import export.

Katrin Ströbel roves around between writing and image

The drawings by Katrin Ströbel (bom in 1975) are anti-drawings. They are linear progressions, abstractions that copy, combine and thereby reformulate things already existent. One can search long and hard far the atmospheric in her graffiti documentation, overlapping fragments of ornament, and commercial graphics translated into hand-drawings. Ströbel's interest is focused on the links between writing and image, a subject that she initially pursued on a theoretical level, although it has determined her artistic approach increasingly since 2005.

A purely theoretical study of the complex image/language clearly did not prove exhaustive, as the artist began to comment on her own academic work by means of drawings. Perhaps it is a sign of the intellectual quality of drawing as a medium by which to assimilate and reflect upon reality that the written work eventually stalled and this art work took over and started to grow.

Many periods spent abroad in France, and in different countries in Africa and South America promoted the artist's interest in the transition between writing and drawing and in visuaI cultures with different attributes. In 2008, while in Paris, she developed the idea for the project import export, a large-scale mural work made from the extremely thin, brightIy-coIoured pIastic bags so common in France. The subject of this work is the blending of cultures, their delineation and transformations, in a classic country of immigration. She makes these bags - which can become playthings of the wind quite unintentionally - into image carriers for a wide spectrum of codes. Lettering on the packaging of exotic goods, mottos in Cyrillic lettering, poster advertising or even the cover of an Asterix comic translated into Arabic reflect a cosmos like the one the artist perceived during her six-month stay in the French capital.

She translated fleeting impressions that she had documented with photographs into real drawings on a potentially 'fleeting' image carrier. Imported goods stand tor imported attitudes to life, which come up against exported experiences of the foreign, the alien. One example of what is meant is the artist's reading matter, which she integrates into the brightly-coloured diversity by means of book covers - like Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness or Die deutsche Kolonialgeschichte (German Colonial History) by Winfried Speitkamp.

Following this approach, drawing thus functions as a means of translation into a different context, which in turn emphasises the everyday nature of the mixture of signs and images. Ströbel, who studied German philology, free art and intermedia design in Stuttgart, did not choose the unusual picture carriers from a desire for superficial innovation, but because - in a double sense - they lend a new dimension to the drawings.

The firm line with which the artist draws the contours of things, people and animals, and appropriates such a range of lettering, is very striking. Even her homepage is drawn. But not only works on paper can be found in her portfolio. There are also photographic works, videos and mixed techniques of all kinds. In the majority of works, a key theme is writing, lettering, but they are also about Images which are generated via descriptions, about images that awaken associations. Her storehouse is the presentday world as she experiences it. Thus, for example, she altered the writing on a house wall, “LE PEN", with just one curved line to make it into “LEBEN" - life.

Carmela Thiele

Text published in: Je mehr ich zeichne, Zeichnung als Weltentwurf, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen 2010