January 28, 2015

Art Object of the Week: Self-Destructive Art

Franziska Klinkmüller, restoring in the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin

There are those kinds of artists, that are consciously making self-destructive art - the great Dieter Roth was one of them and he excelled in mold. But most artists are making self-destructive art out of utter cluelessness. They use glue that turns yellow or a paper that cracks under the paint. And on top of that, there are the limitations of the modern material: aluminum that oxidizes, plexiglas that gets scratched, and audio-visual equipment that becomes obsolete. This week I visited the person who is saving contemporary art from self-destruction: my friend, the restorer Franziska Klinkmüller. At the moment, she’s busy fixing a 19th century train wagon in the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, uncovering its original paint with red stripes (you know how I love stripes so I can’t wait to see the result). Last year she was restoring early 20th century mechanical display puppets at the Deutsches Spielzeugmuseum in Sonneberg. Besides mechanisms in dolls and clockworks, I know that Franziska especially likes to work with gum (also the chewing one) and glue. I met Franziska in 2009 in Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum of Contemporary Art while she was dusting the Dieter Roth Garden Sculpture, but I’m sure that once I turned my back she was doing the fun stuff, like filling up the sculpture’s bottles with rainwater and taking Polaroids. Not that dust isn’t a fascinating topic - it is. I gave guided tours together with the restorers of Joseph Beuys’ Directional Forces in Hamburger Bahnhof and we talked about almost nothing else but dust. And I learnt that one shouldn’t use hair spray to fixate chalk - it makes the color disappear whereas chalk is a pretty resilient material (think of the Caves of Lascaux). I do love restorers - they give you a totally new perspective on art, entering via its material. Coming to think of it on a more philosophical level, Franziska is basically slowing down time. And to top it off, she is also wearing this cute white lab coat.

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