Heribert Friedl

I am not here, ut you know it's me!

Since the dawn of modernity, we in the Western world have ascribed a dominant status and weight to visual perception over the other senses. Despite the fact that there has been meticulous experimentation with multi-sensory and synaesthetic experience in many artistic movements throughout the 20th century — such as in symbolism and futurism — this visual supremacy has become the ink with which our art history is written. Today, the non-visual experiencing of art continues to be marginalised in both the academic and institutional worlds. As a visitor to an exhibition, one is insistently profiled as a ‘viewer’, and visitors have also come to expect to see something in an exhibition space. Even the concert-goer defines him or herself as someone who is going to ‘see’ a concert. However, human perception remains the product of a cocktail of sensory signals that collectively lend meaning to the continuous flow of information coming from the world around us. We don’t only scrutinize the architecture of the spaces we enter by what we see; the smell of the place, the sound of our footsteps and the tactile contact we have with the floor also go towards creating a sketch of where we are. Thanks to the development of tools for the mechanical and digital reproduction of sound, our auditory sense is also enjoying a growing recognition and status. Our sense of smell, or olfactory perception, on the other hand, remains relatively undervalued and unloved in contemporary art. In I am not here, but you know it’s me!, these familiar patterns of expectation are radically eschewed. We are presented with a concentrated, minimalistic exhibition with a custom-made sound installation at its core. Artist Heribert Friedl has taken his inspiration from the atmosphere of the post-industrial exhibition space and from the simultaneous group exhibition ##Orkest!:Activity:1017##, in which the interplay between the different sound works stimulates a complex, non-visual experience. Working here as a solo artist, Friedl adds — from a solitary height — an additional note to the group exhibition which has the effect of unstopping all remaining pipes of the imagination.

Heribert Friedl (°1969) lives and works in Vienna, where he studied Sculpture at the University of Applied Arts. In his work, he focuses on the development of an artistic practice centred around the concept of ‘non-visual objects’. In 1998, he started out on a parallel path focusing on the creation of sound art. In addition to digital compositions, he has experimented with field recordings and carried out extensive research into the sonic possibilities offered by the cimablon (Hungarian dulcimer). He has worked alone and in collaboration with other sound artists, including John Norman (Radian) and Bernhard Günter (an esteemed figure in the minimal music movement). Friedl released countless mp3s and albums on respected underground labels such as trente oiseaux, and/OAR and Room 40, among others, before starting his own label, nonvisualobjects, together with Raphael Moser in 2005. In the past five years, his primary focus has shifted from his sound work to the in-depth development of his olfactory installations.

During the opening event, Heribert Friedl will be performing a sound performance in the rafters of Netwerk’s Pakhuis exhibition space that will be tailored to this unique context. His sound work generally has a minimal aesthetic, characterised by a pared-back sound palette and scarcely observable movements. In this purified form, distilled to its modest essence, the work at first seems very simple. However, these are extremely delicate creations, the elementary nature of each sound making it pregnant with weighty meaning. Every discrete sound in the composition bears with it the responsibility of the work as a whole.

I am not here, but you know it’s me! becomes activated by gently rubbing the work on the wall.