Samuel Schaab | Repeat All

A stone – formed an eternity ago, it has outlasted generations and civilisations; stable and durable, yet also nothing more than compressed matter, back into which it too will eventually crumble. In the meantime, in the interval of its existence as stone, just like everything made, an archive from where the past can be read, a storage medium, one that decays with grand inertia, a ruin.

The works of today are the ruins of the future. A sound recording on magnetic tape, an instable storage medium of words soon no longer comprehensible. Heads of stone, constructs and machines of steel, structures of concrete, fleeting idols and symbols of the hierarchies from societies which history brings forth in cycles, only to let them collapse again. Wind and tides ablate the material relicts of social systems, layer by layer, extinguish their archives; new societies overwrite them, constantly producing further archives, still unread. What man creates so that it outlives his own earthly span of being is no less delicate than his very own existence.

But whilst we exist, we continue to give things meaning, forming them, burdening them. A stone, at first nothing more than just another exchangeable fragment from an imposing rock formation, is removed and aligned, de-scribed and dis-cussed, ex-posed and in-spected. Mute matter is turned into an object with meaning. Give up the inspecting and discussing though, and if descriptions are lost or become indeterminable, then the meaning evaporates too.

The word serves the description, combinable and re-combinable out of a given set of elements, a vocabulary. A vocabulary also underlies Schaab’s sculptures and installations, time and time again newly coupled single pieces – metal parts, pipes, cables, sound sources, light fixtures, and images – melt into complex structures which intimate a possible or a one-time function and usage. Massive and fragile at once, they suggest a delicately sensitive balance of powerful forces, which would be released upon the slightest tilt.

A Schaab exhibition is not the presentation of single works, it is the setting up of a system for a limited time, interwoven in the respective space. The sound, light and material of individual works interpenetrate, visual and perceptual axes overlay one another, and ever new nexuses and links emerge. The living encounters the dead, the fleeting the concrete – white black, voice stone. In an eternal loop of iterations, ascribing and dispersing follow one another.

Text: Moritz Stipsicz, 2017

Video “Repeat All” by Samuel Schaab based on the exhibition at unttld contemporary