The principles of auspicious perception

There is a latently deceptive element inherent to situations in which works by the artist Marina Faust are presented. It seems as if the collages, videos, or chair sculptures were not entirely in the place where they are being shown, due to their overall exteriority from their actual purpose or movement. They are referring to a larger whole, as it were, a more comprehensive, a more substantial production than what is presently apprehensible at the moment of contemplation. In the videos, these are very short sequences, whose effect is nevertheless of considerably greater permanence and complexity. In “she wished she would” (2000), for example, it is a temporal collapse of the universal delight at the sight of daisies on the one hand, and the certitude of the popular plant’s highly unlikely appearance near the eye of the actress on the other. Emphasized this way, the eye however is portrayed as a searching eye, as if it was oblivious to the floral decoration around it, or possibly cannot even distinguish it as such due to the close proximity to the visual organ. These continual slight cracks in the narrative, with their emotional reminiscences of and loose references to classic (art) films such as Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s Un chien andalou (1929) or Věra Chytilová’s Daisies (1966), which simultaneously continue to feed the yearning for deciphering what has been seen, also occur in the following two videos produced by the artist between 1994 and 2004.

In “where we started” (1997), first a figure becomes visible and subsequently another, taking up the pursuit of some unknown; the uncanny determination of the two anonymous figures in pursuit, wearing wiry face protection and on an indeterminable pursuit vehicle, is broken up by the perception of short, recurring time frames during which the recognition of at least one of the two pursuers seems possible owing to additional incidence of light. In “nur run” (1998), on the other hand, the protagonist herself appears to be on the run, while her white attire, including her snow glasses, hints at the sci-fi cinema from the 1960s and 1970s as spherical inspiration. The narrow field of vision would hardly permit any definitive conclusions as to the particular type of movement were it not for the title’s reference to the fleeing person’s act of running. These are distortions within the subjective vision that in film is also referred to as “POV” (Point of View), yet which simply finds no possible correspondence in the spectacled protagonist. Presented as loops these videos seem to provide the viewer with a greater quantity of vision and hence also knowledge; however, this rarely serves to completely resolve what is seen and rather multiplies irritations with the purpose of putting on a performance of the viewer’s voyeurism itself. Loosely based on Lessing’s theorem, according to which “the more we see, the more we must be able to imagine. And the more we imagine, the more we must think we see” 1*, it is these delicate yet ambiguous games in and with apperception that determine the variety of artistic approaches of Marina Faust in a diverse range of media, elegantly shifting genre attributions and throwing opening other, new windows of opportunity to further horizons of meaning.

Thus, vintage make-up stools originally intended for boudoirs from the 1960s to 1970s, fitted with wheels and upholstered with colorful plush, are stripped of their functional properties and presently turned into a gaudy, quasi-mobile feast for the eyes as so-called “Rolling Stools”. The artist developed the principle of the “Traveling Chairs” in her film work “Gallerande” (2004), in which the behind-the-scenes process of filmmaking became the central, principal motif of the film through a large number of camera operators filming themselves while filming. For a long tracking shot, some of the cinematographers were pushed in a specifically adapted “wheelchair” to ensure the steadiness of the camera during a tour of the set. This adaptation subsequently led to the series of sculptures “Traveling Chairs”, whose operation as a vehicle requires a second person and whose utilization not only permits a somewhat cumbersome form of movement, yet thereby again evokes something filmic and effects a change in the perception of the person pushed as well as their appearance in the eyes of others. For this purpose, the artist uses chairs found, collected, and picked up on the streets of Paris; occasionally also vintage designer chairs such as Philippe Starck’s model “Louis 20”, which in succession is renamed “Louis Bleu” and with its new features takes on a completely different utility, and, having been completely renewed beyond the narrow definitions and functions of its design, an unusual, expanded appearance. In her alienation of the original function of the children’s toy “Fashion Faces”, Faust does not recreate the intended, stereotypical Barbie-look-alikes, but instead developed a collage series called “Faces”, in which the most diverse range of techniques and the documentation of their application on photographic paper or pigment printing on semi-transparent silk tissue paper generate a varied series of different heads, which essence breathe in cubist portraits by modernist painters like Alexandra Exter, Francis Picabia or Fernand Léger, and illustrate the process of perception, the movement of the viewer’s recognition, this process of harmonizing the characteristics and features that shape a face in a cartoon-like, picturesque, and playful manner. In their joint presentation these different works can connect with each other at those many points within Marina Faust’s oeuvre, in which they are respectively inscribed with a generous media openness, continual mobility, and clever, subtle wit.

Christian Egger, Vienna, 2021