Christina Penetsdorfer/Margit Zuckriegl: Dial Tone - About the new works of Stefan Heizinger


A connection is made. In the net of the current communication machinery the invisible threads cross each other frequency jungle of the coded strands of information. Constant availability and efficient implementation of the content transfer are the characteristics of a contently exchanging messaging society. Everything is commented on, everything gets fed into billions of relations, everything connected with everything. In these systematic without a beginning nor end the telegraph wire is a kindly old-fashioned ideal, in which – quasi taken from surrealistic film stills – thousands of voices swirl, thousands of earls listen, thousands of echoes rustle.  Beside one connection myriads of others swoosh by through the ether, next to hundreds one stays unanswered: Dial tone, unreachable, open, into nothing.


In the reference room of painting the connecting threads are strung from the historic to the contemporary, from the innovation to convention. There were young painters have, since hundreds of years, drawn upon older paintings for their own ones, there is also a closer exploration of the motivation and the implementation of this relation. Just how Rubens tried Tizian, how Velazquez copied but still changed Raffael, so one can, in postmodernism, talk about appropriation und adaptation, from alteration and extraction. The connection lines stretch a wide net of contentual equivalents to the parody, from insightful reverence to rebellious shattering, from subtle furthering similar to intentional alignment to abrupt mal-positioning: in the dial tone the search for the opposite oscillates, the wish for replicated arrivals resonates. When a painting of the artist Tom Sachs looks like an image by Peter Halley, then he simultaneously “builds” the system of his model, while at the same time drastically re-positioning it by leaving out the typical Halley color pallet and placing it into the Sachs’ian white cosmos.


Stefan Heizinger is an artist who construes threads to all possible reference images. His image sources for his combinatory works are photographs, digital found images from the web, reproductions from master paintings. His choices mostly return to a thematically repeating subject; in his newer work this is often depictions of entertainment, of personalities from the entertainment industry, Icons of the trivial, and often images at the edge of endurance, images of violence and terror, as well as Topoi, with which the sex and porno industry works. Heizinger helps himself, in his source material choices, to the wide image spectrum of the World Wide Web. Constantly available and constantly online – images without an end, even the most trivial and scariest is worth to be an image, from the vacation snap-shot to the victim of a rampage. In our society the act of helping oneself to anonymous image material and keeping them as a trophy is a legitimate way for a new stabilized individuality.  The connection lines that appear are the veins of a new art, which define selection and processing as the aesthetic strategy. The source material is, in a way, at the mercy of the artist. He processes and “translates” them in a lustful way, adds and reduces simultaneously, and reveals the truth underneath the surface in a transformation. The original image and its medial message that is aiming at affect, are caricaturized, the attempt of manipulation is exposed as a gesture, the empty feature uncovered.

 

The elements that are seemingly intuitively placed by Heizinger, which estrange and deform the original image lead to an ironic break in his work: cracks in the image reality that is presented to us by the media as “truth,” and which are a clue to our daily consumer habit. Like the image constructer Sigmar Polke helps himself to the practice of polemics and subversion, to acquire his image cosmogonies, so does the parodying Heizinger develop superficial colorful scenes that, in their feedback to art history, to media iconology, and to the private image culture, open up true gorges: the dial tone echoes through his image space, in which the lines of the pre- and after-image cross each other unknowingly. The sarcasm with which Heizinger assumes his image collection and the bitter wit, with which he interpretatively and manipulatively admits to it, makes him one of the big “tryers” and trap-layers in art history: El Greco was once, who let cities whirl into dark chasms, with Piranesi underlays rumbled in ancient ruins, Chaim Soutine strangled his landscapes and people into wild contortions – images into which the painter has infused the eerie, the starling, while simultaneously being a “sensation of the own inner,” says Stefan Heizinger.


If one sees art as never being timeless but always an immediate reaction to the time in which it was created, then Heizinger’s reaction is a question, riddled with skepticism, at our contemporary image-culture, its reception, and our own perception. On the one hand he directs the focus at the unreflecting consumer attitude, and on the other hand he relentlessly undresses the empty gestures of our mass culture that camouflage themselves with meaning. From this critically inspecting position he tests for the authenticity of the medial reality, which we are exposed to. He targets those manipulative images that sensationalize violence, pornography, or triviality. Heizinger’s skepticism of the validity of such images enables him his necessary distance for his defiant and subversive position. Through this, images are created, which move in the linier mesh of an art historic appropriation gesture, whose content in our society, of the total image over-kill, profits from its connotative dial tone and an exegetical denial.