Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

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Max Klinger at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Strasbourg, and OH MAH GAWD IS SHE BACK OR WAT

by Suzanne on July 22nd, 2012

An die Schönheit; Vom Tode Zweiter Teil by Max Klinger, etching, 1890, courtesy V&A London - click to enlarge

Hi. I guess I'm back. Let's see whether I can still werq dis blog, yo.

In case you were wondering, I've been mainly hanging out over on FB (yes, yes, I know... stop looking at me like that - it just so happens that most of my online contacts are over there and it's just been too convenient to stay in touch). Anyway, just like most other anti-social online platforms, I'm using FB in a very unusual and actually useful way so if you care about getting a more daily dose of Wurzeltod®, you can subscribe to its public updates.

I'll try to do a better job at mirroring my FB posts to my Twitter like I used to do in the past for all those of you who rightly boycott FB, but let's face it, it's just not in my nature to ever be concise enough to tweet successfully.

I have also fed the forum with loads of new content, so go check it out and please note that a lot of the posts are NSFW. I can highly recommend the Symbiosis/Parasitism/Mutual Decay, the Eros & Thanatos as well as the Eyeballs thread. They make me happy. Yes they do.

Flickr update is also imminent, btw, maybe this news is of interest to those of you who still mainly remember me for sporting industrial insulation tape on nipples and other shit we used to do on Fotolog in the early noughties for reasons I now ABSOLUTELY cannot remember.

NEVER MIND.. on to more important matters now: Art that doesn't suck. We'll start with painter, sculptor and engraver genius Max Klinger.

Brahmsphantasie, Opus XII: Abduction of Prometheus by Max Klinger, etching, 1894 - click to enlarge

Max Klinger. We had him here back in 2008 with two examples from his magnificent dream-inspired Paraphrases about the Finding of a Glove series from 1881.

Now the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg is presenting a vast range of his engravings in a show called Max Klinger - The Theatre of the Bizarre which, as the title suggests, hopes to focus on how Klinger was forever driven by dream imagery and the relentless search for ways to visualise the cryptic, the elusive, the primordial, the eldritch, the uncharted, the subconscious.

Strasbourg hasn't sent me the press login through yet but with the museum's graphic arts room housing nearly 200 of Klinger's engravings, I can guarantee you that you will find some fantastic oneiric trouvailles at this retrospective.

Details below.

Rettungen Ovidischer Opfer, Opus II: Erstes Intermezzo by Max Klinger, etching, courtesy British Museum London - click to enlarge

On show: May 15 - Sep 16, 2012

Address: Museum of Modern and contemporary Art (MAMC), 1, place Hans Jean Arp, Strasbourg, France, tel: +33 (0)3 88 23 31 31 | Map

Hours: Tue - Sun: 10 AM - 6 PM

Admission: €7

Press release

WurzelForum discussion


by Suzanne on January 15th, 2012

Very urgent life matters to deal with - no time for this.

I'll be back. I always am.

Take care.


- Suzanne

20 Most Popular Posts on Wurzeltod in 2011

by Suzanne on December 26th, 2011

To wrap up 2k11 on the Wurzelblog, I decided to post the 20 articles you guys liked best - according to likes, shares and reactions - and I must say, you've got a rather amazing and futureproof taste in the arts, people.

Many thanks for taking the time to submit stories, comment and interact in the past year(s).

(In order of popularity and ordered into rather random categories. Click on images to read stories.)





(Late) Crismis YouTube Special

by Suzanne on December 25th, 2011

Please excuse the lack of updates in the recent past, gentle reader. It's due to very bad internet access that pretty much only allows me to update my Facebook with the usual award-winning and highly offensive daily dose of anti-information.

Anyways, because this is an oh-so special time of consumerist rubbishness, I decided that I should really annoy you and your family with some very obnoxious LOLmas videos for absolutely no reason.

Featuring an awesome Jewish kid, a very disappointed non-Jewish kid, Heino, as well as Irish and 3D creepiness. Thanks to PoE for the inspiration and beautiful and very talented Suzanne Walsh for the Moving Crib video from her homeland.


Oh, and if you made it this far without an intracerebral hemorrhage, I suggest you now lock yourself in a pitch-black room with this video projected onto all four walls. Then swallow the key.

Merry Whatever from Wurzeltod. x

Richard Stipl at High Roller Society, London - Pictures

by Suzanne on November 18th, 2011

By Richard Stipl, photo by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

Earlier this month, after visiting Essence of Edo-Tokyo at ICN, I decided to take the little journey from my old London home in Bethnal Green down Roman Road to check out one of the most daring and fascinating group shows of the year: Savant - curated by Joe Becker at High Roller Society. I posted about it here.

By Richard Stipl, photo by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

I left deeply impressed by the oeuvres of Richard Stipl, Peggy Kouroumalos and particularly Rory Dean - whose paintings I expected to be much larger - and it became apparent that the one thing that all the featured artists had in common was a very obsessive-compulsive joyful drive to create. You could almost touch their collective exuberant imagination and the electric heat of their synapses during the creation of this show. And that's a very rare thing to feel at a group show - so chapeau to Joe for putting this show together and selecting such a great bunch of fellow artists.

By Richard Stipl, photo by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

Also massive thanks to Jennifer Moran who runs High Roller for taking the time - on Guy Fawkes Night, no less - to show me around the exhibition, dig out secret works from the High Roller treasure trove and for discussing techniques, misunderstood artists, monsters and... dentures.

More of this kind of stuff in London please!

Savant runs until November 27.

By Richard Stipl, photo by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

Impressions of "Essence of Edo-Tokyo" featuring Ryo Arai at ICN, London

by Suzanne on November 17th, 2011

Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

Although I missed the opening reception for Ryo Arai's show at London's ICN Gallery, I did manage to check it out after a fantastic Liberty Snake ZeroZeroNain organised by Misanthropop that saw some of London's best post-punk DJs and connoisseurs come together.

Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

Anyways, after admittedly being initially a bit disappointed that the sculpture on the exhibition flyer was not actually on show, everything completely made up for that slight flaw. So much so that this is hands down my favourite London show of 2k11 after Charles Matton's Enclosures at All Visual Arts earlier this year.

Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

It was tricky to capture all the details of the gorgeous papier-mâché texture of the sculptures in the photos but I hope you nevertheless enjoy these impressions of the show.

Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

What's more is that the ICN staff was extremely sweet, helpful and very knowledgeable and I purchased an absolutely gorgeous and apparently out-of-print Ryo Arai monograph for as little as a handful of sushi.

Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

East London can be glad to have this magical new place delivering so much Japanese ocular and culinary goodness to the area.

Essence of Edo-Tokyo will remain on view until this Saturday, November 19, so do go check it out if you're in London.

Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

A Mid-November Dance with Death

by Suzanne on November 16th, 2011

Pest from Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände by Carl Merkel & Johann Gottfried Flegel, Leipzig, 1850 - click to enlarge

"I cook doom in the air and what breathes has to die."

It's this time of year again - a time of such enormous transformation and transmutation in nature - when I find myself doing strange and silly things like obsessively reading the Nibelungen or losing myself in Skyrim because of some ominous melancholy and a deep longing for being reunited and rot away with the earth, the elements, of sinking, of dissolving, of dreamless thankful sleep.

And I really miss how this time of year feels like in my homeland. I miss the magic of how the mist and will-o'-the-wisps rise magnificently over the frosty fields and graveyards, how the forests creak with the cold like old bones, how the crows complain over the lack of grains, how the dormice hurriedly prepare their beds of leaves for a harsh winter.

Jungfrau from Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände by Carl Merkel & Johann Gottfried Flegel, Leipzig, 1850 - click to enlarge

"Youth, so fiery, with cheeks so red. So blissful is love - so hideous is death."

I miss the lake steaming in the morning, I miss still gasping at that fierce, majestic and omnipotent ancient natural fortification wall, the Alps, putting on its snowy white coat under the absolutely colourless and closed heavens even though I have seen its sight a million times. I miss the smell of bonfires and the sound of whips cracking in the clear glassy evening air. I miss hearing cowbells and spotting lanterns dancing like fireflies in the distant dark.

But mostly, I miss hiding in the medieval section of libraries hugging the radiator and a cup of really shitty instant coffee, completely immersed in studying Totentänze only to be thrown out at closing time and walking home aimlessly and hurt and finding myself in front of the Spreuer Bridge - that illustrated passage over the river Reuss talking to me so vividly from 1630 via the playful and treacherous skeletons of Caspar Meglinger.

Deliquent from Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände by Carl Merkel & Johann Gottfried Flegel, Leipzig, 1850 - click to enlarge

"One death as retribution for the other. So does both justice and crime serve me."

Growing up in Catholic Switzerland meant I've seen A LOT of danse macabres in my early childhood and by the time I moved to Protestant Basel to study, I was ready for their more scientific, demystified and bürgerliche understanding of the dance of death. I can't say I understood it at first - I felt it was sorely lacking in the flamboyant Baroque accusatory celebration of decadence and the deadly sins. Protestant Totentänze are never about a sexy death. What I saw was a way more silent and depressing death. Anonymous diseases finishing people off from within instead of inebriated tomfoolery until the very end and very dull modest existences just being blown out rather than the grotesque fights for life and death seen in Catholic cycles.

It took a short train journey in 2002 from Basel to the university library of Freiburg im Breisgau (it's a fucking Goth uni - the art department was literally in the catacombs) to rekindle my love for the Totentanz. It was there where I found a copy of the Leipzig Todtentanz für alle Stände (Dance of Death for all Classes) - excerpts of which you can see here.

Handwerker from Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände by Carl Merkel & Johann Gottfried Flegel, Leipzig, 1850 - click to enlarge

"This house that you have built for yourself - let me see whether it fits you."

Todtentanz für alle Stände was conceived by Carl Merkel and the woodcuts are by the absolutely fantastic Johann Gottfried Flegel. It was published in Leipzig in 1850. You can read the entire book here. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried when I first saw these - the carefully selected botanic symbolism of each and every scene relating to the trade or rank of the portrayed person, the way scenes turn into ornament, ornament into filigree and finally filigree into calligraphy. A whole world opened itself up to me when I first saw these and I hope you will appreciate getting lost in them too. I'm sorry I couldn't make the English translation rhyme like the German original - it would take me ages to do it gracefully.

I would like to thank my dear friend Peacay from BibliOdyssey for making me remember this very special Totentanz. You have no idea how much finding this on your blog means to me, PK.

How lucky we are to walk amongst the proud dead.

Künstler from Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände by Carl Merkel & Johann Gottfried Flegel, Leipzig, 1850 - click to enlarge

"All your hopes and aspirations were in vain - but now death is fairer than life."

Confessions of an Ill-Fitting Mask

by Suzanne on October 13th, 2011

Sometimes I write notes on Facebook - of all places - and sometimes they get really long so I thought I might post this one here as well because there's a certain lack of personal articles here. Thanks to Nana for reminding me about the book and to Rob for letting me (accidentally) rip apart his copy.

I knew I'd fall in love with Yukio Mishima's Confessions of a Mask and it's probably one of the main reasons I hadn't read it before. I wanted to read it at the right time and place where a hard look at my own childhood would be undisturbed.

I could always identify with male book characters way easier than female heroines and the only female characters I could ever fully immerse myself in were the doomed and downright pathetic ones like Madame Bovary - the ones "strong" only in their subconscious determination to really fuck things up big time.

So while I always understood stories better from a male perspective, this is the absolute first time I can also physically identify with a male character because my childhood body, my "bad habit" as Mishima calls it, awoke in a similar way - albeit a lot earlier. So early, I had to completely stop talking about it because if there's something curious about human nature, it's how we completely deny and repress the fact that we're extremely horny little animals from a very early age.

So whenever someone embraces that fact - be it in art or literature - and explains and yes, in Mishima's case you could say, exploits it passionately and vividly, I'm all ears.

It means writing against the forces who find honest looks at our early lives "disgusting", "perverted" and "misguided" when it's really just that: Brutal honesty and the willingness to remember and chronicle PRECISELY.

It's probably one of the most exhausting mental acts to bring back those memories - and in many cases, they've obviously been repressed for a reason and should maybe even stay that way forever.

In my case, however, the only reason they've been tippexed is because if there was one constant in my early childhood, it was the feeling of doing something wrong, something bad... essentially of BEING wrong, of BEING bad. I don't even know where that feeling came from as it didn't come from my parents so I have to blame generations of genetic devout Roman Catholicism for it.

Anyways, I don't really want to write about how, in a way, we're all born "perverts" but more about how we're all born guilty, all born sad.

The main reason apart from the very obvious ecological ones why I never want to put a life into this world is because I firmly believe that we are born with all the sorrow, all the weariness, all the longing, all the guilt, the Weltschmerz, the incessant coming of death (I don't believe for a second that children don't "get" the concept of death because they're so very close to it, so very mortal, so utterly incapabale of survival) but, perhaps most importantly and painfully, the full realisation that we'll never understand anything.

Babies look like old men, like used star dust thrown back together to form something really useless and compared to other animals, frankly quite ugly in shape.

One of my first childhood memories is, very similar to Mishima's actually, how some old lady bent down to take a good hard look at me when I was out with grandma and said - addressing me in the third person as if I didn't have ears.. or indeed, wasn't present: "She looks like she's carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, that little thing. Does she ever smile?"

Now, what society taught me was to put a smile on my face when people ask such questions because I would get lollipops, kisses, friends... yes, money. Instead, I hid behind my grandma's giant leg and started sobbing. I felt like I had let my guard down and that for a second, that woman saw right into me. So much so that it physically hurt.

Don't all children carry the weight of the world on their shoulders though? We are born crying and from the moment we can speak we ask the one essential question over and over and over again: Why. Why. Why.

If you're one of the lucky few, like I was, we get born to patient, imaginative parents who - often not knowing the answer to our whys themselves - just invent something glorious, something pompous, a lie so utterly megalomaniac it stills the thirst for a while, lets the mind go on an exotic journey full of colours and flavours.

I always knew it when I was being fed a make-believe, but then just like now, if the lie was pretentious and ridiculous enough, I would go along with it like a Sturm & Drang hero if it would make my brain stop aching and rotating and take it to some place else, some place far away, some place arcadian.

We are born curious escapists yet we are taught to get a firm cynical grip on reality (whatever that might be).

We are born sad wisemen and -woman yet we are taught to grow a smiling face around our masks and not ask too many questions.

I refuse. This mask and my face, they'll never fuse and when I die, I will take it off and lay it down beside me.

Impressions from Charles Matton's "Enclosures" at AVA, London

by Suzanne on September 11th, 2011

The Untidy Woman's Bedroom by Charles Matton, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

After spending some time drooling over Edwardian and Victorian dollhouses at the VA Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green for the 4th time yesterday afternoon, I decided to go check out Charles Matton's Enclosures miniature room installations and mirror mazes about which I reported earlier.

And what can I tell you, dear reader? Definitely the show of the year. If you're in London between now and October 8, DO NOT miss it. All details here.

It was a bit of a challenge taking these pictures through glass covered in fingerprints so please understand that these works look way better in person. And to give you an idea of dimensions: None of these cases is larger than 1m³ and you can see a typical layout in the last picture.

Studio of a Classical Sculptor IV – Saskia Expecting Titus III by Charles Matton, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

Studio of a Classical Sculptor II by Charles Matton, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

Sigmund Freud's Study by Charles Matton, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

Mariefried's Bathroom by Charles Matton, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

Alberto Giacometti's Studio by Charles Matton, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

The New York Loft, 26th Street by Charles Matton, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge


by Suzanne on September 1st, 2011



- S.