In twelve minutes, Austrian artist Gernot Wieland tells a deep and absurd story about the yearning for individual freedom and about collective compulsion to conform. With tragicomic childhood memories and reflections on life as a Kafkaesque short story, as well as childish pencil drawings, plasticine figures, metaphorical Super 8 film footage of staircase climbs, and mysterious crystal objects formed from wooden sticks, Wieland captivates our attention. Fact meets fiction; dynamic narrative meets poetic visual sequences and a hypnotic soundscape. In the conflation, a magical realism unfolds.
From the first-person perspective, but distanced by an Austrian-tinged English, Wieland recounts the dress-up adventures and emigration dreams of a school friend that ended with his admission to a psychiatric hospital and a diagnosis of ›schizophrenia‹. The consequences for the first-person narrator are ›deportation‹ to an ›uncle‹ and the internalization of the collective mythology of his village, which considers the imitation of crystal figures as a coping strategy for grief and anxiety states. On a visual level, some images function as documents underpinning the narrative, others illustrate the absurdities of everyday life, and yet others are attempts to review existing and perceived power relations conceptually. Guiding the multi-layered narrative is a general amazement about how we got here. In an affectionate and humorous way, Wieland deconstructs a childlike universe and visualizes the hidden ruins of the collective psyche, which are inherited but which we do not have to confront powerlessly. In Ink in Milk, the memories are not closed narratives, but living stories that unravel, reconnect, and allow us to find ourselves. The projection of the video onto the back of a closet epitomizes the first-person narrator's experience of exclusion by a teacher who kept a list of the ›non-conformists‹ and punished them with perfidious methods. Thus, Wieland allows us to physically re-experience becoming aware of one's own body. »How we place our bodies in relation to each other is the start of politics«, is one of Wieland's central statements in the video.
In the end, Ink in Milk shows a possible way out how we can write our own narrative and resist the compulsion to inscribe ourselves in a collective narrative. The world of fantasy and imagination lives on in a normative society, just like the ›dancing animals‹ in a mixture of ink and milk. (Ieva Akule)
It's always a curiosity, or rather a monstrosity, to find out where art begins. Where does your own desire and ideas begin, which you can develop as far as possible from your imprint? As a kid, I drew maniacally and thought it´s normal. A friend of my childhood has become a psychotherapist, and he once asked me how many drawings I had made in my childhood, like 500 or 1000? Through his physical response to my answer, about 120,000 - 125,000, I realized that maybe it was not so normal to spend entire afternoons making drawings. We also played football, beat each other, stole, cigarettes in particular, a normal childhood on the county side so to speak, in addition to that an incredible boredom. To the speechlessness that characterized us children and the threat of education I wanted to juxtapose my own narrative, even if it were just scribblings. This desire to outline one's own narration and one's own reality emerged very early in my life, and of course later in my work. (Gernot Wieland; Excerpt from an interview with Kristina Marberger)
Images: Gernot Wieland, Fear of Memory. Pigment print 27x36cm; Aus: Ink in Milk, 2018 © Gernot Wieland
Gernot Wieland, Fear of Daydreaming. Pigment print 27x36cm; Aus: Ink in Milk, 2018 © Gernot Wieland
Gernot Wieland, Jay Jay Hiding Behind the Door. Ink, pencil, collage, potato print on paper 29,7x42cm; Aus: Ink in Milk, 2018 © Gernot Wieland
Gernot Wieland, Meadow and Cattle. Ballpoint pen on paper 21x29,7cm; Aus: Ink in Milk, 2018 © Gernot Wieland
Gernot Wieland, The Mayor, Imitating. Film still/Pigment print 27x36cm; Aus: Ink in Milk, 2018 © Gernot Wieland