Isabel Reichert Characteristics


German-born conceptual artist Isabel Reichert explores the commodification of art and the value of the artist's practice. Inherent in her work is the search for an explanation of art and the relationship between representation and perception. Materials used in her performances and installations are tears, sweat and saliva. Computer or video technology is often utilized as a tool to convey ideas and make 'the invisible' accessible to the viewer.

Isabel is rooted in the tradition of 1960s conceptualism, arte povera and minimal art, but her concepts and working method push the envelop of historical precedents and therefore create an authentic visual language. In "Licking the wall" for example (first shown at JennJoy Gallery in San Francisco in 1999) she places a saliva drawing onto the exhibition wall with her tongue. A video-camera bears witness to the performance and the resulting video-installation reveals the process and location of the mural. Since the saliva is incorporated with the gallery wall, it lasts until the wall is destroyed or the knowledge of it has vanished. The nature of the piece is indestructible.

The way Reichert conceptualizes the action of the artist, enables her to elevate the profane to the status of art. She is asking us to see the invisible or to assemble the piece in our imagination. In "Sweat-drawings" she pressed her body against indicator paper after intense exercise wondering if it would be possible to preserve an action in a drawing. What remains is an imprint of her upper body whose outline is determined by the amount of exercise and thus the amount of sweat produced.

Isabel Reichert often collaborates with her husband Sean Fletcher. Recent Fletcher/Reichert collaborations include Bait, (2000 at fake-I-d.com), an online performance piece that turned eBay shoppers into the artists' latest audience collaborators. In this work, the couple offered to the highest bidder the right to choose the name of their soon-to-be-born child, raising questions about the moral culpability of the artist as provocateur, corporate "sponsorship", copyright issues, and the consumer as responsible citizen.

In Therapy (1998), Reichert and Fletcher met with a couples therapist before an audience at San Francisco's Southern Exposure gallery to discuss the 'damaged' relationship between artist and audience (which is further hampered by commercialism). After exploring grievances from both artists and the audience, the therapist conducted 'blind trust' exercises, with Reichert confidently falling backwards into the arms of the audience.

Their most recent exploits include a seminar-like presentation to a capacity crowd at New Langton Arts in San Francisco where, after delivering an essay on the history of the self-help movement, the two presented a guest lecturer, the president of the Dale Carnegie School of Sales and Management. Her topic: Selling Yourself and Not Your Art In addition Isabel and Sean started a company called "Death and Taxes" with a comprehensive board of art professionals whose chief responsibility will be the preservation of their lives, and subsequently the survival of their intangible life-art projects. Visit www.mydeathandtaxes.com for more information.

Her films with Kerry Laitala have received awards from the Chicago Underground Film Festival and the MadCat Women's International Film Festival, and her work has been reviewed in the San Francisco Chronical and the German online magazine Der Spiegel, Artweek, Societe and Stretcher.org. Exhibitions include New Langton Arts (2003), Bay Area Now 2, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2000); Hover, Walter/McBean Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute (1999); and Reaction, The Lab, San Francisco (1999). She has been a visiting faculty member at Mills College and the San Francisco Art Institute and holds an MFA in New Genres from San Francisco Art Institute 1997.
--I.R.




Isabel Reichert