Markus Hofer – The madness of the glance
Elisa del Prete; 2008
Markus Hofer. The madness of the glance. It is possible that a bored vase indicates the hour of the umpteenth day which it passes along the road carrying plants, or that the rebellious curl of a rail-guard escapes literally under your glance in order to jump into the next window. The truth that encircles us offers much more possibilities than the one which we are accustomed to take into consideration. The visible truth, the things, the objects, the persons, the situations, carry in themselves a microcosm that goes beyond their functional or relational appearance in the macrocosm. They contain all what we need, for the practical life, but also for the contemplative one, of which it is an unconditioned and inescapable point of departure. Art succeeds to render the truths’ possibilities which are going beyond the visible ones, true and tangible, realizing a vision, a glance, a thought.
Markus Hofer operates exactly in this manner. His way of looking at the things turns the original form and function into something new, that, however, doesn’t lose the tie with the original object from which it drifts. His interventions, which are very concrete in their refined aesthetic aspect, use those characteristics as a starting point which have already been pertaining to the truth that encircles them. Its’ meanings are upgraded, emphasized, multiplied. The existing truth becomes a point of departure that is not to be cited, but to be disarticulated, to be unhinged in its certainties. By that new answers to what surrounds us are being searched.
Actions, objects, forms and colours generate horizons of possibilities. Placed into a context that has already its structure and independent composition, that is already an independent image in our reality, formed by spots, forms, lines and colours. The objects which Markus Hofer produces begin to exist beyond their original function generating a “ritual […], that, from the point of view of life, is absurd, but able to attract the object in the art’s sphere”1. Every object, also the most banal one, reveals an unexpected essence, by either being extrapolated from its usual aspect or being freed from its functional structure, in order to serve art, to be placed inside the illusory space of the image.
The interventions of Markus Hofer have become strongly narrative; they generate images that become an incentive for stories which everybody of us can adopt as one's own. Every intervention, placed in a fixed context from which it never can detach, allows something to succeed. Every intervention interrupts the time which we are living in, so that another level of perception is created. Every intervention becomes a part of the consistency of truth in order to become a tangible surreality. Hofer offers us his cognitive glance on a truth that has to be discovered: what will slide in the tubes, which kind of life will be led in Markus Hofers’ study inside a house in Bologna?
In this way the site specific interventions of Markus Hofer are related to the truth and its complexity in a transversal way, not directly, joking with optical illusions. Thanks to his point of view, the interventions of the artist do not declare, neither document facts, but they attack our daily imaginary in a controlled and supervised way, yet never in a pure spectacular manner. The case, “the faith in the possible miracle” of the theatre of Alfred Jarry is always part of his actions. In this way, the actions of Hofer refer to the practise of the Theatre of the Absurd; a practise that pursues the value of truth, that cancels the stage and limits the distance from the public in order to enter the real life as an action; a practise that proposes itself to give the answer to the need of believing in what we see, of being aware of one's role as a participant not of a performance, but of an “event” of one's own existence.
The artist, who has been invited to Bologna for the program of residence of Nosadella.due2, has given life to a dialogue with the characteristics of the city and the materials that were given to him. Voluntarily landed in a city without any instrument, every necessity has been fulfilled in situ, through personal research on the one hand and through adaptation to the offered possibilities on the other hand. The Bologna’s Interventions have thus taken life as a result of the artists' point of view and his always acute imagination in reference to the context in which he had to work, becoming interruptions of distance for the citizens, who, on a first level, credited the extravagance in regards to daily life, but who did not understand its origin. This was rendered possible also thanks to the elegant discretion with which all the interventions have been distributed all around the town, thanks to the intelligence with which the most banal urban material has been transformed into aspects for the imagination, thanks to an abuse of public spaces in order to create enrichment without any damage but indeed through the generosity of a total concession to the citizens.
Any intervention of Hofer damages the structures with which he converses, any intervention is invasive or permanent, but as a fantastic image it is left to the course of its time which transforms or cancels it. His traces in the places are always minimal because they want to receive attention and because they do not want to alter the state of perception, but they seek to become a part of it, as disturbing elements, sometimes as ironic questions about life and its forms. On the other hand, there are the same people who are involved in his works. The things, which any person could offer him, become material of research, of enrichment and of discovery. The astonishment that every work generates is first of all his own astonishment and beyond that, the one of the others’ glance. The public cannot remain distant, because what Hofer displays is what already belongs to the public. The artist asks to his audience a deep adhesion and a strong complicity in order to encourage a discussion of its senses, its experiences, its convictions, to oppose itself to every element that leads to the stabilization of a superficial acquaintance.
In this way, Hofer’s work is as audacious as arrogant, digs in deep and demands always participation. At the same time, the great skill that characterizes it, is the “lightness”, the ability to elaborate and to realize “light” projects, in which humour never lacks, but which succeed in being humorous also in their own realization. The great versatility that characterizes the production of his interventions in the places, translates and tells an actual condition of mobility: physical mobility, but also the necessity of adapting to different contexts.
A kind of mobility that is an attribute of our era and which has also imposed the necessity of lightness on the artistic expression, the ability to adapt itself to new situations, to adapt the own practise to the circumstances. Today, for the artistic way of working, it has become an unavoidable requirement to work with little, with what is available, but also with what is found day by day within the different contexts, giving a certain flexibility to a part of the artwork. The material becomes therefore less important, often difficult to find or subject to more and more specific requirements, while the creativity becomes the protagonist. The operation, also in its autarchy, must find its place in the complexity that encircles it, has to get in contact with the pluralism of the identities of the world, and not to fall down from space like an UFO. Markus Hofer is exceling just in this. In transforming the artwork into a cognitive process of truth, beginning from the one which is nearer. And he succeeds with little and through a peculiar approach like irony, that he has adopted, still to the part of the theatre practise, also an appearance of life, in order to transform in a comical manner the tragedies of existence.