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Dialoguing With Bodo and My Brain

From my brain to your brain and back again is the movement of psychic
information that is implied in Bodo Korsig’s remarkable prints. Or perhaps one
might say that for Korsig there is a world of difference, a critical difference,
between what we know (or think we know, or hope we know) and what we experience
as truth through the brain. The artist’s subject in his large scale prints (some
are so large, so massive that the artist has used a steam roller to make his
gigantic woodcuts a reality) and in his imposing and yet nuanced large-sacle
portfolio-sized books and lamporettos might very well be the brain. Yet the
content of his work transcends the brain while keeping it, in a sense, in mind.
I remember (this is years ago, trust me) when I was a much younger man in
secondary school growing up in New York City’s upper east side that it became
popular to greet school chums and foes alike with the saying „How’s your mind?“.
To ask a foe this quetion in a casual way was met with bewilderment, to our
amusement. This sign of perplexity was taken as evidence of the incapacity of
one’s rival to possess such a thing as a mind. To ask „How’s your mind?“, then,
was to infer that your fellow high school nemesis was brainless and by
implication would never and could never get the joke. And by inference that the
joke was on him. By contrast to greet a friend with that same expression was met
as a salutation filled with bonhomie and a certain warmth. It meant that you
held your friend in your esteem, that he was a creditable fellow, that he was
in his right mind, knew how to use his mind rightly and had the intelligence
(meaning: the brains)and the virtue of wanting to use it a rightheous manner. At
the core of this spoken code was that mind = brain. If the owner of the brain
was in good form it most probably meant that the keeper of the mind that
sustained it and the physical body that contained IT was in good form as well.
So the mind/body envelope was very much kept in play, ideationally speaking, as
we ,as students, parried and thrusted using the (perhaps not so) rhetorical
dagger “ How’s your mind?.“

Bodo Korsig addresses the human brain as the ostensible subject of his work in
light of real-life collective concerns and our associations with such concerns
that circulate around brain function and brain disorders. Korsig knows that the
word „brain“ is so loaded that we are bound to make sensorial,somatic and
pschic references coalesce when we bring to mind this signifier. Also, he may
be justifiably referring in a poetic and science-fiction-y way to our human
anxieties about survival and perhaps uber-survival as a species. He may very
well be indicating through his giant printed canvases and paper prints (with all
of their delicacy and aggressiveness combined) how much human vulnerability
comes into play when a desire for immortality emerges in human culture as it
always does in one way or another when the brain and its condition and
conditioning is subject for conversation. Through his work Korsig seems to be
suggesting we look at our need to believe in logic and the scientific method as
the post-ideological gods that offers the perpetual promise towards salvation.
That promise, clothed as it is in the scientific cloak of infallibility,
nearly always has to do with being on the right track to having (finally,
finally!) found the right code for the correct treatment of whatever ails us at
the moment in order for us all to stay alive and well well into the hundreds of
years ( or similar claims of a perpetual future). Amen, brother. Long term
assertions of secular salvation via scientific claims of its authoritative
powers brings into account (and Korsig is complicit in bringing this up through
his work) implications revolving futuristic cyborg/cybernetic possibilities,
genomic manipulations, brain transplants , brain reproductions, and
brain-harvesting. While a discussion of this order is well and proper Bodo
Korsig’s essential cultural work and the one that he fullfills so admirably
through his printed material (and by implication his seemingly scientifically
rigorous yet entirely fantasmagorival or chimerical three dimensional iconic or
symbolic structures referencing the language of transmission, interference,
attachment, displacement, contagion which serve as sculptures either free
standing or placed on the wall) rests on the distinction which must be made
between the subject of Korsig’s work which is brain and the content of his work
referring to the brain which is :consciousness.
In addressing, de facto, the condition of consciousness and the mind/body
duality that cleaves human existence through his work Korsig immediately makes
himself the target of both admiration and ridicule. Admiration because he is
doing cultural heavy-lifting —in ideological terms or perhaps even
spiritually speaking — as an artist and so few artists have the nerve or the
courage to put themselves out there (Kiefer and Hirshhorn are two of Korsig’s
equals in this respect).Ridicule because to tackle such profound issues while
it is the mandate of any artist to assume the challenge of such questions so few
rise to such a task because of fear of being (or being accused of
being)ridiculous. Bodo Korsig, through his mastery of the printed word and
image, rises to the challenge because he is up to the challenge of dealing with
some of life’s greatest paradoxes and anxieties and he does so without flinching
and with grace and interiorized modesty. Korsig’s printed imagery is
astonishing because he connects through this medium in a way that only few and
great artists can. His control of surface values is virtuosic in its precision
and in its impact on the eyes and on the body. To see a Bodo print is to
experience it precisely with and through your body. And by extension through
the mind’s eye, so to speak, and through the heart as well. Korsig’s works
attend to what needs tending: they are tremulous responses to our sense of
fragility as human being.They bespeak of our capacity and our incapacity to
bridge the gap between
subjective and objective conditions. Korsig’s seemingly „textbook“ recreations
of biologic information, relating to synapses and ordering systems within the
body on metabolic, bacterial, and neuronal levels and the mordant and poignant
play of words is existential theatre and theatre of the macabre rolled into one.
Korsig’s „body“ of work has a recursive element to it: it always refers back
to itself, its own conditioning, its own subject matter. The brain work of
Kordo’s deals exactly with that essential elemental paradox : how do we know
what we know and how do we know what we don’t know? Bodo Korsig’s printed
edition works (prints and books), their clear semiotic and linguistic connection
with his larger billboard-scaled flat wall works as well as with his iconic and
emblematic sculptural objects make him a complete artist.
The artist’s evident mastery of different forms, formats and materials to invoke
rigorous thought on the subject of brain carries along with it an eloquent and
complex voice that has deepened with time. To come to the conclusion that Bodo
Korsig raises has very much raised the international aesthetic bar in terms of
intellection, emotional intelligence and formal rigor is ,frankly, a
no-brainer. His cultural achievements rank him as one of the most important
international artists of his generation.
-Dominique Nahas
Dublin, August 20,2007

Dominique Nahas is an independant curator and critic based in Manhattan.