Follow The Yellow
“Why chess?” I asked as we re-entered the gallery. “It’s my passion,” he responded immediately. Included in the show is a giant black pawn made of records, as well as a wall of vintage chess pieces in the gallery’s bookstore, an aggregate piece titled ‘Pawn Shop.’
It wasn’t until later, when I sat down to write about the show, that I realized the implications of the chess pieces—the show is very much like a game of chess: grids everywhere, hidden motions and movements, and a precise guiding of the viewer along as if through a carefully orchestrated series of moves. Whether this game ends in checkmate or is one that continues throughout the artist’s career is an open question.
With a combination of youthful eagerness and professorial earnestness, Hildebrandt led me through the show, piece by piece, explaining each with a kind of awe that they actually hung before him. His signature materials are all remnants of bygone recording devices: audio cassette and VHS tape are used as canvas, the recordings beneath, paradoxically, are sometimes recordings of the artist making the piece at hand, sometimes musicians he was listening to when making the piece, or an Orson Welles film—but you’d never know.
A corny Pinterest craft project—the vintage music record melted and made into a bowl—becomes, through Hildebrandt’s hand, exaggerated into forming walls that guide the viewer through the gallery, and a “Babylonian tower” that is eighteen meters high and which projects through all three floors of the gallery and into the basement, visible through a grate. It’s a visual marvel that occurs throughout the show and leaves an unanswerable curiosity: what do those many hours of recording hold? What music echoes behind the pieces’ monumental silence?
Above: 'Kleines Feld' and 'weiße Bewegungn (zu PAAR),' 2018.
In the first inner chamber lies a photograph of a woman in yellow dancing, the picture broken up across a wall-size grid of cassette tape cases. “I loved it so much,” Hildebrandt said. “She gives you the movement that you have to come in. I call it ‘Follow the Yellow.’”
In the largest section at the heart of the show is a giant painting that runs across miles of cassette tape that is built into the walls of the gallery like a curtain, the painting running in gigantic strokes that dip into a negative—becoming, all of a sudden, not only set back into the wall, but black becomes white, white becomes black, then the same paint stroke flows out and returns to its original, positive iteration, leaving the viewer to wonder which is the positive and which the negative. This monumental piece was done in a single session while a friend played live music and Sonya, the woman in yellow, danced. On top of music and film being hidden in the materials of his work, he has taken it one step further: he’s embedded a live performance with no audience.
It’s Abstract Expressionism with a soundtrack—the opening pieces he pointed out in the beginning are made on cassette recordings of a band Hildebrandt collaborated with for this show, a Munich-based group called, simply, PAAR. The bold, painterly gestures are direct references to the group’s music, just as the gigantic room-size piece is reference to the live music that played as he made it. One music is inaccessible, a performance that only exists in the memory of those who saw it, and the other is available in the bookstore: the PAAR record, pre-warped, is available on the way in (or out).
'In meiner Wohnung gibt es viele Zimmer' is on view now until December 22 at Perrotin New York.
Lead image: 'Mit Henkeln aus Nephrit,' 2018; all photos courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.