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Sprachmalerei Maren Flößer

At first glance, yet from a greater distance, the impact of the glowing, colorful wall installations of Maren Floesser appear to be pure ornamental decoration. Similar to contrasting advertising Billboards, they illustrate aggressively tuned pictures, alternating letters or empty space, which as an ensemble; make a single word or word combination. While one is attempting to solve the riddle, to seek the meaning and thus step closer, quickly the impression of the ornamental dissolves. The many fine figures emerge and seem to dominate the background of the Billboards. Engraved in the deep thick layers of color are giacometti-like creatures which populate every picture. Sometimes they appear as members of an anonymous group, sometimes united as a couple, but always coming out of the depth to dominate the colorful foreground. The tension between the faceless figures and the screaming letters is the secret of the wall instillations of Maren Floesser. It’s founded in the multi-layered relationship between the human being and its language.

Letter grid

Interpretation of Wall Instillation in Frankfurt Institute for Social Research



Curiously, the constellation amongst the human beings on these Boards seems to be as questionable as their relationship with the foreground. Whether in anonymous masses, intimate couples, united in groups or standing alone, the stretched figures always seem to be silently waiting people. If they should be in contact with each other, it is thus not by means of verbal communication. The speechless gathering of these beings is obviously a stunning contrast to the fact that they are virtually surrounded by the letters and the words. Although the notches, through which these creatures are visible as silhouettes, are also cut through the letters, this never creates the impression of the domination of man over the written word.

The letters in their gaudy colorfulness appear much more power hungry, more high handed, compared to the shadowy figures which look like helpless victims in their speechlessness. Their frightened silence would be the expression of the horror they experience in the realization of the superior strength of the dead language. This might explain the brief association when the observer in some of the ghost like creatures suddenly recognizes humans with fear distorted faces: as if panic suppresses their voices, these figures are captured by the sight of the letter ruins; they remain with wide open mouths in horror. Once the experience has advanced, and met the point of tyranny of the written language, the fantasy has no more limits: now you recognize this assemblage of scratched creatures as they suddenly appear as prisoners of the letters, either the protest of the silently rebelling masses or the acclamation of the moved crowd. The individual struck with speechlessness by the overwhelming power of the reifying language seems to have the choice only between rebellion and submission. The individual can either approach the bars with others of the dead sign in wordless lamentation or desperately clinch to them as if to elevate its own weak ego.

Sprachmalerei Maren Flößer

The observation takes a final turn with the recognition of the sense of pleading and hoping in the figures of Maren Floesser. Although none of her shadowy creatures have a face; their entire stature, the long stretched bodies, the close laid hands and their heads all in one direction, leads one to suppose that these are individuals pressing for redemption. Where ever you look, it’s the desperate waiting of these speechless standing thin creatures that grips the observer the most in the colorful “word boards”.

It seems that behind all these domineering glowing letters the frightened person forever lies, and pleadingly awaits the changing back of the dead language into living words. The human beings are unredeemed because the language has been snatched from them as a medium by the material achievement of independence of the drawings; therefore, they can not feel anymore at home in the language. It is my impression the paintings by Maren Floesser are codes of an anxiety which are hoping for liberation from the letter grid.

Axel Honneth

Professor für Sozial-Philosophie an der

Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main

Direktor des Instituts für Sozialforschung, Frankfurt am Main

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