Postmasters Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of 2001 – an exhibition of new works by Wolfgang Staehle. The show will open on September 6 and will be on view until October 6, 2001. The reception is scheduled for Thursday, September 6, between 6 and 8 pm. For Wolfgang Staehle, widely recognized as a pioneer of the internet art scene, this will be the first solo exhibition in New York in ten years. Staehle was born in Stuttgart in 1950, grew up in Schwaebisch Hall, and has been living in New York since 1976, where he worked as a video artist. In 1991 he founded THE THING, an independent media project which began as a bulletin board system (BBS) and became one of the seminal online- and offline- forums for net.art. Staehle most recent work explores the dynamics, sensations and implications of connectivity. The exhibition at Postmasters will focus on large-scale, real time video projections from locations around the world. Effectively transcending technology into a somewhat Warholian update of the landscape genre, the first of these pieces presented a live image of the Empire State Building in New York. "Empire 24/7" was included in the "net_condition" show at ZKM Center in Karlsruhe in 2000 and in "loans from the invisible museum" at Yerba Buena Arts Center in San Francisco in 2001. Staehle's exhibition at Postmasters will consist of three new web-transmissions: the instantly recognizable television tower in Berlin, the medieval Comburg monastery, and a spectacular panoramic view of lower Manhattan. The projections — a visceral experience in synchronicity - where the net is utilized as data pipeline, offer an instantaneous compression of time and space. Non-relative terms like "here" and "now" attain a new meaning where the literal and the metaphorical converge. In today's ever-present, frenetic networking of the the globe as a way of experiencing anything anywhere anytime, Staehle offers the antidote of a reflective slowdown of beautiful images, close and far away, static and changing at the same time.
At a time when the farthermost corner of the globe has been conquered by technology and opened to economic exploitation; when any incident whatever, regardless of where or when it occurs, can be communicated to the rest of the world at any desired speed... when time has ceased to be anything other than velocity, instantaneousness, and simultaneity, and time as history has vanished from the lives of all peoples; when a boxer is regarded as a nation's great man; when mass meetings attended by millions are looked on as a triumph – then, yes then, through all this turmoil, a question still haunts us like a specter: What for? - Whither? - And what then?
— Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, 1935
Before, During and After
It will take a long time to process what happened. Some art may now be seen as banal and self-indulgent while some other works, for better or worse, may have gained poignancy and relevance. Art will continue to be made. Always. As you may know Postmasters Gallery opened an exhibition of Wolfgang Staehle on September 6, which included a monumental panoramic live projection of Lower Manhattan transmitted to the gallery 24/7 via internet every four seconds. Until last Monday one could see a beautiful scene of the iconic New York skyline, with boats and blimps and incredible sunsets as the day progressed. Tuesday morning it looked like our world ended as the projection captured all stages of the catastrophe. Now, the smoke has settled and it's back to the transformed skyline with a disorienting gap where the towers stood before. As difficult as it is for me and the gallery audiences to see this image, the key intent of the work was (and remains) to continuously stream in an unedited and unaltered reality; updating the idea of landscape using the tools of our time. The ever important context in which art is made and shown changed irreversibly on September 11. To my knowledge Wolfgang's piece is the only artwork for which not only the context but the content was affected directly by the attack on the WTC. Art will continue to be made.
Magdalena Sawon, Postmasters Gallery New York, September 20, 2001