Ursula Hentschläger (2008)
Herwig Turk : INVERSUM. The Salt of the Earth.
In a space-occupying video installation, Herwig Turk shows INVERSUM (2008), a work with a visual focus on states of approach and distance in the desolate environment of a salt desert. In the exhibition space, the viewers also get a haptic feel for the desert as several tons of salt turn the concrete floor into desert ground. Visitors plod across glaringly white, soft salt before they reach the projection screens. This way, attention is focused in an interesting way, and an emotional boundary emerges between the outlined desert area and the surrounding exhibition spaces. The viewers approach but experiences that approaching does not necessarily lead to closeness - a fact that is also reflected in the figure in one of the two videos played.
The figure seems to appear out of nowhere on the horizon in the projection on the left. Its presence in the solitude of hostile nature is commented by the off-screen voice of a second figure but is not explained any further. Obviously, we are faced with an attempt to capture what cannot be captured, yet the precision of the greater picture is juxtaposed with the blurry outlines of potential closeness - much like a mirage. The closer the gaze gets, the more unreal is the desired state. At the same time, the silence of the landscape can be felt. The focus in the projection on the right is an antithesis as the projection leads out of the desert. On the way, the blurred picture becomes more focused again and nature remains by itself. Apparently, the process cannot be fast enough – it seems like the figures, invisible already, want to escape on a speedboat, and yet there is a moment of silence: the move out of the desert is reversed and the gaze is directed back to the horizon. The surround sound becomes dominant, ultrasound heartbeat being an acoustic representation of the essence of being human. This way, it is clear that the two figures are present in the second video.
In its seeming infinity, the desert leaves us with impressions of emptiness and abundance at the same time. Isolation in foreign lands, speechlessness in relationships and the unfathomable quality of the moment are only some of the associations arising as we look on. Overlaps, quick motion and countershots, which Turk uses as formal devices, open up the view and take the weightiness of the issues addressed, big though they may be. In INVERSUM, Herwig Turk has indeed succeeded in creating a poetic work about spatial and human nature.