The conceptual artist Margret Eicher, in whose works baroque pictorial art meets digital collage and material artistry meets electronic motif creation, offers insights into her postmodern Arcadia in conversation with the art and cultural scholar Wolfgang Ullrich.
Since the arrival of the first automatic copier for plain paper, the Xerox 914, in 1960, photocopying has been one of the most common means of reproduction in art movements such as the Fluxus movement or Mail Art. In the history of so-called Copy Art, the form of CopyCollage established by Margret Eicher occupies a special position. The artist's early compositions, based on the repetition and variation of patterns, are represented in the collection of the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, as are her media collages that meander across the walls. In them, the courtly tradition of the 16th and 17th centuries, the tapestry, becomes the cultural-historical background of mass-media image complexes without claiming to be original, as Wolfgang Ullrich puts it:
»In terms of content, Eicher takes up what is of most interest in a society that is in many other ways rearistocratizing itself. She gives the new nobility – the celebrities and stars – a stage. From athletes to philosophers, from politicians to top models, it is primarily those who enjoy special media resonance and thus prominence who appear. While once a ruler might have allowed himself to be favorably posed on the tapestry, Margret Eicher shows today's powerful and rich – the winners within the economy of attention – but in the mode of exaggeration and ironic refraction.«
The appropriation and alienation of historical icons in modernist art forms the center of Margret Eicher's body of work. Hybrid, the works move between mythic narrative and compiled media world. Within the ornamental borders that frame her wall works and collages, space and time become intertwined. The artist's media tapestries are iconological interpretations of a visual culture, a confirmation of social theorist Niklas Luhmann's thesis: »What we know about our society, indeed about the world we live in, we know through the mass media.«
Margret Eicher: Artist
Wolfgang Ullrich: Art and cultural scientist
Sarah Donata Schneider: ZKM | Knowledge – Collection, Archives & Research
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