Antje Krause-Wahl

"Dry Ice"

Friday, December 15 // 12.00h // JGU Fakultätssaal Philosophicum


In the exhibition “The American Sublime“ (Tate Britain, 2002), Frederic Edwin Church’s images of natural phenomena, such as fog, were located in the tradition of European landscape painting.  Sublime experiences, caused by overwhelming natural phenomena that cannot be fully understood, are central in explaining their impact on the viewer. This concept of the sublime continues in (US-)American abstract art, notably in Lyotard’s essay “The Sublime and the Avant Garde“ (1984).

Fog can be found in a variety of artworks made in the late 1960s: In Judy Chicago’s, Lloyd Hemrol’s and Eric Orr’s Disappearing Environments (1967), in James Rosenquist’s installations Horizon. Home Sweet Home and Slush Trust (Leo Castelli Gallery, Galerie Rolf Ricke, 1970), in Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Sculpture #47773 (1970), that was developed with Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) to be displayed at the Expo 1970 in Osaka, or in Hitoshi Nomura’s Dry Ice (1969).
These works follow the tendency that has been famously described as dematerialization of the art object, at the same time they involve participants in obscuring their view through the dense vapors of fog. However it is crucial that the artists used dry ice to create the mist. Dry ice is produced with the help of solid carbon dioxide, which sublimates, therefore goes directly into a gaseous state. This characteristic turns dry ice into a material associated with future technologies on the one hand (it was brought into clouds with the objective of controlling the weather) and magic and horror on the other.

My talk will not focus on fog, but on the materiality of dry ice. By locating the various works within the technological, cultural and political contexts of their time, I will show how dry ice is used as a conceptual means. It reconfigures the status of art in an environment shaped by new technologies and it addresses the breaking up or disappearing of the clear boundaries between different media.

Dr. Antje Krause-Wahl, studied Art / Art Education, Literary Studies and Art History, Professor for Art History with a focus on Contemporary Art at the Department for Art History, Goethe-University Frankfurt. Research topics include (Artists’) magazines, art and fashion, artist’s identity, painting and the theory of painting, interdependencies between digital culture and contemporary art, queer studies, and visual culture.
Publications relevant to the conference topic: In Terms of Painting, published with Eva Ehninger, Berlin: Revolver Publishing 2016; Vereinzelt Schauer – Formen von Wetter published by the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main 2013