ANNA HOFBAUER

CONTACT

contact@annahofbauer.com

ANNA HOFBAUER

CONTACT

contact@annahofbauer.com

My volcano erupts .

Anna Hofbauer

only not for you 

Nearly everything I know at this moment about “mein Vulkan bricht nur für dich nicht aus Anna Hofbauer,” everything I have seen and heard, came to me from two black cases: one is hand-sized and cannot be opened, the other is the size of a magazine and can be unfolded. On each of them, one of the surfaces is covered by a piece of glass that, through some tricks I do not understand, is illuminated from within, thus conveying to me ideas and impressions. I run the tip of my right index finger across the glass of the smaller case without being able to feel much. The glass is completely smooth – perhaps a bit of dust, grease, a small irritation caused by some dried fluid that my fingernail scratches away.

My eyes see green and white notepads filled from top to bottom with black writing, sliding away beneath the glass. In between there are small drawn figures repeating a certain movement again and again. Two little dogs, standing upright, in each paw a wooden stick, which they bang together while raising their eyebrows. A grinning boy in a cat costume who winks as he gives the thumbs up. A spinning ghost-like character that pulls out its cheeks with its fingers and then lets them snap back. And among all this are photographs. My fingertip touches one and it fills the entire piece of glass. The swiping direction changes now from left to right. Now comes a succession of studio photographs; details of processed clay tiles; black-and-white photographs hanging on a wall, first full views and then close-ups; bits of paper with blood-test results; a worktable seen from above, on it tools, clamps, scissors, gloves, glue and more slabs of unglazed clay, some of them held by clamps; a comic book held open by a hand with red-painted fingernails; people standing around a blue billiard table in a wood-paneled room. My finger stops at children climbing up a bronze sculpture made of massive pieces of stacked-up metal. The photo has a peculiar shimmer and undulating shadings – a photograph of a slide projection. I pinch the tips of my thumb and index finger together and then spread them out again on the glass. Twice. An odd gesture – especially when removed from its context. I repeat the motion with my hand in the air at eye level but cannot ascribe any meaning to it. Perhaps seen from your perspective: L-O-L!

What does happen is that the face of the girl who made it to the top of the sculpture is now enlarged, as she happily and proudly looks into the camera. Into how many by now?

When I spend too much time brooding over this, my fingers inactive, the illumination of the glass fades; it turns black, the space behind it dies away, now showing a different one in which I recognize myself as a reflection. Almost black in black; only the whites of my eyes stand out.

But because of the analogy to the black glass, right now I am more interested in the blacks of my eyes. If you get close enough to the bathroom mirror and attempt to look into these parts of your eyes, you realize that your eye is a mirror in the mirror, and in it you see your own face. Possibly one of the few forms of expression the eye is actually capable of. 

For although the familiar saying about the eye being the window to the soul might suggest otherwise, this organ is in itself exceedingly expressionless. After all, what can the eye convey aside from a few clues about the state of its owner’s health if it is cloudy or reddened? The color of the area surrounding the black spot may have some culturally related connotations, but it remains basically unchanged, aside from its size when the pupil expands or contracts. What does that tell us? Bright or dark surroundings. High or not high. 

The windows of the buildings in Ghost Stories even lack this capacity for reflection. They will remain unglazed. Their other functions of letting in light and affording a view will also presumably never be realized, as the buildings into which they have been inserted have had stories added to them solely to increase compensation payments when the South China urban settlement in which they are located is torn down.

But exploring this location follows a principle we have already swiped over. Photographs of slides projected onto a screen, in between a mirror and then, at the end, glass again, which the camera zooms in on or out from in order to select its detail. The narrative of their sequence results from the order of the pictures on the film roll – the images are cropped only to fit more negatives on the sheet that is to be photographed. In the contact print, “contact” does, in fact, come into play: in this case the contact between two smooth surfaces. The light treats all of them equally and above all equally long, even though some could have benefited from more time and others from less. Right now, however, the ability of the buildings’ empty eye sockets to let in light plays a role after all: it is only due to this that their darkness becomes visible on the exposed paper.

For my fingers it would be more interesting to actually touch the reliefs they find behind the glass. But I presume that even if I were standing in front of them, they would still remain untouched. Although the form and visual impression are due to irregularities and bulges on their surface,  reliefs are nonetheless above all a view. Because the word causes me to think too much in geological terms, worn out from too much black, imagining I am gazing at the mountain landscape of Montenegro and picturing how erosion accomplished this, I make a serious mistake in my reasoning: unlike the stone from which the mountains are scratched, clay is, in fact, soft when it is formed. If the surface of Cherries and Bananas creates a different impression, Anna Hofbauer’s voice explains to me from a silvery metal slit in the glass to which I press my ear, it is due to the grog in the clay. Grog is fired, ground clay that is added to the rest of the water-clay mixture but remains hard and then sticks to the tools used to cut the soft clay, leaving behind scratch-like marks. In the motivic model we encounter a different form of looking through the glass. Behind it, three spinning rolls, set in motion through a pull on a lever, are divided into segments showing brightly colored symbols. If three matching symbols come to rest next to each other, the machine erupts, disgorging a clinking stream of coins.

The two Volcano reliefs exhibit a segmentation as well. They consist of multiple tiles, each featuring smooth surfaces that are tilted out slightly, that are additionally contrasted with each other through the use of different kinds of clay; the tilts on these tiles extend across the entire grid and in their entirety produce an abstract depiction of the eponymous motif. While I continue to drag my finger down across the glass and discover a possible source of formal inspiration in the logo of an online casino of the same name, which pops up as an ad in pictures of a Southeast European city, I slowly realize that the smoothness of the pattern did not elicit any geological associations with me. Yet the thought is perhaps instructive that volcanoes are mountains formed not through erosion but eruption, more precisely through very hot and malleable masses that harden as they cool. I had ignored the substance-altering element of intense heat as a triviality, even though I had just seen how fire had at least changed the coloring of the clay slabs, and I was told how they can explode if air was kneaded into the clay in the modeling process.

Searing heat is no less crucial in the formation of glass, the material I have had so much contact with – material that when heated until red-hot can be blown up like a balloon. It is said, however, that glass always remains a liquid, even when it has cooled, and that one can observe this in old windows that are slightly thicker at the bottom because the glass has slowly flowed down over the years. The panes of glass I am looking at and touching apparently have a different composition and have lost this quality. But if I remain absolutely still and let the large piece of glass, which shows a white sheet of paper, turn black as well, and then steadily stare into this blackness for several more moments, ballooning spheres of light, some the color of bananas and cherries, begin gently flying off through the darkness. Completely without sound, and with no volcanic eruption against the night sky, it nevertheless blends its own light with the darkness in the room.

my volcano erupts
Anna Hofbauer
only not for you 

Nearly everything I know at this moment about “mein Vulkan bricht nur für dich nicht aus Anna Hofbauer,” everything I have seen and heard, came to me from two black cases: one is hand-sized and cannot be opened, the other is the size of a magazine and can be unfolded. On each of them, one of the surfaces is covered by a piece of glass that, through some tricks I do not understand, is illuminated from within, thus conveying to me ideas and impressions. I run the tip of my right index finger across the glass of the smaller case without being able to feel much. The glass is completely smooth – perhaps a bit of dust, grease, a small irritation caused by some dried fluid that my fingernail scratches away.

My eyes see green and white notepads filled from top to bottom with black writing, sliding away beneath the glass. In between there are small drawn figures repeating a certain movement again and again. Two little dogs, standing upright, in each paw a wooden stick, which they bang together while raising their eyebrows. A grinning boy in a cat costume who winks as he gives the thumbs up. A spinning ghost-like character that pulls out its cheeks with its fingers and then lets them snap back. And among all this are photographs. My fingertip touches one and it fills the entire piece of glass. The swiping direction changes now from left to right. Now comes a succession of studio photographs; details of processed clay tiles; black-and-white photographs hanging on a wall, first full views and then close-ups; bits of paper with blood-test results; a worktable seen from above, on it tools, clamps, scissors, gloves, glue and more slabs of unglazed clay, some of them held by clamps; a comic book held open by a hand with red-painted fingernails; people standing around a blue billiard table in a wood-paneled room. My finger stops at children climbing up a bronze sculpture made of massive pieces of stacked-up metal. The photo has a peculiar shimmer and undulating shadings – a photograph of a slide projection. I pinch the tips of my thumb and index finger together and then spread them out again on the glass. Twice. An odd gesture – especially when removed from its context. I repeat the motion with my hand in the air at eye level but cannot ascribe any meaning to it. Perhaps seen from your perspective: L-O-L!

What does happen is that the face of the girl who made it to the top of the sculpture is now enlarged, as she happily and proudly looks into the camera. Into how many by now?

When I spend too much time brooding over this, my fingers inactive, the illumination of the glass fades; it turns black, the space behind it dies away, now showing a different one in which I recognize myself as a reflection. Almost black in black; only the whites of my eyes stand out.

But because of the analogy to the black glass, right now I am more interested in the blacks of my eyes. If you get close enough to the bathroom mirror and attempt to look into these parts of your eyes, you realize that your eye is a mirror in the mirror, and in it you see your own face. Possibly one of the few forms of expression the eye is actually capable of. 

For although the familiar saying about the eye being the window to the soul might suggest otherwise, this organ is in itself exceedingly expressionless. After all, what can the eye convey aside from a few clues about the state of its owner’s health if it is cloudy or reddened? The color of the area surrounding the black spot may have some culturally related connotations, but it remains basically unchanged, aside from its size when the pupil expands or contracts. What does that tell us? Bright or dark surroundings. High or not high. 

The windows of the buildings in Ghost Stories even lack this capacity for reflection. They will remain unglazed. Their other functions of letting in light and affording a view will also presumably never be realized, as the buildings into which they have been inserted have had stories added to them solely to increase compensation payments when the South China urban settlement in which they are located is torn down.

But exploring this location follows a principle we have already swiped over. Photographs of slides projected onto a screen, in between a mirror and then, at the end, glass again, which the camera zooms in on or out from in order to select its detail. The narrative of their sequence results from the order of the pictures on the film roll – the images are cropped only to fit more negatives on the sheet that is to be photographed. In the contact print, “contact” does, in fact, come into play: in this case the contact between two smooth surfaces. The light treats all of them equally and above all equally long, even though some could have benefited from more time and others from less. Right now, however, the ability of the buildings’ empty eye sockets to let in light plays a role after all: it is only due to this that their darkness becomes visible on the exposed paper.

For my fingers it would be more interesting to actually touch the reliefs they find behind the glass. But I presume that even if I were standing in front of them, they would still remain untouched. Although the form and visual impression are due to irregularities and bulges on their surface,  reliefs are nonetheless above all a view. Because the word causes me to think too much in geological terms, worn out from too much black, imagining I am gazing at the mountain landscape of Montenegro and picturing how erosion accomplished this, I make a serious mistake in my reasoning: unlike the stone from which the mountains are scratched, clay is, in fact, soft when it is formed. If the surface of Cherries and Bananas creates a different impression, Anna Hofbauer’s voice explains to me from a silvery metal slit in the glass to which I press my ear, it is due to the grog in the clay. Grog is fired, ground clay that is added to the rest of the water-clay mixture but remains hard and then sticks to the tools used to cut the soft clay, leaving behind scratch-like marks. In the motivic model we encounter a different form of looking through the glass. Behind it, three spinning rolls, set in motion through a pull on a lever, are divided into segments showing brightly colored symbols. If three matching symbols come to rest next to each other, the machine erupts, disgorging a clinking stream of coins.

The two Volcano reliefs exhibit a segmentation as well. They consist of multiple tiles, each featuring smooth surfaces that are tilted out slightly, that are additionally contrasted with each other through the use of different kinds of clay; the tilts on these tiles extend across the entire grid and in their entirety produce an abstract depiction of the eponymous motif. While I continue to drag my finger down across the glass and discover a possible source of formal inspiration in the logo of an online casino of the same name, which pops up as an ad in pictures of a Southeast European city, I slowly realize that the smoothness of the pattern did not elicit any geological associations with me. Yet the thought is perhaps instructive that volcanoes are mountains formed not through erosion but eruption, more precisely through very hot and malleable masses that harden as they cool. I had ignored the substance-altering element of intense heat as a triviality, even though I had just seen how fire had at least changed the coloring of the clay slabs, and I was told how they can explode if air was kneaded into the clay in the modeling process.

Searing heat is no less crucial in the formation of glass, the material I have had so much contact with – material that when heated until red-hot can be blown up like a balloon. It is said, however, that glass always remains a liquid, even when it has cooled, and that one can observe this in old windows that are slightly thicker at the bottom because the glass has slowly flowed down over the years. The panes of glass I am looking at and touching apparently have a different composition and have lost this quality. But if I remain absolutely still and let the large piece of glass, which shows a white sheet of paper, turn black as well, and then steadily stare into this blackness for several more moments, ballooning spheres of light, some the color of bananas and cherries, begin gently flying off through the darkness. Completely without sound, and with no volcanic eruption against the night sky, it nevertheless blends its own light with the darkness in the room.

©Anna Hofbauer 2021