Anja Luithle


Mechanisms of inwardness

There is a long tradition of cultural collaboration between the institutions and artists of the Rhône-Alpes region and the German state of Baden-Württemberg, a tradition that continuously evolves to manifest new dynamics. The increasingly active role played by young artists and representatives of the middle generation is particularly striking, and there is a clear desire for a spontaneous exchange between the creative figures of the two countries. The ever increasing presence of young artists in our museum is one expression of the sincere engagement of Saint-Etienne Métropole with the creative forces of the present. The Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Saint-Etienne Métropole is very excited about the young talents who are now imparting authentic, contemporary and modern visions of the present age through their work. The consistent and comprehensive presentation of young artists in our museum programme, and the support provided through the international exchange between representatives of the contemporary international art scene, are two pillars of the museum’s policy. The ‘Local Line’ series of exhibitions presents young artists from the Rhône- Alpes region in our museum, and also attempts to show these exhibitions abroad within the framework of an exchange programme between various cities and institutions. Another of our museum’s exhibition series presents established, middle-generation artists from Baden-Württemberg and Piemont – i.e. artists from neighbouring regions – who are already wellknown in their own countries, with the aim of allowing a new, contemporary, open and pluralistic overall picture of artistic diversity to emerge, which presents not only the programmes of the leading museums of the major cities but also relevant, authentic, new representatives from across the whole of the young art scene. The Anja Luithle exhibition presents a small but representative, thoughtfully chosen and intelligent selection of her work, which covers a range of different media. The internal coherence of the outwardly different forms and methods used in her work is particularly noteworthy, and these ultimately express a sensitive, poetic, intellectually precise narrative, but one that is also always concealed, latent and driven by emotion. The narrative character of her work appears to have a fundamentally determining influence on the world of meaning, even though these are not themes or stories, let alone illustrations for stories. They are, rather, subtle evocations that trigger latent feelings, long-forgotten memories that had never completely disappeared, enigmatic experiences, as well as complex and confusing mechanisms of human reactions and relationships. Anja Luithle’s work is presented with an astonishing, even confusing precision, in a perfect, mechanical structure in which the diverse elements function as components of an efficiently constructed, precisely executed machine. Despite this, the mechanical, apparently transparent, logical structure contains something irrational, something jarring and disturbing because no clear, credible function, no rational explanation of the connections between reactions, movements and transformations is conveyed. The more precise and mechanically perfect the sculptural structures are, the more forcefully the apparent rationality and logic are contested. The reasons behind the mechanisms are not explained to the viewer: we are expected to reconstruct the hidden connections in our imaginations. We are not given answers to questions concerning the significance of the mechanical movements, the direction or aim of the changes, or the relationships between the various elements. What we get is an emotionally tinged, enigmatic allusion to something that is invisible but undeniably present. At its core, Anja Luithle’s work is about developing an awareness of what is intangible and invisible, yet also existentially present or substantial. This humanly substantive element determines the mechanisms of approaching and moving away, of affinities and antagonisms, without exhibiting transparency in the activities and desires, without any logic or calculability to the reactions. It is in exactly this space that we find the enigmatic, which categorically delegitimises the apparently logical mechanisms and causal explanations. And so the clear, precisely designed, apparently rational mechanisms are understood as dangerous, as unpredictable, as destructive – or self-destructive. Their highly sensual, almost seductive and provocative appearance does not impart a sense of cheerfulness, but rather an irksome, jarring, burdening, ambivalent mood. Anja Luithle’s visual and sculptural work evokes a multifaceted, psychologically and emotionally informed, poetic aura, an imaginary world in which the diverse latent mechanisms of our human actions and reactions are probed. The artist does not want to formulate any explanations or revelations about our reactions and complex, often chaotic feelings, about our affinities and inclinations, but she points towards the latent, unbounded, impalpably rich and contradictory inner universe, whose forces and energies determine the human mechanism. Her art is – simultaneously – intellectual, precisely thought-out, quasi architectural and perfectionist, but also highly sensual, emotional, open and contradictory, just like the human mechanism, which is embodied in her precise, apparently logical and transparent structures.

Lóránd Hegyi
Musée d´Art Moderne Saint-Etienne