Wolfgang Voigt at suns.works

Artist: Wolfgang Voigt

Exhibition title: Wald/Loops

Curated by: Lorenzo Bernet

Venue: suns.works

Date: August 1 – 28, 2020

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and suns.works

Anyone who visited a well-stocked record store in 1997 encountered a striking new release. On the cover a red-hot dark forest, in the middle the word “GAS” with all its ambivalent associations – incomprehensible, invisible, threatening, flammable. On the back a variant of the picture, in the middle the word “Zauberberg”, the title of Thomas Mann’s monumental sanatorium novel, a very German, very culture-bourgeois reference. The diffusely suggestive-seductive cover did not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the music, but promised dark intensity through the image and title, suggesting a media competence by the use of specific text and image. It appeared to be a concept album, a rarity in the late 1990s. The music on the record then corresponded precisely to the expectations raised: hazy billows of sampled loops from 19th century orchestral music, layered on top of one another; crackling noise, which indicated that recordings were being recycled here, sometimes backed by a four-to-the-floor bass drum, familiar from clubs. The album was ambient, techno and concept pop at the same time, and provocatively seemed to align itself with a cultural historical tradition – a heresy in the techno age with its “tabula rasa” aesthetic. The band name, title, cover and music were almost mirror images, a perfect Pop-Gesamtkunstwerk.

This correspondence between music and image, its conceptual indistinguishably, one could say, is characteristic of Wolfgang Voigt’s oeuvre. His musical projects under a variety of names, under which “GAS” has become the main thing over the years, have always been characterized by clear visual identities. The epoch-making techno / ambient label Kompakt, which he co-founded and co-operates with, consistently pursues a strategy of musical-visual analogies, confirming the Rhineland spirit of good neighborhood between visual art and pop. The visual is not just packaging, but equal and independent and can exist for itself, just like the music. The basic principle of both is the loop, the repetition of a structure, sometimes identical, sometimes with slight variations. The visual source material is alienated, often reduced, then repeated; patterns emerge, creating a very specific temporality of vision, an oscillation between the whole and the sub-element. The loop distances and eliminates the flatly contentual and creates a possibility of precise seeing and hearing that is clear and intoxicating at the same time.

Text: Martin Jaeggi, (translated from German)

Wolfgang Voigt (*1961) is an artist and music producer based in Cologne. Latest exhibition projects include: Black Album / White Cube, group exhibition, Kunsthal Rotterdam NL, 2020; Hyper, group exhibition, Deichtorhallen Hamburg DE, 2020; Trance (curated by Albert Oehlen, Music: Wolfgang Voigt), Aïshti Foundation, Lebanon 2019; Albert Oehlen / Wolfgang Voigt: Baum 3, Jablonka Galerie, Böhm Chapel, Hürth Kalscheuren, DE, 2016.