christoph tannert - ulrich polster, recent works (2012) /text

ulrich polster / recent works (2012) /by christoph tannert

Ulrich Polster is not an artist whose works aim to please. His video projections would hardly pass as decorative tapestries of sound, but demand rather to be penetrated by the viewer, which may well add up to a laborious work process.
As is true of his latest pieces, two of which he will be showing at the gallery: the 3-channel video projection “Shaoxing Lu”, and the 1-channel video projection “Auslöschung” [= Extinction].
And what scenes: typically mysterious, darkly glowing, full of drama, seemingly so full of life. And yet these are but dances pointing to the mortality of our being.

It is difficult to grasp Polster’s works as a whole. The viewer has to immerse him- or herself in order to recognise the specific quality of the elements. Only once the viewer has allowed himself to be swept away by the swirling vortices of sound and vision, has swum the whole, as it were, does he arrive at clarity. Which is why Ulrich Polster conceives of his works as multi-media experiences in sound, vision and space. His approach is painterly, while his ears listen in on the delirium of his own thoughts and fantasies.
Polster’s works are aglow with an earthy expressiveness and Wagnerian opulence. He unfurls a sweeping, incredibly intense tapestry of images, structures and sounds. Narrative or melodic arcs are scarcely to be found, his concern is more with conglomerates of imagery, sound montages and poignant spaces for the imagination. The sounds accompany the play of images, drive it on, dramatise the visuals. The unexpected intervenes at every turn, allowing him to lay waste to the conventions. Slowness is the all-connecting element, each piece a long enduring track which, in its dissonance and metric extravagance, recalls the spirit of the band Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the waspishness of Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard.

“Shaoxing Lu” develops into a psychedelically veiled moment on the cusp of day and night. Using ritualised sequences, Polster has teased out an interval of calm amid the twilight.

“Auslöschung” sparks off a tide of images in the viewer’s mind which is injected with a shot of melancholy by the song he has taken from Bonnie Prince Billy: “It’s time to be clear, got news of his passing …”

Christoph Tannert is curator and art historian and lives and works in Berlin