Angela Bulloch

9 December 2011 - 21 January 2012
by Diedrich Diederichsen*

We are presently in the midst of a crisis of space. Formerly, the universe was immeasurably large, but it was still just a very large space; today its dimensions defy any and all attempts to conceive of them. Space is rolled up and encapsulated inside other space; it is infinitely large and infinitely small and spatially anonymous at the same time, six-dimensional, nine-dimensional. But countable dimensions are something quite different from an immeasurable universe whose interface – the evening sky – is a possible object of romantic contemplation. They lend a peculiar concreteness to the inconceivable, a brand of concreteness that is much more difficult to deal with than the old feelings of grandeur and sublimity.

This crisis continues in our everyday sense of space. City planners speak of spaces of fear, by which they mean all those confusing and disorienting, tunnel-like, often underground constructions – multistory parking garages, subway stations, pedestrian underpasses – whose structures, interestingly enough, are often described with metaphors from astronomy: wormholes, cosmic switchyards, etc. Finally, this crisis also has an impact on art, in two different ways. First, art too is deprived of that preexisting, neutral space that stays in the background, standardized and unmarked, and leaves the foreground to the art objects. Second, however, the way that art objects relate to other spaces is also placed in question, since their own three-dimensionality literally no longer encompasses all the aspects of spatiality that concern us.

Angela Bulloch has always worked with representations that transcend the visible. The Pixel Boxes that created a kind of signature surface for many of her works for a number of years also constantly challenged viewers to conceive of an invisible something more. On the one hand, they were reassuringly beautiful minimalist sculptures that matched the proportions of conventional exhibition spaces well. Unlike minimalist sculptures, however, they did not signify themselves but minimal pixels. They stood for the smallest units of technical images, which cannot and are not supposed to be seen when one is under the spell of the culture industry's images. If one attempts to imagine the images that would correspond to Bulloch's Pixel Boxes, they would not just be very large – large enough to burst the bounds of any architectural container; they would also be made up entirely of highly autonomous individual objects.

Angela Bulloch lives and works in London and Berlin. In 1997 she was among those nominated for the Turner Prize. Soon she came to be regarded as one of the Young British Artists, but by no means does her work derive its meaning from sensational subject matter or a controversial means of presentation. The work does not lend itself to explicit interpretation but offers, instead, an abundance of experiences and meanings. Because of this it functions, in museum presentations, not so much according to the usual standards of uniqueness and an object-like character, but more in terms of process and participation. This makes it difficult to ascribe any sort of designation to her work. Bulloch resists all linguistic definitions that ignore the process-oriented aspect of the work.

* Diedrich Diederichsen, 'Who Lives in the Black Hole?', published in The Space That Time Forgot, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, 2008