Conceptual Puzzle – Agnes Fuchs at mumok

What do circuits and painting have in common? Sabine B. Vogel was at the current exhibition at mumok and gets to the bottom of the question.

Installation view Agnes Fuchs. Her Eyes were Green (May 5 to October 8, 2023). Foto: Klaus Pichler, © mumok

What do circuits and painting have in common? Nothing! Unambiguous, clearly defined lines versus color games rich in associations. In Agnes Fuchs’ personal work “Her Eyes Were Green”, both nevertheless meet. The title is a quote from the movie “Blade Runner” – a hint towards science fiction, cyberpunk? Circuits are drawn on the floor of the exhibition room on the lowest level of the MUMOK, distributed on it loose electronic elements from the inside of apparatuses, somewhere still plant-like objects in the form of horsetails. On the walls wonderful paintings on which lines of circuits float in free color space. The lines of the instruction manuals, freed from their meaningfulness, seem to become dynamic strokes again, as if minimalism, constructivism and color field painting were grandly combined here.

Agnes Fuchs. Poem #4/2. DTU Output Driver / (Example of coding, 5.5n-5.6n), 2020/22. Courtesy of the artist © Agnes Fuchs / Bildrecht, Vienna 2023


But why do some of these sometimes interlocking paintings on hard metal frames tip into the room? In a video produced by MUMOK, Fuchs explains that she wants to show the images “in the form of a wave,” so small formats alternate with larger ones that project forward. With the electric particles on the floor, she wants to “make clear what happens on the Internet, in the cloud, because it’s all not so ephemeral. It is capitalistic on the one hand, it has hierarchical structures, they are, after all, predetermined structures.” She calls the horsetails a “fossil form that is still there.” “That’s where the object from nature joins up with the technological constructions, the electronic components,” because the parts distributed here belong to an “obsolete technology,” according to Fuchs, but would still be needed for repairs.

Installation view Agnes Fuchs. Her Eyes were Green (May 5 to October 8, 2023). Foto: Klaus Pichler, © mumok

These are certainly all sensible considerations that the artist thought about on the way to this installation. Apparently, the recorded circuit serves to hold this conceptual puzzle together. So even buzzwords from post-digital to media archeology to post-humanism can be accommodated in the accompanying text booklet. Only our actual experience of space contradicts these efforts. For at first, one ignores the lines, which are indecipherable anyway. Barely pays attention to the little things on them and instead walks purposefully toward the paintings to look more closely at the painting, and only the painting. On the way back, we then link the painted lines recognizably with the elements in the room. Does the painting or the objects gain any added value from this? And where are the cyborgs? The famous film line “Her Eyes Were Green” sparked endless discussions: Were Rachel’s eyes green or brown? Is the eye color a test, a way of identification, or a mistake in the film? In any case, it is about a color – is the exhibition title supposed to lead us to painting in the confusion of conceptual under- and superstructure elements? That would be successful.


Exhibition AGNES FUCHS. Her Eyes Were Green: Until October 8, 2023