Entering the first room of the basement floor at the Gallery Zink, my glance goes directly to the adjoining space where two figures are placed back-to-back on two chairs. I head straight for them. The puppets seem so strangely vivid that they irritate me. Their faces are veiled with white cloth. There is a mirror between the two bodies, providing a view of their backs. How ironic! I don’t have the slightest idea of the identities of the two figures anyway.

I give my imagination free rein

Strangely enough, I think of Muslim women, of people being led to the gallows, or, most fitting, of the members of the Ku Klux Klan, sinister figures of a racist secret society. The white cloth over their heads is their symbol. Everyone knows that. And there is a constant desire to find out who is hiding under them. That’s exactly what I feel here. I am tempted to lift the cloth from one of the figures, but something keeps me from doing so. The Silence Remains is an appropriate title for the work.

To my right, I discover another potential member of the Ku Klux Klan talking to a journalist in a black and white drawing on the wall. It inspires the same unease in me as the figures I have just seen. I am fascinated even more by the idea that something dangerous could be going on in this story.

A gallery of ancestral portraits of a ghost family 

Turning towards the other works on the walls, I notice that all the faces in this space are veiled, masked, blurred or erased. It looks as if I were in a gallery of ancestral portraits of a ghost family. However, not all of them arouse discomfort in me. Some of them just make me laugh, like the character with the tin box on his head; others fascinate me because the form of portrait appears from a distance only. What they all have in common are the limitless fantasies they inspire. Not least, I look more closely at the details that exist apart from the faces. It is unbelievable how much one can understand about the essence of a figure without seeing its face, because everything about it is iconic. Have we all become icons of something, or stereotypes? Does individuality still count? Whatever the producers of these works may have thought, NULLPORTRÄT convinces me once again of the imaginative power that an artist is able to unleash through his creative achievement. And the silence remains.

On view until August 18, 2011.

Works by: 

Rui Calçada Bastos, Anne Sofie Bird Møller, Thorsten Brinkmann, Gregory Forstner, Hippolyte Hentgen, Sabrina Jung, Yoshitomo Nara, Fumie Sasabuchi, Albrecht Schnider, Dennis Scholl, Noé Sendas, Hiroshi Sugito, Ante Timmermanns, Veron Urdarianu, Rinus Van de Velde, Santiago Ydáñez