Figures de Pensée
FIGURES DE PENSÉE
« Language is a labyrinth of paths. You approach from one side and know your way about; you approach the same place from another side and no longer know your way about. » (PU §203)
Often strange or funny, thought experiments are where philosophers dream; the places in their texts where imagination primes over reason; two famous examples, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Descartes’ Demon still move readers to this day. But what happens if we use these philosophical figures of thought and imagined scenes as scripts for creation? Could this be a way to develop new artistic and philosophical insights?
These questions formed the starting point for a collaboration between philosopher and curator Klaus Speidel and visual artist and performer Nikolaus Gansterer over two years, during which they read together the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, especially his "Philosophical Investigations" (1953). The common exploration slowly developed and extended beyond thought experiments, encompassing different passages of Wittgenstein’s text, where he uses imagery or poses particularly challenging questions. The outcome is the joint exhibition project "Figures de Pensée – Denkbewegungen", in which they try to capture, reflect and develop the subtle and often fleeting images that arise while reading the text. Through deliberately playful and performative cross-readings of individual paragraphs, exemplary thoughts are transformed into sketches and drawings or played out collaboratively on installative table settings (Playing Games with Ludwig, 2019-21), that may remind us of chess, which played an important role for Wittgenstein.
A walk through the exhibition "Figures de pensée /Denkbewegungen" with Nikolaus Gansterer and Klaus Speidel
In the context of the exhibition, Gansterer and Speidel draw substantially on the formal and conceptual material and methods that Nikolaus Gansterer has developed over the years, including performative drawing, chalk drawings, collections and constellations of objects, and visual transmissions of figures of thought. A special role is played by table constellations, each of which deals with a specific philosophical problem and shows traces of a performative reflection and discussion between artist and philosopher (Playing Games with Ludwig, 2019-21). Themes such as the value of blurring, recognizing and naming, remembering and forgetting, death and dying, appear prominently in Wittgenstein‘s texts and are mapped and played out based on his reflections.
Writing and reading as moments that enable access to philosophical thoughts are also repeatedly thematized and examined in drawings, for example when the sentence « I DON’T KNOW SUDDENLY THIS WORD SEEMS STRANGE TO ME « (L. Wittgenstein, MS 150, C6) is mounted on the wall with found materials or when reflections are repeatedly implemented in different forms in drawings.
In addition, the Remarks on the psychology of color and the impression of written words are important subjects in the show (Memories of Colour, Red Green, Yellow, 2021). The instructions for action, thought and imagination from Gansterers’ series "Objects yet to Become" are expanded on the basis of Wittgenstein’s text and the thought experiments that emerge in the process.
A comprehensive publication in collaboration with the publishing house ÉDITIONS DILECTA, Paris is released in Autumn 2022.
FIGURES DE PENSÉE. (Figures of Thinking / Denkbewegungen)
25 Sept 2021 - 13 Feb 2022
Centre d'art contemporain - Les Tanneries,
Amilly, (South of Paris), France.
Kindly supported by BMKOES, ACF - Austrian Cultural Forum Paris
Nikolaus Gansterer & Klaus Speidel
Publisher: Éditions Dilecta, Paris
Authors: Nikolaus Gansterer, Klaus Speidel, Eric Degoute, Roger Malbert
Dimensions: 21 x 28 cm
Language: bilingual English / French
Graphic Design: Gregoire Romanet
In Playing with Ludwig. Figures of Thinking, artist Nikolaus Gansterer and philosopher Klaus Speidel address fundamental questions of sense-making in language and visual forms. In a playful dialogue with the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, they tackle subjects like pain and pictures, colour and imagination, death and the materiality of language. Combining drawings, dialogues and installations, they devise a book that shows the traces of its own making.
The book Playing with Ludwig, Figures of Thinking, co-published with Les Tanneries - Centre d'art contemporain, is neither an exhibition catalog nor entirely an artist's book. Deliberately conceived as a hybrid editorial object, it prolongs reflexions that first became public with the exhibition Figures de pensée by Nikolaus Gansterer and Klaus Speidel in the Galerie Haute des Tanneries, from September 25, 2021 to February 13, 2022. As a play of philosophical and plastic dialogue by the artist-philosopher and the philosopher-curator around the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and in particular his Philosophical Investigations, the exhibition and the book are the result of a joint invitation from Éric Degoutte, director and head of programming, to the duo that was to form. Pursuing their interrogations on the forms of thinking in the book, the duo reformed as a trio with the graphic designer Grégroire Romanet, invited in as a third author to thus stage a three-way dialogue. Beyond the images alone, the book contains transcripts of many conversations in the years leading up to the publication of the book and a central booklet with the excerpts of The Philosophical Investigations that served as the basis for the artworks and dialogues, annotated with reflections and drawings.
Texts by Nikolaus Gansterer, Klaus Speidel, Éric Degoutte, Roger Malbert