GENIUS – Ute Heim

Ute Heim (München/D) works as a fine artist and musician. In her multilayered and complex artificial arrangements, she connects music and visual art, enactment and everyday action.

At first sight her work might seem quite strange to the visitor and one maybe does not find a direct entrance or a map to the different parts of her exhibition. But soon one will find out that her works are shifting between reality and appearance, fact and fiction, permanence and transitoriness.

A series of self portraits with a bandaged ear, for example, is entitled Ceci n'est pas V.G., an allusion to René Magritte and Vincent van Gogh. The series is combined with an x-ray-pic of her own ear. Looking at it the visitor is more and more lured into a labyrinthic trap where he cannot decide what in the end is the right trace, what is real and what is false.

So, often her work touches a widespread contemporary phenomenon: the commonly perceived lack of authenticity.This is becoming obvious when in a popular TV show, „Germany's next Topmodel“, a candidate says to one of her competitos: „You are so fake!“ You have to imagine: This is used as a reproach in a scripted reality show! Ute Heim works precisely along this shifting border, between the real and the fake, the permanent and the passing.

The title of her workseries Artistic Ruins for example is a contradiction in itself: How can ruins be artificial when they are commonly considered as witnesses of a past, but nevertheless really happened, point in time? Are ruins not the last but tangible proofs and manifested memories of a time, even in our own life, when we were still authentic, complete, identic, even when we lived in our imaginations and fairy tales?

Ute Heim's strategy is to reconstruct these ruins, these deconstructions of time, in recurring to a former artistic practice. We know it from the Renaissance and especially from the Romantic epoque, when fake ruins were decorating many parks, artificial islands and English Gardens. The artist however is also deconstructing these reconstructions in revealing their artificial and unhistoric character: She uses cheap materials, like cardboard and glue, pressboard and other things from the construction store. We can recognize their obvious bricolage nature and can reflect on our desire of wanting to return into a lost and never repeatable state of innocence and authenticity. A state that we experienced in a unique period of our lifetime, a state that we unfillably yearn to linger on or to come back once. The video Take me back to my boots and saddle emphasizes this yearning and mixes it up with another artwork, the famous „Winterreise“, a song cyle by the romantic composer Franz Schubert. She re-enacted these songs when literally cycling a route leading to the former border between West and East Germany, where she grew up, only accompanied by a tiny covered waggon, a bike and a blues harp.

What she reminds us of is that most of our unforgettable moments are already cultural products, like movies, series, songs and plays.

Ute Heim also reflects this in her enactment „High Noon“, which recalls the title of a very famous Western movie. She perfomed it first in the railway station in Munich and again this week in different places around Breda – you can watch it there on the screen. In its complexity it seems impossible to differ the fake from the original; so surprisingly we realize that on this theatrical waggon, a kind of requisit, the patterns of the fake wooden surface are the most real part – they are handdrawn by pencil.

So the whole exhibition gives the impression of there being different requisites on a kind of stage and we are the ones waiting for the play, or maybe we are the actual actors. The music is already playing, when we pass the tiny shanty (which means „small shelter“, „hut“ and also some kind of song).

In many of her performances and installations music is an important part as a strong reminder and trigger of emotions and memories. In the end all her works shift into a highly charged field, where we encounter an unexpected melancholy of lost, a desire that the present moment would linger on and a very special an unexplainable blend of strange perception, of high emotion, of overwhelming memory and of a deeply shuttered certainty.

Franz Schneider

Breda, NL, July 2016

(this text was read at the soloexhibition GENIUS/ Ute Heim, Stadsgalerij Breda, NL, July 2016)