


Liebscher
Welt
40 Seiten, 16 cm x 32,5 cm,
Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg 2002
ISBN: 




Text: Andreas Spiegl


Andreas Spiegl
The Unpredictable Individual
Take the simple mathematical equation: 1+1=2; somewhat more difficult: 1+1+1=3, or
barely solvable: 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1=20, if I am not mistaken.
What mathematics achieves here seems as easy as it is decisive: it adds the individual
numbers to arrive at a total sum. But the sum itself also consists of numbers, which
do not appear themselves in the arithmetical task: although we have only added "1s",
in the sums we suddenly find a 2 or a 3 or even a 2 and a 0 together. In this sense,
the sum describes a transformation; it demonstrates that the addition of the same
1 allowed this 1 to become something entirely different. Each change in the calculation
would thus have an effect on the sum and, with this, the final result. So far, so
good.
Let us compare this with the idea, or better the ideology, which lies behind the
concept of the individual. Every person = individual; that is to say an indivisible
entity, such as, let us say, a 1. To socially record it, this 1 is then allocated
1 first name, 1 family name, 1 birthday, 1 passport photo and 1 gender, and recently
even 1 fingerprint and 1 DNS code. Completely and utterly regardless of what this
individual does, in the final analysis it is categorised according to its singular
1  we can recognise this in its DNS code. Now let us suppose that this 1 individual
also has 1 career, 1 family, 1 hobby, 1 wish and 1 small problem: that is to say,
in total 1 more or less successful, normal and happy individual. Even the law and
the administration of justice orientate themselves according to this 1, that is to
say to this individual. But let us now assume that this normal, happy and more or
less successful individual is so challenged in his 1 career that it overreacts or
even becomes paralysed in its 1 family or relationship. Or let us assume the opposite,
that this individual is so challenged in its relationship that it cannot summon up
the expected totality of its investment for this 1 career and thus cannot keep its
mind on the job at hand. As a consequence, it becomes faced with particular sanctions,
be these of a legal, private or social nature.
Let us stick with the mathematics of the individual: The concept of the indivisible
1 presupposes that this individual, which possesses 1 career and 1 relationship and
1 gender and 1 name and 1 problem, still adds up in the end to only 1 individual.
Thus, 1+1+1+1+1=1. The total sum always remains identical: 1 individual, who is condemned,
desired, loved, rewarded or abandoned. With the ideology of the individual and the
individualistic one associates an expectation, which demands of the individual that
it produce increasingly more specific and unmistakable results, and to add these
differences together without endangering the identical sum of 1 at the end. Those
who cannot do this, who cannot finish off with this 1 at the end, who cannot produce
this totality of the indivisible individual, has 1 problem, which can often be corrected
with the help of sports, esoteric practices or a few psychotherapeutic sessions.
Those who cannot be helped by this devote themselves to holistic medicine, the last
bastion of the individual and its 1  or to a work by Martin Liebscher. Liebscher
adds differently, more mathematically. According to Liebscher's formula, 1+1=2 Liebscher,
or 20+1=21 Liebscher. In other words: the sum of the various demands made on the
individual remains perceptible in the equation. In this sense, the additive process
in his work is not only an expression of narcissistic selfreflection (a humorous
reminiscence of a perception of the artist as the last paraindividual), but also
a reference to a policy of identity that bears witness to fragmentation and partialisation.
Liebscher is the last bourgeois individual, who keeps a firm hold on his name and
likeness, and the first who can no longer say who people are talking about when they
talk about him. In a certain sense a child of set theory, unpredictable.
To the same degree that he doubts the individual, Liebscher also doubts the logic
behind the notion that an object cannot be in two places at one time. The mobile
telephone is one such apparatus, which has reduced this impossibility, or the suffering
that results from this impossibility, by at least 50%. This suffering that results
from this subsequently 50% reduced impossibility is based on the problem that the
successive cannot be transformed into simultaneity. Mathematically speaking, the
successive 1+1+1+1+1 etc. are translated into a total sum, which now expresses the
simultaneity of the added units. In order that 1+1+1=3 can even be, the added 1s
must simultaneously exist within the 3; were one 1 to come even just a little too
late, then the sum would only be 2 or, depending on how long the delay of the 1 is,
a 2 cum tempore, that is to say 2 comma… Art, which, since Wittgenstein's treatise,
maintains a schizoid relationship with logic, makes this possible. Liebscher's summary
image is thus by no means a logical and true depiction of reality, since it transforms
the successive into the simultaneous, whereby it is indeed a depiction of a real
existing situation. What appears as a result to be a paradoxical and utopian image
has a valid foundation in everyday reality, in a desire that contradicts logic.
Let us take another example: Imagine a visit to 1 bar, which, with Liebscher, might
be called "Mysliwska". "We" individuals are sitting in front
of 1 glass, that is to say in front of 1 glass after many glasses, in a certain sense
mentally adding the sum of many glasses, and we increasingly imagine a completely
different space  the familiar settings of our home, a holiday resort etc., that
is to say a sum of individual spaces  while we simultaneously observe the bar that
surrounds us with eyes wide open. The individual sitting next to us talks about his
experiences, while we simultaneously listen to the discussion of the next two individuals;
in fact, we can even imagine participating in this dispute. This idea becomes even
more schizoid when "we" begin to consider which roles we could play in
this ambience. The taciturn, the dreamer, the cool one, the gossip, the looser, the
star, or all versions at the same time  depending on our states of mind on that
particular day, and depending on logic, that is to say on the logical and the imaginable.
With Liebscher, what appears imaginable becomes visible: a nonpathological, but
rather arithmetically multiple personality, as the sum of a mathematics of the unpredictable
individual. Only too consistently does this change in perspective also imply a multiple
view of space. Here as well, Liebscher is once again thinking mathematically, and
thus transforms the various and successive perspectives into a total sum of the simultaneous
perceptibility of the shifted: thus transforming the imagination into an image.
That which, according to Wittgenstein, was reserved solely for art, does not in any
way have be so for Liebscher, and is thus, by means of logic, in no way reserved
solely for the artist. Especially when the knowledge, on which Liebscher's unpredictable
individual is founded, takes everyday experience into account. To make this experience
and the knowledge of unpredictability and multiplicity accessible to other individuals,
the artist has decided to share the bar mentioned above with other visitors, his
viewers. Those who now stand in front of this lifesized panorama of unpredictability
and multiplicity are not only photographed three times, but also, reproduced this
way, integrated into the community of the indivisibly divided. If it remains unpredictable,
just who will identify with this individual, it does indeed become predictable that
the former universe of Martin Liebscher will open up into a polyverse.
Translated from the German by Gérard A. Goodrow, Cologne. 

