SUSI POP has now been around for 21 years: Has the work changed over the last two decades?
Not really. A few ideas proved infeasible, and were then dropped. But basically, SUSI POP came to the world a finished product, as shown by the illustrations in the catalog. They don't follow a chronology, but rather mix the different work groups from various times, and low and behold: it all fits together. Several motifs or issues surface over and over in new ways. What emerges is a rhythm or a melody without a start or an end, a bit like elevator music.
But at the start was the cube, both in terms of the history of SUSI POP's exhibitions as well as the catalog.
If there's a constitutive element beside the color magenta and the name SUSI POP as a further trademark or logo, it's got to be the cube. Unlike the sphere, for example, the cube doesn't exist in nature, and is the result of a pure act of thought and universal in its application as a constructed object, stretching from the mud brick to the apartment block, from the ivory box to the container. At the same time, a closed box always has a sense of thrill or promise about it, as any child would know, from Christmas or a birthday.
SUSI POP as a kind of "Jack in the Box"?!
No, not a Jack in the Box, because there won't be any surprises. The box is empty, that's why anything can fit into it.
Indeed, there's a great variety of subjects and issues here. How does SUSI POP avoid becoming arbitrary?
Basically, SUSI POP has three production lines: the "cover versions", the magenta colored remakes of important art works from distant and recent art history that in so doing, usually for reason that has to do with current affairs at the time, undergo a reevaluation or are subjected to debate. So it's all about revision. Under the rubric People and Politics, we find artistic comments on history: the initial material, as a rule, consists of (frequently seen) images from the media that have been transformed into artworks by SUSI POP's treatment of them. A certain political or sociological interest is evident here. But the artworks refuse to take an opinion or engage in propaganda. ItÕs left up to the beholder to develop a position (or not). The third production line consists of portraits, produced as commissioned works: men, women, children, dogs, couples, entire families: anything is possible. SUSI POP is very flexible when it comes to the desires of her clients.
In the cover versions, the cycle Der Schnurrbart der Ulrike Meinhof [Ulrike Meinhof's Moustache] plays a special role.
Let's say that it is the most spectacular work in this area. When Gerhard Richter sold his RAF cycle to New York's MOMA, SUSI POP decided it was now time to create her own version. 20 years after the death of Baader, Ensslin, and Raspe, and just 10 years after Richter painted the dark series, a revision seemed in order, a revision of the historical events around RAF and of Richter's access to the issue. The reception of the Richter cycle was quite kitschy. SUSI POP responded to this with Schnurrbart der Ulrike Meinhof. This fifteen part magenta cycle is now - an irony of history - part of the collection at Berlin's Nationalgalerie / Hamburger Bahnhof. Other cover versions have also been successful. Lucian Freud provided two wonderful models: his Queen and his early portrait of the young Francis Bacon are also amazing in the SUSI POP version, and soon found collectors interested in them.
The large format picture of George Bush from the People and Politics series had an impact that was similarly strong to that of the RAF cycle. In general, 9/11 and the consequences seem to have been an important issue.
George W. Bush hearing the news of the attack: now, if thatÕs not a historic photograph that demands treatment. SUSI POP created a monumental image out of it. The bringer of the horrible news and the president. The reactions to this work were quite fierce. It is interesting that even well-versed art critics are often not able to distinguish between the represented and the representation. The ruins of the World Trade Center on the text day also provided an impressive image. The remains of the gothic like faade are reminiscent of Caspar David Friedrich. Powells Beweise [Powell's Evidence] is a series of paintings that are based on the satellite photographs that Powell presented at the United Nations as evidence for the production of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to justify the invasion. A drama in many ways, a great series.
A whole series of pictures show motifs and data from the world of finance and business.
Yes, the Charts series stretches back to the 1980s. Already back then, SUSI POP recognized the beauty of market index graphs, long before speculating had become a popular pastime. But there are interesting things to report about the audience reactions at the Frankfurt art fair. The old 1968ers stood before the hand-painted diagrams and praised their anti-capitalist impetus, while bankers were charmed that their everyday life had finally been discovered as a subject for art. It's all a question of the standpoint taken.
The commissioned portraits revive a bourgeois tradition in a quite non-ironic way. We all place importance on ourselves and our loved ones, and like to reassure ourselves about ourselves. And the mixture of photography, silkscreen, and painting gives the whole thing a contemporary form.
With the portraits SUSI POP reaches an audience with a very direct access to art. To hang a huge picture of George W. on the wall, or a picture of the dead terrorists of RAF, that requires quite a bit of sophistication or hard-edgedness. The magenta portrait of the daughters also works without thinking about cubes and concepts.
And what about the statement: SUSI POP bin ich, "I am SUSI POP". It's written on some of the portraits, and serves as a title for the book.
Here, an ironic distance to the self is called for. Otherwise it's not about parody or drag. "Madame Bovary c'est moi," Flaubert said about the relationship of an author to the characters he or she creates. That's just how to read this line of text in SUSI POP - but the other way around. Bovary saying, "I am Flaubert," and appropriating authorship. That's pure SUSI POP.