The Sound of Two Hands Thinking

Recently, the works of Konrad Klapheck have emerged from the rubble of Germany’s totalitarian past and positioned themselves firmly at the front of my mind. Again and again Klapheck painted type-writer after typewriter, each with its own elongated, anamorphic adjustments, its own slight alterations. Punctuating the prolifera-tion of administrative buildings across East Germany at an almost chronological rate, Klapheck’s typewriters at first appear like relics of another time. Their resolute and angular architecture—reminiscent of early incarnations of the typewriter, such as the legendarily bulky Remington—seem fossilised in comparison to the lightweight keyboard we know now. It is said that Klapheck’s paintings are surrealist in nature, his metamorphic illustrations being a kind of self-actualisation that could mean only one thing: he wanted to be a writer.1 Yet unable to put pen to paper in the way that he had dreamt, Klapheck instead put brush to canvas and constructed an image of the brute monumentality of postwar instit-utional architecture. Given the rise of and the now renewed interest in totalitarianism across the world—the fact that Hannah Arendt’s 1951 book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, became a bestseller in 2018 is proof enough of this—Klapheck’s typewriter buildings, in all their unshakeable glory, stand not just as an emblem of a state power we assumed to be of the past but also as a timely depiction of the current administrative apparatus.


Image: Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, A Letter, zincography. Courtesy the artist and ChertLudde, Berlin.


This is a preview of 'The Sound of Two Hands Thinking'. The full article can be found in Art + Australia Issue Five.

Isabelle Sully works as an artist, curator and writer. Her research is primarily concerned with the relationship between culture and administration, a lens through which the art institution is seen as legislator. Originally from Melbourne, she is now living in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, as she completes her Masters in Art Praxis at the Dutch Art Institute.  

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