Visitors´ sweat



Portikus, Frankfurt/ M., exhibition: "Stuttgart, 17.7.1956 - Salem (Wis.)/ USA, 2.3.1977"

The particles of the visitors’ reality of existence are deposited across all museum surfaces – on the pictures and the walls between them.

It is imagined that the traces of an art audience’s presence are deposited on both pictures and walls. The walls are seen as condensation surfaces to collect that which passes by the artworks as excrements. For this purpose, channels are cut into the walls and receptacles are attached beneath them.


Contemporary art appreciation is based, above all, on understanding. Experience is regarded as too vague and, as such, too low a reception. The joy of simultaneous appearance, which may trigger contradictory affects, is discredited in favour of reading and a causal combination of the content.
However: → Not to understand is the basis of cognition.

It is difficult to escape the art explainers. They push themselves, for instance, audibly in front of a picture. To declare the work a document of its circumstances or to explain it at all, however, prevents its surprising inner appearance at the moment of recognizing its own parts in it. In addition, a hierarchical relationship to the knowing authority quickly emerges through what is to be known; if a competition of know-alls and the viewers’ fear of being inferior emerge, then an unbearable dominance arises that is wrongly attributed to the work itself.
The fear of not understanding obstructs an open and subjective approach to things. The feeling of being overwhelmed creates negative feelings, which are offset by defensive attitudes. Simplification or mockery are only means of pacification. Worship, too, up to the point of collapse fills the gap (Stendhal syndrome).

The defence against foreign interpretative control and the need for subordination thus cause stress – a probationary situation with known somatic consequences: visitors’ sweat. The latter must be collected. Visitors’ sweat is deposited on and alongside the artworks together with the dust that is brought in and whirled up.

Another aspect of the deposition on pictures is the projection of our knowledge and sensitivities at the moment of observation. Images change when they are viewed. One does not see the same picture twice. What we have already seen is laid down over it as an interpretative guide and changes perception like a filter. We no longer see Cézanne. For we no longer see Cézanne without knowing Picasso.

Perhaps the clouding and darkening of old pictures are only the shadows of the glances that fell over the pictures over the course of many years.

Finally, it should be noted that the tree resins originally obtained by this bark-cutting method were a raw material used for the production of lacquer coatings.


Loads of words and glory, Mr Mighty