MARTINA WOLF AND HER EXERCISES IN DISILLUSIONMENT
Whoever is searching for anecdotes on asceticism should look no further than the classical literature about the life of Greek philosopher Diogenes.
No, not the story of the tub, but the lesser-known story of the statue:
Diogenes is standing in front of a stone statue, begging for alms.
“Got any change?” would be the modern-day paraphrase of it.
(Which is something we are familiar with here in the area around the station.)
Again and again, obstinately, stereo-typically, he keeps repeating his request and, as expected, he receives no answer.
(And this is something we are also familiar with here in the area around the station.)
People come up to him and in amazement ask just what he is doing he can’t seriously expect to receive something from a statue.
(This is also something we are familiar with here in the area around the station, especially when the statue is a bank building.)
“Exactly,” he replied, “To get practice in being refused.”
(Has anyone ever carried out this exercise in the area around the station? I know quite a number of people who know what it is like to be refused, but this is not an exercise, this is their life.)
The punch line is: Practice in disillusionment.
White is the colour of asceticism.
White is also the colour of Martina Wolf’s paintings on the window panes.And with these paintings,
we are ourselves being dis-illusioned.
At first glance, we think, oh, an aerial view of the railway station district.
But on the second glance: No way!
These aren’t views of the railway station district. Martina from Dresden is taking pictures of window panes in Frankfurt.
This is the dis-illusionment. And that is the exercise that is of interest here.
To exercise, from the Greek: askein, highlights what the ancient Greeks meant by askēsis, asceticism.
White is the colour of asceticism.
White is also the colour of the trousers being worn by the prostitutes in front of Dresdner Bank.
White is the colour of Martina Wolf’s paintings on the window panes of Dresdner Bank.
Is that the exercise already? –
No, not quite: For what would an exercise in dis-illusionment in the area around the station look like?
Not getting any spare change?
Eating a bad currywurst on Kaiserstrasse?
A cheap thrill that cost a fortune?
Martina Wolf dis-illusions us as spectators and acts as if near and far could become one.
It seems as if scale is being offset: The painting on the window pane in the bank building is the same height as the trade union headquarters office tower.
Both objects appear in the photograph in the same focus. Inside and outside, near and far are equalised.
This is Martina Wolf’s exercise.
And this is her trick.
Offsetting the scale is her asceticism.
For Diogenes, the philosopher of asceticism, it is an inscription in the heart, body and soul, in particular for the purpose of shaping oneself and to accomplish a transformation, to develop a certain attitude and to change behaviour.
On the inside of the window pane the white overpainting by Martina Wolf.
On the outside of the window pane the air of the neighbourhood high up on the 30th floor. And way down there, Münchener Strasse, Gutleutstrasse, Wilhelm-Leuschner-Strasse and the river Main.
A computer brings the foreground which is 20 cms away, and the background far down below into the same focus.
Distance is overcome: India next to Italy. Max under Michelle. Eichborn above Dr. Müller.
And is this what the exercise here in this neighbourhood is about?
Because: asceticism is a practice of freedom, when freedom is understood as independence and liberty in the sense of being self-sufficient.