A Disturbing Consistency
Catarina Pombo Nabais about the artistic residency and the exhibition in the SAP Lab
"The actual goal of experimenting is to somehow make the examined phenomena speak" (Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, "Experiment, Research,Art")
"Philosophy brings forth events with its concepts. Art builds monuments with its sensations. Science constructs states of affairs with its functions" (Gille Deleuze, What is Philosophy?)
The work of Katrin von Lehmann is of a disturbing consistency. On the one hand, it goes along an aesthetic line that inevitably leads us to a style and signature; on the other, it is crossed by innumerable doubts and challenges that make us be aware of the other worlds with whom Katrin von Lehmann interact and collaborate. Recognizing her own work as irreducibly solitary and personal, Katrin von Lehmann, however, is contamined by others. Especially by these "others" who are Science and Philisophy. Both her stay at the Institute of Molecular Genetics at the Max-Planck-Institute in Berlin, as well as her residency at the Science-Art-Philosophy Laboratory (SAP-Lab) of the Center for Philosophy of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (the results of which are now apparent in this exhibition*) are a symptom of her desire to observe, to be close, both to those who practise Science and to those who seek to think it out.
As an artist, Katrin von Lehmann creates her own rules. And she creates them with a detail and rigor that evokes the meticulous protocols of a laboratory: for example, drawing with both hands simultaneously or using all of the pencils in the sequence as they stand in the various pencil cases. There is a whole ritualistic performance involving her artwork as if it were a pure, ideal, almost sacralized work. Further, in the construction of her rules, Katrin von Lehmann is able to fuse Science and Art, since, on the one hand, she intends to establish a regime of open rationality, to reduce unpredictability, and, on the other hand, she seeks to create the conditions for the hew to happen.
Also, through her passion of observation, Katrin von Lehmann approaches Science. This is what leads her to a persistent and systematic search for patterns in oversized date collections. It is in drawing that Katrin von Lehmann recreates the complex combinatorics of the visible and of the non-visible that constitute the perspective, the view of the world, and above all the matter of the world. Drawing is thus for Katrin von Lehmann a way of learning to see as well as a way of understanding complexity. At the same time, it is through drawing that Katrin von Lehmann has the possibility to express and translate this complexity.
But, in parallel with her permanent search for trying to unerstand the proper procedures of scientific work, how the experimental method unfolds, how the scientific observation works, how the conditions necessary for the repetition of experience are created, what are the favorable circumstances for the emergence of the hypothesis, etc., there is likewise in Katrin von Lehmann a genuine desire to approach philosophical texts. As an artist, Katrin von Lehmannseeks to listen to the words of Philosophy, to decipher their meaning, to understand the problems that run through them. Her more or less unconfessed goal is to combine the experience of proximity to Philosophy with the observation of Science and its pratices, in order to recreate the effects of this fusion, afterwords, through drawing. For this reason, in limit, drawing is for Katrin von Lehmann a laboratory for artistic experimentation, with the echo of Philosophy and the close attention to the scientific method in the background.
Undoubtebly, Katrin von Lehmann's work are an example of the good possible interactions between artists and scientists, between the spaces of research-creation which are the studio and the laborartory, briefly, between Art and Science.
Catarina Pombo Nabais
Coordinator of the SAP Lab of the Center for Philosophy of Sciences of the University Lisbon
PhD Researcher hired under DL57
FCUL, Department of History and Philosophy of Sciences
* The exhibition is the end result of an artistic residency of Katrin von Lehmann at the SAP Lab, which included a series of conversations between the artist and a small group of researchers from Science and Philosophy. The group met at FCUL, once a week in a total of 5 sessions, around a fundamental theme: the creative processes and the experimentation practices in Science. The participants in the conversations were the professors: Ana Paula Claudio, Beatriz Carmo, Belarmino Barata; José Félix Costa, José Croca, Luís Graca; and the researchers: Joao Cordovil, Paulo Castro and Sara Fuentes. To all I express my thanks.