Point of no return
“It seems as if in the field of signs there exist a number of basic structures which are valid in differing cultural systems as well as through all eras.”
Working with various media and techniques Heiner Blum (born 1959) stylistically defines his work by a very open concept of art. Since the 1970’s, Blum has been creating several groups of works exploring photography, sculpture, glass and mirror pieces, wall installations, light projections, as well as text and sign images.
The artist‘s archive, which he is continuously expanding since 1977 and which consists of photographs, drawings, postcards, books and newspaper clippings, is the base of many of his works. Further sources of inspiration include Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Pop Art artists like Andy Warhol. In his work, Blum addresses the numerous forms of socially transmitted images and signs. He methodically examines their associative powers, analyses their emotional values, or questions their ability to objectify linguistic systems. Hence, Blum’s works are part of the media context of photojournalism, advertising, and mass communication. He targets the testing of our perception mechanisms as well as illuminating a contemporary, collective state of mind.
Blum’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt and “Kunsthalle Mannheim”. His artwork is shown at the “Haus der Kunst” in Munich and the “ZKM” Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe. Blum is the recipient of various awards and prizes including the “Karl Ströher” Prize in Frankfurt and a promotion prize from the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Point of No Return from 2004 is one piece of the group of works titled “TFTLTYTD – Filme im Bauch” (TFTLTYTD – Movies In The Stomach), which further includes fourteen additional light boxes. Blum uses an imagery well known from advertisements or the movies: in front of a white background text fragments radiate in large letters of bright red and black. The text fragments are based on quotes from intellectuals of the 1960’s such as Henri Lefèbvre as well as quotes from newspapers and from writings on walls of Paris of the time. In addition to that references to the music of Chat Baker or Malcolm McLaren are obvious.
In its subtle tension between the possibilities of language interpretation as a medium and as an image this work stands within the tradition of Pop Art as well as the conceptual art of artists like Edward Ruscha. Through the de-contextualization of text fragments Blum achieves a shift in meaning, which he contextualizes even further through artistic alienation.
For Blum his art is based on a special feel for language: “It really is true that I experience language in such a way that I perceive texts as images. For me, this comes natural.” The observer is invited to think about the imaginative power of language, „I want to produce works which can be easily received, works, which can be taken along with you in your head if you‘ve seen them once but which you will think of over and over again.”