Suse Stoisser


Stefanie Viereck


A black figure, like a vintage silhouette portrait, springs lightly across a printed, perforated tarpaulin swinging freely in space. In the lower section, transparent fabric allows a glimpse of other silhouettes – those of gallery visitors. The shadowy visitors, the shadowy black floating figure, both are equally real and unreal.

Suse Stoisser often uses transparent materials to create indeterminate space where the usual laws no longer apply. This creates a kind of game where hidden and multilayered realities co-exist. All of a sudden, different forms of being seem tangible. We wonder where we find ourselves – and how we find our footing. What appears light and colorful at first glance, ROSA CLOUD, reveals terrifying abyss upon closer inspection. But it is not without irony: On pink clouds – what a simple fallacy.

Stoisser invites the onlooker to break away from the familiar, to abandon certainties, to change perspectives. What is the visual vantage point? And who exactly is looking? Our points of view are shaken. The boundaries between dreams and reality become blurred.

HOT LAVA is candy pink; the little girl crossing it, a shadow without a face. The title invokes pain. The shadow child, however, plays her guileless game not on scorching magma streams, but on colorful lichen. A child standing in front of the piece imitates the posture of the shadow figure. A visitor passes by, a father explains, a woman takes pictures – each change positions and become part of the game.

Stoisser’s art is full of quotes and allusions. Nothing is without meaning, casual, tossed off, though it can appear light-hearted. The red torso in the triptych UNBEQUEMER AUS/BLICK (Uneasy Out/Look) introduces the Jesus figure from Grünewald’s altar; the gaping crevices in the wall resemble a cross. In a second picture, a window opens out into the sky, where clouds, a figure, a cross all float free. In a third image, Rodin’s thinker has been stenciled onto a surface of logarithms, prompting us to wonder about where the soul exists in our era of age of logarithms. By simply raising such questions, uncertainties are revealed.

Such mind games take place on the meta level – as if they were seen from above. The multi-valent figures on the chessboard – SCHACH MATT / Checkmate – are assembled via photographed eucalyptus leaves, modeled on ergometric positions. By trimming and/or lengthening the leafy limbs, ghostly artistic figures of indeterminate identity are created — reminding viewers of praying mantises. We wonder if there is interaction among these figures – of whether they’re simply connected by the pattern of the leaves. And haven’t some of them become independent, separate from their texture? In this piece, Stoisser asks: Are we losing our roots?

Ultimately, the viewer must opt to recognize the polyphony of these works, to accept the challenge, and rethink perception. In other words, the viewer must sweep aside certainties and engage in a kind of mental game. They must play along with Stoisser, otherwise there is no way in.

Covid19 has changed communication. Contours have blurred. The boundary between the analog and digital worlds seems hard to determine. In our superimposed isolation, interpersonal encounters now take place in the web. Growing things push themselves into the foreground. And here Stoisser engages in dialogue with nature.

Wet shiny mud, pecking birds, bare feet tell us we’re at the seaside – a seaside peopled by indistinct black shadows, shadows of children again, and white shapes of light. Here Stoisser makes an allusion to Brueghel’s colorful flocks in the painting “Children’s Games,” but her children are almost colorless, shadowy, solitary and faceless.

And yet something soothing emanates from these images — a strange silence, an idyllic, unblemished, even unworldly place. It’s both real and unreal, just as the work is constructed both from real materials and also from the imagination.

Stoisser’s photographs are printed on glass, stencils made of paper, layered between discs in three different cell phone formats. They are cell phones that do not speak nor ring. By remaining silent, they create a wordless dialogue with nature through visual language. They are a form of non-verbal communication that sheds its layers one by one: challenging us to question our digital devices as well as familiar images and ways of seeing.

A group of five related works is grouped under the title AUSBLICK.EINBLICKE (Outlook.Insights). Twelve imaginary cell phone screens each offer an image, seemingly trapped behind a bullet-ridden concrete wall, a peek into distant spheres. As if from another world, the eye perceives a colorful fantasia beyond the pockmarked wall.

Pink clouds float by with an odd serenity. In the first piece, the miniatures on the computer and the photographed concrete wall are printed on a stainless steel plate, which lends a particular gleam to the bizarre scenery. Light shines from the side, as if from a window to the left. Four related works on paper also are characterized by varying angles of light. They suggest the changing light of day, or perhaps doors or windows suddenly flung open. Something is happening in the room, but we cannot fully understand it.

On the imaginary screens, we see vistas such as blue-colored meadow foliage; altered, smoky, gray-porous lichen; green forests speeding by a train window; eucalyptus, shaded blue-black to the point of invisibility. Is this some kind of unattainable distant nature, which may or may not exist? Or are we looking at digital fictions? Perhaps they’re memories of what has been, what has been destroyed, what has been lost. Because, behind the beauty of the images, the color and form, something deeply unsettling is hiding.

In none of Suse Stoisser’s works is there a human expression, a face, eyes, a recognizable personality. At best, postures and gestures suggest traits and behaviors, gentleness or anger, indolent activity or active play.

This is also true for MEN ON PINK. Four times pink clouds: four athletes, tennis, American football. Three black and one white stencil. Outlines. Empty shapes. Does the individual lose meaning and identity in the digital world?  Are we reduced to mechanical functions in the process? Need-based? Synchronized? Emptied of spiritual sense?

The human disappears, the template remains. This is the assertion that Suse Stoisser is evoking with these works – only to doubt herself again in the end. HELIX/ AMOR PROPELLS, made of polished aluminum on the right above the four MEN ON PINK sets the stenciled structure in motion. And hidden in each of the three propeller blades, barely recognizable except for two legs, is Cupido, the Roman god, also called Cupid, the personification of love – still the driving force of an apparently depersonalized humanity.