Robert Kinder

Double monologue
Michael Milburn Gallery, Brisbane

Robert Kinder's works struck me as interestingly enigmatic. His use of newspaper clippings, all of which involved varying degrees of violence, correlates with his formal commentary upon the limits of ordered composition.

All of which might correspond with what Baudrillard refers to as the "ecstasy" of communication which, in its most obscene form, is capable of subsuming extreme violence into the flaccid or elastic boundaries of what we like to call "morality". But there remained in my mind a certain perplexity as to the manipulation of formal qualities, for example the way in which highly rational visual elements such as technical drawing apparatus or typographical elements were metamorphosed into expressive drawings. Such contradictions drove me to the catalogue essay, by Urszula Szulakowska, in order to better understand the exhibition.

Initially I found it interesting that the catalogue was subtitled "Aiterity and the Space of Representation: Empiricism/Philosophical Justification in the Work of Robert Kinder". This seemed to suggest that the works were not intended to stand alone but, rather, must involve some form of support from contemporary theory. Yet when I tried to apply Szulakowska's essay to an interpretation of Kinder's work any meaning or justification seemed to retreat even further.

The essay begins by stating that in 1984 Kinder's work was involved in "the operation of space depicted as a semi-'open' organization Robert Kinder. T h e execut l of the monochrone, shifting forms". This is certainly evident in Kinder's current work, as too is his investigation of "the limits which are placed around fluid situations". And the latest theoretical basis, Szulakowska informs us, is derived from the writing of Jaoques Derrida, "among others".

Kinder, according to Szulakowska, is investigating the space of "finitude", that is "the limits which are placed around fluid situations, violating their pragmatic intentionality and directed immediate concerns..." These limits are apparently created in one of two ways.

The first is by naming them, because any naming immediately imposes "finitude". The second method involves the notion of the "Same"; that dreaded space of static, logocentric presence in which the violence of closure is prevalent. All of which produces a desire to return to the "Other": a fluid state of pre-linguistic "Aiterity".

Unfortunately, I found the relationship of this theory to Kinder's work rather ill-defined. What remained was a rather vague and convoluted description of Derrida's theory. The sections which do relate to Kinder's work are interesting, although inconclusive. But the bulk of the essay is concerned with making rather enigmatic references to theory such as "the problem ultimately concerns the relation of the visual stage of representation and its translations out of, or into, the external written text". However, the problem thus set up is neither resolved nor connected to Kinder's work.

And later the essay alludes to Kinder's latest works as indicating "the relation of State to what Derrida calls pre-ethical violence". This is not "that Imaginary beyond the peripheries of the finitude..." Exactly what it is is never disclosed in the essay.

A very relevant section in the concluding paragraph reads: "Robert Kinder rightly continues to use the 'rationalised' forms of machinery and technical drawing as personal vocabulary. If there is no escape from the double bind of all conceptualisation since it is expressed in language which by its nature as organized limit, is itself violence, then there is nothing to accept or reject in reason and structure." This enigmatic statement lucidly communicates the problem that Kinder has endeavoured to comprehend through his latest work: a situation of impasse.

Szulakowska's essay seems to reflect or repeat this impasse in the sense that it refuses to allow us any coherent entry into the "meaning" of the works. But that becomes the very point of the work. Unless, of course, the essay sets out to deliberately problematise our "appreciation" of the work, in which ยท case it could be taken as an essentially ironical commentary. The double monologue then becomes a duplicitous monologue

Robert Kinder, The execut, 1987