Thuistezien 147 — 13.01.2021

Korpys / Löffler
The Vault

How is state power represented? How are images around huge media events, like the G20 summit, constructed? Where does the reality separates itself from fiction?

These are some of the topics that arise in the artist talk with the intriguing German artist duo Korpys / Löffler. During this talk, moderated by Baruch Gottlieb, the German artists elaborate on several artworks that were presented in the exhibition ‘The Vault’, at West — back in 2019.

As the duo is fascinated by organs from the federal government of any country, the former American embassy was the perfect location to exhibit their work. West showed a variety of works from Korpys / Löffler oeuvre, besides a newly made, site-specific project. The title of the show is referring to the top floor of the building, where the Secret Service was located whilst the embassy was still in use by the Americans. Korpys / Löffler were planning on making use of this space until it was no longer possible due to discovered asbestos traces. ‘Are you sure there’s asbestos on the top floor?’ someone from the audience inquires. Seems a legit question, even more so after you see the photos of the space, which they took instead of including the space in the exhibition. They depict details of peculiar objects and show the impenetrable atmosphere in the abandoned hallways on the top floor, amplified by contrived bits and pieces of aluminium foil - placed there to prevent any Russian neighbor from eavesdropping. Who knows what kind of secrets these hallways still hold?

Approaching these hallways in a detective-like manner is not unusual for their art practice. All the pieces by Korpys / Löffler arise from a similar departure point — they stay away from journalistic reporting techniques, and zoom in on mundane proceedings around their topic of interest, and neatly compose their films, building suspense. In their project People, Institutions, Objects, Things, the German artists play around with modern surveillance, surveilling the building of the BND, the Federal Intelligence Service. It is the largest building of Berlin, located in the city centre, which construction costs over 1 billion euros. The artists kept an eye on unimportant things lying around the building of the BND, collected as many as possible, and made very detailed reports on the former. They then rang all the departments of the BND to give detailed reports on found objects around this imposing building, such as, a yellow glove. Which is now, somewhere stored in the archive of the Federal Intelligence Service.

Throughout this talk, I sense some suspense at times, coming from the artists. They remind me of their artworks. While explaining their working method with film, the duo also touches upon building suspense. They refer to Hitchcock and the way he builds it: filming something banal, leading up to the climactic scene. It’s similar to the way Korpys / Löffler deal with suspense, yet they tend to leave out any type of climactic scene, hence the poetic atmosphere of their pieces.

Tekst: Stella Loning