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Elisabeth Brockmann : Projections, Prints, and Lightboxes

Projections, Prints, and Lightboxes by Elisabeth BrockmannGerman artist Elisabeth Brockmann was born in 1955. From 1975-1981, she studied painting under Gerhard Richter in Düsseldorf. After that, she received grants to practice in Paris and New York. Her work has been displayed across Germany, as well as in Paris and Warsaw; and multimedia installations have been displayed in Germany and Austria. Ms. Brockmann participates in German theater, her work has been featured
in three books, and she also teaches art.

Irritating Stares
Fascinating and threatening –
Elisabeth Brockmann's installation at Residenz-Theater in Munich

Birgit Sonna
Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, February 2001

A stare which does not let you go, a stare which follows you even after you fall asleep. As if to observe, a huge pair of eyes—a cold, glassy, hypnotic stare—follows the passers by in Max-Joseph-Platz. The blue-green iris reflects nothing but the thick eyelashes.In Marstall-Theater last december eyes with similar empty stares could be seen in in many different variations flitting across the walls like shifting wall paintings.

The artist Elisabeth Brockmann took the eyes of plaster of mannequins and worked on them until they became more and more similar to human eyes.
Now the artist has projected deceptively realistic eye imitations onto the 23 meters long glass front of the wintergarden of the Munich Residenz Theater. The digital mystery is continued inside the theatre. Thanks to a special mirroring technique the magic stare is reversed and persues the visitors to the theatre like a stubborn shadow. "If you focus intensely on reality, you find yourself very soon in a world which seems unreal," says the 45-year-old artist.

In Brockmann´s projected mises en scene the exhibition rooms become stages filled with layers of suggestive imagery. Real people on the other hand are presented as animated objects. She was highly praised in 1996 for the two-way mirror stage construction for Hanny Schygulla`s solo performance in the Elfriede Jelinek-play "Ich möchte seicht sein" (Marstall, Munich). Brockmann does her experiments with digital techniques in the noman`s land between the real and the virtual world. Which seems all the more bizarre, if one ever meets Brockmann personally. Her pragmatic and resolute manner gives the impression that she would be able to manage a tax consultancy.


"I would like to create spaces, which people are deeply stirred by and that produce a strong magnetic attraction," says the artist. In everything that she does, a certain intrepidity is her trump card. When one of her best friends died of Aids she even tried her hand as a writer. Her novel based on real life "Weinen kannst Du, wenn ich tot bin" appeared in 1993 and is maybe no literary triumph, but she was still able to describe the painful farewell in such a bonedry style, that the dialogues are engraved on the mind like small pinpricks. During the time of mourning she started a relationship with the dead friend`s partner. The ménage à trois, which was filled with crises in the beginning, is still going on and has become a challenge which she would not like to have missed.

She talks about such intimate details in the conversation as if she was talking about eating habits. Anyway she is no longer sure of her sexual identity. It is not surprising that also her artistic figures have an androgyne appearance.

In press releases and reviews the journalists never fail to mention that Brockmann is a former student of Gerhard Richter. But this is a chapter in her biography which only makes her shrug her shoulders. Even during her studies she became bored with painting. In 1981 she won a scholarship to study painting in Paris. As soon as she had bought an easel, she found this action completely absurd. So instead she went to the cinema, sometimes four times a day, and discovered new icons. For some time she obsessively reproduced individual scenes from filmbooks. "This is how I got away from painting."

"I always used quotations when I tried to say something about life," Brockmann says alluding to figures borrowed from ancient Greek and Roman art, which she includes in her projections like memories of a bygone era. She tries to preserve the old allegoric formulae with technoid perfection. Why the recent preoccupation with eyes? "If we look into peoples eyes, we see the truth—that`s what we think." We happily become victims of this self-deception, she says. However the artist believes, that every deception offers us the possibility to know ourselves. And there is something of the late romantic spirit of the mechanical puppet Olympia from E.T.A. Hoffmann`s narrative in Brockmann´s reflections: She shows that the human image stiffens into death masks, the more one holds on to naturalistic models.

Erotic on the Internet

The artist wants to continue her research on the triumph of reality in the age of virtuality in every possible area of multimedia communication. For this reason she recently started an erotic contact over a chat channel on the Internet. She pretended to be an attractive 22-year old brunette. For a while the Internet romance blossomed wonderfully. But when Brockmann started to come out with some details of her true identity, the responses of her virtual partner started to become more hesitant, until they finally dried up altogether. "Was I too blatant?" Brockmann asked herself. She even blamed herself like an unhappy lover. "Isn`t that real life, too!" This question comes from an artist who created eyes as if they were from real life. Who can contradict her?

Learn more about Elisabeth Brockmann at www.Elisabeth-Brockmann.de.


Projections, Prints, and Lightboxes
by German Artist Elisabeth Brockmann

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All work in this ARTerrain Gallery is copyright © by Elisabeth Brockmann. All rights reserved. No work may be used or reproduced without consent of the artist.

The "Irritating Stares" introduction to Elisabeth Brockmann and her work is courtesy Birgit Sonna, and is reprinted by permission of the artist.



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