Contrasts, layers, sounds Approaching Martina Stock's art
The hard and precise aspects of modernistic architecture have always complimented photography. An almost century old medium, which became due to more rational processes at the beginning of the 20th century the popular medium, met steel and concrete, corners and rough edges, black-and-white contrasts in bright sunlight and steep shadows.
Art Nouveau, ornaments, flowers and cirrus were outdated. Nothing should make us lose sight of reality. The high-contrast icons of this new era matched this politically harsh and uncompromising time. And also photography which portrays everything apparently "authentic", truthful and objective. Precise, edgy. Dynamic images created by a daring and mostly diagonal choice of perspective turned architectural photography entirely into a sign of this time of mechanisation, speed or even into an icon of revolution during the early 20th century.
Even today when I am looking at photographs by Martina Stock on which her paintings are based, I feel a little scared when picturing this harsh, uncompromising and dynamic time. This is also due to the fact that her paintings carry me into light-absorbing, narrow street canyons in high-rise metropolises – capitalist skyscrapers, almost certainly put up in record time and under precarious conditions. Looking up from down below should keep us small. Individuality is not desirable, just labour. In the context of these motives and the time some of these date from, it makes perfect sense that the artist works with serigraphs and that she doesn't give her paintings semi-poetic titles but names them with numbers and letters. We can find a further parallel here. How do we tend to view history? As a chain or a line of events, a never-ending parallel and mix of life circles maybe. The idea of a cyclic course of history has repeatedly been popular in human history. History certainly continually creates layers. Like rock layers and geological faults creating elevations. Nothing is lost, everything is overlaid. Even the moment, immediately preceding the moment of writing - or even photographing or painting. There is this beautiful photography from the 1860s that I once saw at a collectors. A man is sitting on a small elevation amidst cooled lava layers in front of Mount Etna. I also imagine Martina Stock's work this way. First layer photography, second layer painting, third layer the moment in which the observer looks at the paintings and hears the sounds and tones of her harp play, as well as the space where this happens. Everything is there even though it has just passed and become history. Then again the impact of painting seems to me ambivalent in an exciting way. Sometimes I experience the quality of the colour as calming and as organic contrast to steel and glass and concrete. At other times, in turn, it seems like blood and rage or rebellion.
Oh and there are the sounds. They come from the strings of a harp and you imagine an angel creating the vibrations with graceful fingers. Sometimes I wish I were able to see the sounds, when they move in the air - dynamic and ephemeral but for a short moment creating wavy layers such as the lava of Mount Etna. Taking a closer look, the harp seems to combine contrasts in itself. Metal and wood, shaped like a sculpture. Music from a body, music as a body. A failed music critic once described the strongly neoclassical Symphony in C by Igor Stravinsky as a crystal. Maybe this is one of the keys to Martina Stock's works. The modern buildings made of steel, glass and concrete blend with colours and sounds, move in wavy layers through space and time and finally freeze to become a clear, crystalline sculpture.
Text: Patrick Marcolli Translation: Johanna Johanna Thurner-Coleinview videos