Ina Geißler – Mirroring Reflections

Frank van der Ploeg

Letters become words. Words become doubled, but also mirrored. Multiplicity strengthens contemplations called to mind. Ina Geißler’s paper works can be seen visually or verbally. Visually, they call your attention to form; textually they demand your concentration. This is not just because the letters are often in a modernistic font and therefore not easily read in a single glance, but in particular because they speak to the poetic insight of a literate viewer.

Art is by definition visual poetry. If the artist wanted to tell a story from beginning to end, he/she would have taken up literary prose. Many artists avoid the written word, though most still want to provide some direction through their titles. Ina Geißler (1970, Hamburg, Germany) is usually more allied with visuals than language, but in her paper art she combines the two. Without language, her coupage and cutting could be said to be ‘well-made art’. The literacy adds another level.

Pictured words

The multitude of layers is pertinent to all of Geißler’s work. Her egg tempera paintings, her photo collages – they are all ‘cut up’ images that suggest layering and conjoining. In her paper epigrams of 2015, POETIC INSTRUCTIONS, she has not cut the letters in a straightforward manner, but mirrored, doubled and alternated them. These works can be hung away from the wall and become legible from both sides. Reading them upside down is probably also possible with a few of them! How the works are lit also plays an important role and partially determines whether words or image come to the forefront.

Nine series have now been made that share the premise of poetic instructions – pithy incentives or directives. Whenever such a reflection is ready to be committed to lacquered paper, she makes a family of them, which Geißler calls portraits. The series is given a first name as title, along with a letter to distinguish the different versions. (Geißler has likely made a conscious choice to ‘number’ them with letters.)

The suggestions in imperative form are often no more than a short sentence, but imbued with mountains of meaning. What should one make of Irene: FLORISH ON YOUR THRESHOLDS? Could it be: step beyond your boundaries, develop yourself, turn your limits into your turning point? Another good one is Fidelio: BUILD BRIDGES OF GAPS (freely interpreted: allow that which stands between you and another be that which connects you). While these words of encouragement are subject to individual interpretations, the next ones seem to be addressed more to image-makers or the interpreters of images, thrust upon us by the media. Gaudazio: STELL DIE WAHRHEIT HINTER DEM BILD VOR is a call to seek the truth behind propaganda from its face value.

In conclusion, yet another – this one puts into words what Ina Geißler achieves with these artworks. Emil: BRING STAGE AND BACKSTAGE INTO HARMONY. It’s up to you. What is foreground and what is background? The image or the poetry? It’s impossible to say anymore. Ergo, the harmony is fact.