Subjectifying Space | Jürgen Tabor, 2010

on Judith Fegerl’s installation “Implant” on display in the groupshow “The World as a Backdrop”, Galerie im Taxispalais, 2010

In the newly developed work Implant, Judith Fegerl takes up her debate with the construction, functionality and identity of rooms. What Fegerl examines with this work – following her interest in interfaces and links between machines and the body, technology and consciousness, inorganic and organic material – is a kind of “personalisation” of rooms. The direct predecessor to Implant was the work SELF (2010), in which Fegerl divested an entire art institution not only of all its fitments, connections and lighting elements, but also revealed the technical infrastructure concealed in the floor and walls in order to show the room itself. By contrast to this, in the case of Implant – in a similar way to biogenetic reproduction processes – a room was regenerated on the spot, on the basis of existing, transplantable elements, so making it analogous to the design of the existing exhibition rooms.

Specifically, Judith Fegerl conceived the cubic room for the foyer of the gallery, which is on the basement floor. The foyer, defined by concrete walls and glass and wooden elements, forms an intersection where a staircase, doors and connecting corridors meet. It can also be seen into from several sides and from the higher level of the ground floor. The room implant fills this vestibule area almost completely. And because the room initially “turns its back” on the viewer, it is necessary to force one’s way along a narrow corridor in order to get inside it. This restriction, continuing in the claustrophobic impression conveyed by the compact inner space, means that the participating observer’s attention is not only directed to the body of the room, but also towards himself. Once inside the room, the space proves to be a white cube, whereas its appearance from the

outside is rough and uncovered. Since it permits several possible perspectives, the room becomes an object: in this way, something that is expected to function as background – as neutral as possible, even “invisible” in the customary business of exhibitions – becomes tangible.

Quite capable of functioning as an exhibition space in principle, although it remains empty, the room is a kind of offshoot, a model-like reduplication of  the gallery’s specific exhibition architecture. It quasi doubles the existing purist spatial design – on the one hand via reproduction, on the other hand due to the integration of a part of the ceiling cladding, lighting elements and several electrical sockets from the neighbouring exhibition rooms. The gaps that these temporary transplants cause are left in place, as openings that disclose a view of what lies behind – the rooms’ inner life. Through the form of reproduction, but also via its spatial positioning and the connections which provide the room with energy and information, the implant is linked to and networked into the superordinate architecture, which also accommodates it. In this context, Judith Fegerl sets about subjectifying the room. The term “implant” represents an understanding of space and technology that affirms analogies to the organic body and human subjectivity. In a similar way, the physical elements of the room’s structure can be described using terms such as skeleton and skin, and its supply systems as arteries and nerve tracts. It also seems as if the room implant has developed a form of consciousness when Fegerl describes its situation within the bigger, surrounding architecture: “almost defiantly, it turns its open side towards a wall, actually only taking up space. It represents the room’s emerging selfawareness of its dependencies and origins.”1 The offshoot quasi refuses to be restricted functionally as exhibition rooms are normally, objecting to being put into service like the previous generation. For the metaphor into which she weaves her work Implant, Fegerl refers to the understanding of machines formulated by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their book Anti-Oedipus (1972) as “a striving to place technology in the same context as the social, psychical and biological.”2

The drawings by Judith Fegerl reproduced in the catalogue should be understood analogously. They visualise a variant construction of the socalled “hyper-cube”, a 4-dimensional cube. Common animations of this geometric figure show a large cubic space that initially accommodates a smaller space at its centre; however, this moves outwards in a rotating motion, increasing in size and finally settling over the formerly bigger space. In Fegerl’s series of drawings, the smaller room moves away from the bigger one and ultimately separates from it completely. In a comparable way, Fegerl’s room implant emancipates itself from the original architecture and quasi develops its own individuality. The idea that complex rooms and technologies may be equipped with a kind of consciousness seems like an extremely speculative thesis. Nevertheless, the metaphor of the room as subject indicates that different aims and systems of order, but also wishes and phantasms form part of the design, functionality or general nature of rooms and integrated technologies. And as dense complexes they have a reciprocal performative impact on their users.

1_ Judith Fegerl, e-mail the author, 2. 12. 2010.
2_ Henning Schmidgen, Das Unbewußte der Maschinen. Konzeptionen des Psychischen bei Guttari, Deleuze und
Lacan, Munich 1997, p. 158.