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Eva von Platen

Text by Jean-Christophe Ammann, Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt am Main

Eva von Platen was born on July 18, 1965. Her work to date consists of drawings and of films of varying lengths. Some of the latter are no more than sequences. Films, combining elements of parody and burlesque with the absurd and the sad. Von Platen's drawings, annotations and objets trouvés are almost always connected with film sequences and series of moving pictures. She has a great eye for detail and has a very precise feel for things. But in a sense she turns these very qualities upside down by looking into the spaces in-between, into the niches, by moving her images not simply in one direction, but in all directions. In conversation she says that "a product is alive, if one succeeds in demonstrating that it is a process.

" Since 1985 Eva von Platen has lived in many places. "In my head I have no home," she says, but she is aware of the importance of one's own four walls. She later drew from memory the ground-plans and elevations of the 19 apartments in the various countries in which she has lived, usually together with other people. And because she has no home in her head, she draws the apartments instead, as a form of housing for a particular location, a story, people, images or experiences. "Sometimes," says Eva von Platen, "I attempt to make lovingly 'unconscious' things, sometimes when I draw my smile is introverted, or I make a conscious attempt to produce something that has involved real effort, holding my pen in a certain way. I am playing games with myself, going round and round myself." In many of her works von Platen really does appear to simply be looking on, while her subconscious succeeds in dispelling meaning. But precisely at such moments she picks up undertones, like the sounds that people tend to swallow when, for example, they are speaking excitedly. And conversely she is not afraid of the puns produced by specific, situation-related states of affairs, caught up in the tension between ebullience and depression.

She picks up a cash-desk receipt from the ground. Its briefly listed products, from ladies' socks to rabbit food, allow us a glimpse of the woman who bought them. Von Platen takes a sex catalog and neatly buts out pleasure-inducing articles, devices and prices, line for line, in order to paste them one beneath the other, in two columns. She then adds up everything, coming to a "sum total of DM 822.80 (and) DM 603.00." This "bookkeeping approach" points up the ridiculous side to this catalog of articles, with its brief descriptions aimed at a frenzy of arousal. Using the same technique, line for line, she pastes in her own nightly TV viewing schedule for the period 12.35 a.m. through 06.49 a.m., beginning with "Triumph der Leere" (the triumph of emptiness) and ending with "Fünf- und Zehnminutensprüngen" (five and ten minute intervals) at "Bim Bam Bino." She pulls out ten of her own hairs, and draws a quick sketch of a face with a bald patch. One hand holds up some of these hairs triumphantly, and since there are only five of them, she writes down the numbers from one to ten in a line underneath them. A knee guard protects one of a man's legs covered in spiky hairs. The legs go up to meet a pair of buttocks. Next to the knee guard von Platen has written "Kniefick-Schoner" (lit. a knee-fuck guard, "go fuck your knee" is an expression used only in German-speaking countries and is equivalent to the English "go fuck yourself.").

The fact that von Platen's oeuvre also possesses strong painterly qualities is demonstrated by those drawings where, for example, a completely darkened girl's face can be seen from the front, looking out at the world in amazement and consternation. The rapid water-color strokes produce a depth which is less textured than transparent. When in conversation von Platen says that she rejects the product in order to make the process apparent, what she means probably is that the product as an (aesthetic) trap is something misleading, because, amongst other things, it conceals contradictions, leads to false premises and gives the impression of diffuse consequences.

Von Platen's creative approach bars her from producing works which are holistic in the sense of their appearance. She prefers the piecemeal: fragments of ideas, ideograms, ironic and self-mocking clippings. She often uses meandering and convoluted routes to link an idea, a feeling, with its implementation. As a result, drawings like the girl's face mentioned above are less common. The momentary mood which it expresses, must however be seen in context, as the sole means of rendering a feeling visible. "My life," says Eva von Platen, "is permanent control." Her work is the constant attempt to give form to her own chaos, and her attitude is one of strength, and is also characterized by a socio-political approach.






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