrest the German nuclear physicists, the representatives of the “Uranium club„ and to find out to what extent the Third Reich had developed a nuclear weapon.
Among other things, the exhibition dealt with the universal world formulas of the 20th century. From the discovery of the atom and nuclear fission as a way of harnessing new energy potentials, there was a connection to the universality claims of the avant-garde of art: the interned in a country house near Cambridge physicist, Constantin Brancusi’s infinite pillar and the crystal as a metaphor of modernity to one formal aesthetically consistent from space, light, shadow drawings and lost form.
The spatial essay »Überflieger« traces moments of the history of illegal air reconnaissance in the Cold War era. In this story, the beginnings of tactical aerial reconnaissance, as they are carried out today by drones and satellites, and show us through media images or bsp. google earth in handling seem quite natural.
In the center stands a story that ends on the morning of February 8, 1962. The US soldier Francis Gary Powers is in the no man’s land between Potsdam and Berlin. Here, on the Glienicke Bridge, the first Cold War agent exchange will take place: Powers returns to the USA. His mission »Operation Overflight« had failed when he was shot down with his U2 reconnaissance plane over the Soviet Union.
“Das geteilte Wissen” is a twisted thing of a title to translate from German while its meaning is shared as well as divided. The spatial essay deals with “German National Library” in three different groups of works, starting with a very personal experience: “When I was young and free of worry I founded a literary publishing house with a focus on contemporary poetry in 1993, I wasn’t aware that this company would economically never work out. I wasn’t either aware why two copies of each book were dutifully delivered to Frankfurt am Main and to Leipzig. It became clear to me lateron.“
For two years until 2014, I worked intensively about the German National Library in Leipzig and Frankfurt am Main. The history of this “memory of German writing“ at the two sites shows the cultural impact of the Cold War and the German division. After the end of World War II, there were considerable doubts in West Germany about future cooperation with the Soviets. As early as 1946, the “Deutsche Bibliothek” was founded in Frankfurt am Main – under considerable protests from Leipzig – as a counterpart to the “Deutsche Bücherei” in the so-called Soviet Occupation Zone.
The Long Now is a composition of sound, light, reverberations and projections. It deals with the space of the church in general and the perception of time, the “here and now” and eternity.
Traditionally, churches staged an experience of sound and light and a infrastructure for transcendency, that have been exceptionally for centuries. Churches were the place for great social events and rituals. In here, the limitations of ones own physical existence has been manifested, which is short compared to the ideas of eternity that the church tradition declares.
These considerations are the foundations of the multi-sensory and site-specific work by Fabian Reimann and Phillip Schulze, which will be presented in two phases. The first phase of The Long Now will take place in the summer of 2017 and serves as the foundation for the second phase, which will be on display for a period of one year. For the visitor it is impossible to remain at site the entire duration of the work. Therefore, the Installation reflects the impossibility of comprehending eternity in spite of all knowledge.
In the first phase of The Long Now, two medieval bells receive the greetings from humanity that have been travelling through space for the past 40 years on the Voyager-2 probe. Activated by human speech, the bells reverberate into the church and its surroundings, while simultaneously projections are displaying images of the smallest and largest perspectives of our worlds, of atoms and distant planets.
I knew H. G. Wells as the world famous author of utopian and fantastic novels. Working on „The World Set Free“ I got more into his over. His great interest in the Soviet Union was less known until than. His travels there he summed up in the book „Russia in the Shadows“ in 1921. Fabian Reimann has selected significant quotes from the conversation with Lenin, the Dreamer in the Kremlin, in his latest work SIC!. In 1934 Wells interviewed Stalin. The publication „Stalin Wells Talks“ gained great popularity as if gave insight to the USSR. At this time the manipulations of photographs started of which the most famous example is Lenin’s speech of 1920 in front of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Trotsky and Kamenev disappeared from the photography. In Reimann’s work, the image is divided into six components, in which the audience also disappearing through Lenin, speeches, population and city. The Raumessay raises questions about the general perplexity of history, which find their answer between steering and indifference.
The six year old son of a friend says: My mother comes from a country that doesn‘t exist anymore. A simple phrase that made me think. This concerns some European countries. States like (their) languages and cultural interaction are based on agreements and conventions. A state as a shared organism is a relatively recent idea in humanity’s history. And its requirements and conditions, as well as the State itself, are timeless in their appearance only.
Within the work »Les Anciens Premiers « some states have been chosen as examples. They existed in the 20th century and were members of the Warsaw Pack in the Cold War era: German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. By the portraits of the rulers as representatives of their states I manufactured some history wheels on which, in the shape early cinematography or fortune wheels, the faces of those rulers alternate. They rotate in a circle and are being projected.
This didn‘t only occur to me: Nearly every story of utopian places end by the sinking or getting lost of such a place of another similar way. Or the maps leading to those places got lost—and the way to them is lost too, forever.
Stories of utopian places describe models of different ways of communities, reflecting the societies of the authors’ contemporary situation. I made a collection of the names of utopian places, sorted by categories, cities, countries, islands, planets, and put them on signposts. Its shape is one of several variations of obeliscs which I found as being used within the first mapping of time by my knowledge.
In the year 1694 all important routes of mail and trade in Saxony were officially mapped in by distances, and the mail fees were calculated after the invention of the »kursächsische Postmeilensäulen«. This system economized time, it revolutionized the speed of transport. The work of stagecoaches was simplified and optimized, there were less excuses for being late different to our use today, the signpost didn‘t show the distance in miles but by the time it takes to reach the destination. The series »Postsäulen« (mail pillars) is divided into quarter, half and full mile distances.
Following the topic of mapping I developped a world map of 38 squares which shows personalities, individual world drafts, the legacies of colonialization and different forms of massive madness in general.