Michael Beutler – Criss Cross Garage

Press release as an interview

Pinksummer: Your installations, your works (does it make sense to distinguish the part and the
whole?), are beautiful and excessive constructions. An excess, for how paradoxical saying so
might sounds, without redundancy, as if you managed to activate only some possibilities among
the many existing within the disorder. Heinz Von Foester theorized the principle of an “order from
noise”, according to which a self-organized system is able to produce order from the environmental
noise, causing the reduction of redundancy, even though just in aleatory form. Etymologically the
word chaos is tied to chance, however nothing seems accidental in your process and the flexibility
implied by your vision seems rather tied to the idea of circumstance. Disorder is not a
circumstance, it is instead consubstantial with matter, that is determinist and structured per-se.
Disorder cannot be removed, it endures beside the circular order/organization relationship and
makes every process, every project of yours, a suspended and temporary miracle, in which every
development, every information, every progress is paid in entropy. Your work has the nonperspectival
system of Flemish painting, that renders the world through the sum of its details in
which one can get lost as if he was in a forest, because the invisible, if does exist, gets lost in the
immanence of that thick forest too. Could the idea of non finito, of work in progress, which is
distinctive of Michael Beutler works, just be lying there?

Michael Beutler: The gallery, exhibition, work, installation,… the situation is probably the viewing
point into the thick forrest. Being there, is having a slight distance to the density of the forest like
being on an opening, or a „Lichtung“ in German. There is a chance within the making that some of
the sticks and branches of that forest get rearranged into another existence. A forest installation
system of its own, even though based on the very nature of common physics. No miracles just
observations of relations between action and material, social engagement, vibrating reality.
I like to point out a text that once Gerry Bibby was so kind to write:
Solution Problem or
Imperfect Invention Machine
Inside of a big reverberating nothing much, forces were coagulating, an affair blossoming.
Elements strewn around not performing or in fact something else were drawn into a solution
problem.
By soliciting this, squashing that, pushing and bending, cutting and joining, shapes were born.
Another body was perceived which could behave on the elements. It would attempt to imitate the
fledgling shapes. It was also born. It had moving parts, used wet things, heavy things, hard things.
Ripping and wrapping were fed to this body that did not grow. It spat out images of itself yet
because they resembled the problem, their reflections were never truly alike.
Alone, they could be given funny names, sit inside the bigger place and they described an impulse.
In various constellations of togetherness however– brought about for example by stacking, leaning,
weaving– these shapes became yet other forms which estimated the solution.
A door appeared, leading to a long narrow pathway where light from over there made its wall glow.
They remembered standing on that spot, where before there was no wall or door and they
remembered the sound of grunting as a large flat field was adulterated into behaving as this
runway drawn in yellow.
The solution was to do something, why not and perhaps where?
Its problem translated the how, with what and by whom.
Look. Look what happened! That blue holds up this greenish colour sliced by that pink.
The two end walls of a rectangular room were also rectangular and were begging for an equilateral
triangle with its sides equal to the base of the wall, it’s apex near piercing the ceiling. Elicit the best
way to project this triangle through the length of the room.
The problem had been given its body that did not grow after the fuel had been decided upon,
gathered, their limits tested and their possibilities investigated. It then had to be handled by a few
to many, who mimicked this other body which nearly resembled their own by doing things with it
and feeding it repeatedly.
Shift this, pull that, poke that and push. Shove this, glue that, heave and push.
Sometimes the ingenuity of the original births lost their big bang and the ‘whom’ added other
elements and methods or they exaggerated the problem’s process. At other times, the fuel failed,
slumped a little and altered the solution’s surface, illuminating a joke.
A big pile of solution stood around perhaps embellishing that detail from the wall it stood near. It
presented itself right there yet it’s problem suggested itself all over. Her decision to add this then,
his to leave that out, the weight and balance of that section and the contraption they used all
imbued the solution with an indelible mobility.

PS: Luciano Gallino, sociology teacher at the University in Turin who was concerned with
transformation of work and unemployment too, asserted that a country that does not care about
manufacturing industry meant as proper industry, cannot help becoming a colony, as
manufacturing industry beyond granting employment and income structures people’s life by
entering their houses.
Entering your great house/studio in a moment of collective industrious excitement due to an
upcoming project, we came across a self-organized system that, even though open and
permeable, does not has the intention to become a colony at all. We noticed that even the coffee
machine in your kitchen presented some minor technical/aesthetic improvements in your distinctive
fashion and, we are joking a bit now knowing that you were not the cook, as a matter of fact the
very beautiful red turnip strudel we ate, seemed to be informed by the same magic, or rather
marvelous, realism that distinguish your functional intention beside delimiting your space.
Indeed technology appears to be an unavoidable issue in respect of your production. In his book
“Der Arbeiter” Ernst Jünger wrote about the worker “In him is the drunkenness of knowledge which
origin is not only logical, and there is a pride of technical conquests, the pride towards an unlimited
dominion over space, in which one can recognize the omen of a recondite will of power, still in
germ” and then “All the technical conquests serve simply as armour for unexpected battles and
unsuspected revolts”. Against the mystical agrarianism of Blut und Boden, Jünger asserted that
wherever an agriculturist can use a machine, he cannot be called a peasant. What could we tell
about an artist who invents his machines from scratch and display them beside his works,
accomplished gesture of their function, by emphasising their sudden obsolescence? We could dare
saying that you tend to solve the myth of art in its mere productive function and, as a matter of fact,
your technology fashioned aesthetic feels like political, almost existential. Is it perhaps an invitation
to resistance, against a consumption that structure the existence of the individuals and the
collectivity, beyond any progress, aiming only to perpetrate its own by now most tangible
obsolescence?

MB: I wonder about the machines. They complete the image and are not so much machines, but
hand tools. They just help with the order aspect and take care of a probably boring part of
production. I have a problem now, since the tool invention I made, the one which is quite
substantial to the things I am going to show at pinksummer sits in my workshop and is a regular
woodwork machine, a plainer/ thicknesser or jointer… Well I added some parts to the thing to have
it only cut wood of the surface in certain areas, to be then able to weave the wood in a specific
grid. What would this plainer do in the gallery, when it is so very much attached to the workshop it
lives in? This situation seems different. The exhibition circle seems to have grown out of that forest
into my studio. I am here with my assistance, we produce stock of this material and work with it, to
source its capacities, figure out the options and find us not only using the plainer but also a regular
paintbrush. Would you say it is ok for a machine invention artist to use a paintbrush? I actually
enjoyed it a bit for a little while and a couple of edges, but was then keen to pass it on to the next
holder, giving some directions, developing a paint system. The machines dissolve into action. And
for this specific job the mere paintbrush is the better tool. No invention needed. Other actions need
more materialisation to become independent, powerful maybe. So even if sitting silently amongst
the produce these tools, machines, material objects represent action and possibility or if you like an
invitation to activity and not much of obsolescence.
The suggestion I have to Ernst Jünger is to also dissolve the idea of machine as a preparation
against something towards a machine as a preparation within something, as something that
connects. I believe that the most beautiful machine for a peasant would be one, that is so very
much part of the system of his agriculture that it totally dissolves in it. If this than can cope with
colonial demands is a different question.

PS: Maybe it was because of your air as a craftsman, but before having dinner with you we would
have bet that you were vegetarian and we would have lost that bet, since actually you have nothing
to do with the vegetarian kind.
Looking at your work it seems clear that you like playing, still you have nothing to do with the homo
ludens adult type. Your playing is not superfluous and game does not conquers you as a player.
You play as seriously as pets do, no matter if they are human, cats or bear pets. While writing, we
think at the funny video of you, serious and busy in some specific task related to some of your
monumental construction, driving a little car that really looks like a toy. The poor materials you use,
on which much has been written in respect of your work, are inexpensive and easy to find within
the idea of a workshop, even though, it is demonstrable, you are doing well also with concrete and
bricks whenever you have the right occasion to do so, in spite of the fact that in ordinary life with
such materials skyscrapers and infrastructures are seriously built. Why did you decide to act in the
temporary sphere of play with no jest called art? Is it a matter of freedom, of developing a more
selective autonomy?

MB: My dear band saw is struggling. I have these tools that belong to the ordinary life realm. They
are great, when they work. When they have a problem they might lead you to strangest places in
weirdest neighborhoods to find parts and advice. The saw problem is very big, but it is just a tiny
little scratch on the surface of that mechanical organism out there. I would probably get it solved
and I have heard of a guy Rudi, who could probably pimp the thing to whatever speeds I want my
band saw to run, but I would be totally relying on that guy and the time that is needed to do
something.
When one is playing, one might be modulating and shaping time. If I build the tools myself, I also
decide how many folds are made in how many minutes, hours or days. The outcome might be
limited to those simple materials, but it also means more freedom of play, of decisions, of
possibilities and those off track roads, that only come to the surface when one is hands on
throughout all of the process. I like those routes.

PS: Criss Cross Garage is the title you gave to your first solo show at pinksummer. What does that
title mean? What will you present at pinksummer?

MB: Garages are wonderful places, when they have been turned into workshops. I turn galleries
into workshops, hence garage exhibitions. I have a garage show at pinksummer. What is that
garage show made of? Of material in in criss cross fashion. I like weaving. I might have got it from
the work I did for my former teacher Thomas Bayrle, or from my crafty home background, or I
might simply like it because it is such a simple, way of making a surface out of lines.
I have this stock of weavable material produced here and will bring it along to Genua. I keep the
decision of what I will make of it to the day I arrive at the pink summer garage.