Present Progressive

16 February – 31 March 2018

Opening Reception
Friday, 16 February 2018
6 – 9 pm

In context of DÜSSELDORF PHOTO, 16-25 February 2018

As at the beginning of the 20th century Kandinsky and the movement Blauer Reiter proclaimed the rejection from naturalism and Duchamp, Dada and Malewitsch stated the end of painting the freedom of artistic means began. Still photography, although already explored to its abstract and cameraless edges by Moholy Nagy or Man Ray during the 1920s, in common sense is often associated with the expectation of depicting reality.

Present Progressive describes the process of doing while being aware of the past and simultaneously reaching for the future. One can call it extended photography that strives for progress by means of experiments. An idea is developed rather than just reproduced by expressly including digital tools and technologies into the process. Its potential is explored, played upside down and the other way round like a piece of jazz music. It's more of a mindset than a specific style.

The exhibition shows a confrontation of two positions. Michael Reisch develops his radical invers photography starting the photographic work from algorithms rather than reality and then transforming the so found image into sculpture and architecture. Isabella Til digitalizes her own photo- and watercolor-templates and transforms them into a new imagined scenery by especially integrating coincidences arising from the digital tools and the program. The overpainting of the final print produces a third and unique sensual level.

Area s/w, series 6, acrylic on paper, 50 x 40 cm

"The original handmade image is digitally deconstructed and, like writing a text, is rebuilt by using different streams of consciousness thus different visual samples at the same time. By integrating coincidence and the possibilities of the digital tool I try to produce a new and interesting structure that generates a new reality. Like in painting one decision leads to another but in contrast to conventional forming processes steps partly can be reversed until the process is stopped and the work of the sequence is found."

Area s/w, series 1, acrylic on paper, 32 x 24 cm


2 September – 22 October 2016

Ross Bleckner, Jonathan Lasker, Peter Halley, ​I​mi Knoebel , Sabine Moritz, Franz Baumgartner, Max Streicher, Adolf Luther, Isabella Til, Martin Golland, Pascal Sender

Area colour, series 1 and 2, acrylic on paper, about 32 x 24 cm

Area, watercolour on paper, about 31 x 23 cm (selected)

Area (drawing), pencil and charcoal on paper, 29,7 x 42 cm

Dessau, fine art print on uncoated paper, acrylic, on alu dibond, 81 x 63,5 cm

res narrandi

The things surrounding us are subtly talking to us. Their pure presence creates an auratic influence on us. The existence of things in human society documents social development as well as personal conditions.

I picked some of them in order to catch the characteristics in a drawing. In my very personal selection I was lead by free association and connection with these items. Although photography would have been stronger in detail, for me it was more accurate to explore these things the way I did. By doing so I could shortly save them from endless stream of decay and forgetting. In this process they became a sort of private encyclopedia of things.

Interesting thoughts to the topic of ”transmission“ I found in the book Die schrecklichen Kinder der Neuzeit (Suhrkamp 2014) by German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk. There he examines history and progress of western postrevolutionary society where continuity of transition from one generation to the other has faded at the beginning of 21st century. In his opinion the individuum of modern society is left to a supposed freedom while society is uncontrollably ”falling“ forward. He discribes the sources and the impact of a uncertainty of origin for a society whose inhabitants he called ”new bastards“. They act in flat organised systems that constanly change, sending and receiving at the same time. Here a ”heritage“ seems to be less attractive and static.

Other parallel thoughts according to the project I dicovered in a collection of still actual essays called Mythologies – Mythen des Alltags written 1957 by French philosopher Roland Barthes. He examined the tendency of contemporary social value systems to create modern myths. Barthes also looked at the semiology of the process of myth creation concluding that every object, idea, picture or text could become a myth.

The collection of alsmost fifty res narrandi is telling historical stories of a generation, but also very personal ones of where I was and what I found on my way. Thus a miniature golf ticket stands equal beside a Leica camera, a basketball tricot or a Churchill drinking cup.

(Isabella Til)


res narrandi

12 - 27 February 2016

res narrandi, charcoal, colour pencil and pencil on paper, 29,7 x 42 cm (choice from fifty works)

Goethe 30, photography (selected)

"This house opposite Folkwang Museum, Essen contained all the sediments of a lifetime. Corners with a particular atmosphere that often gave and even as pictures today give me a shudder and familiarity at the same time."

REFLECT I.T., selected self portraits made in analogue photo-technique between 1988-2001, book project

"Can a photograph carry the feeling and memory of an exact situation? What gives you the impulse to take a picture? How will you look at the pictures from a distance? What does it mean for other people? Can one recognize a life pattern in mere pictures? Can they help to understand yourself?

For years and years I just kept on photographing as I started looking at the world through a lens in Folkwang School.
After taking the developed films from the lab, I spend a gorgious time putting the small prints into groups and forming hierarchies and layouts, daydreaming of exhibition walls that would be like a page in a book. It was the heritage of student times in Essen. I was familiar with the work of Nan Goldin, but only much later I heard about Wolfgang Tillmanns. It was in the air, in the music in free life.

I did not only took pictures of myself, but somehow I kept on returning to this very private motive. It was a secret dialogue I kept to myself. Finally in those days there was always design work or life waiting to be done and I sealed everything into boxes with the feeling that their (the photographs') time will come at some point in my life."

Silkscreens on paper, 60 x 42 cm, photogram on baryta 60 x 42 cm, photography

"It's all about how you look at the world. Examining, finding joy in small things.
In childhood my look was somehow narrowed by the ubiquitous curtains in our house, in every house. So I played with a sort of photographic depth of field to which my eyes enabled me. I focused my view either on the square grid of the curtain itself or on the cut out of the world behind it. The curtain was a protection and an enclosure at the same time. When I entered Folkwang School I slowly got rid of this curtain.

As the silkscreen workshop was always empty, I decided to learn about this craft (that reminded me of Andy Warhol) and realized a couple of serials there. Besides I played the meaning of screen by silkscreening a screen."

Photograms and Collages, on genuine photographic paper Ilfospeed glossy, 29 x 23,5 cm

"I got my first camera 1983, a Canon A1 (which I soon changed for a Nikon), when I started at Folkwang School. Initially I thought that I would draw and paint there. That was my passion. But every student had to do photography aswell as the photogaphers had to draw. That was the concept.
Photography touched me directly and for 2 years I spend most of the day in our well-equipped photo lab. It was so fascinating what you could do, even just in the darkroom. In the same year, in April, I had finished high school. I was a bit sad that I couldn't leave the town for some more exciting place. But then Essen was going to be interesting with all these funky students from allover. And the best was that everybody wanted to do art.

Prof. Inge Osswald (a former assistant of famous Otto Steinert) was a figure of great respect and wisdom to me, a woman somehow asexual and objective like I imagined a female Moholy-Nagy. Through my art course in high school I was very well educated in art history and very impressed by constructivism.
One day I did a series of photograms, with carefully prepared templates, which were inspired by Theo van Doesburg. All grey constructivism. She took them for her collection. I was honoured but still thought of all the work in the darkroom."

Analog black-and-white photography, genuine photographic prints on Ilfospeed glossy, 29 x 23,5 cm (selection)

"The coal area opened up and in my mind turned out to be as funky but not as dangerous as NYC. I explored so many places and got lost on purpose with my red Renault 4: Altenessen, Oberhausen, Duisburg, Gelsenkirchen. I hung out with the photographers because they were wild, cool and partying. I learned a lot about taking care on ones resposibility of the subjective view as a photographer and also about the importance of subline texts in magazines while being a guest in the course of Prof. Angela Neuke, a couragous woman, who was always fighting with her mostly male students. She brought people like Larry Fink and Garry Winogrand for lectures."