JUDITH SAUPPER

The Reader, the Conspiracy Theorist and the Bomb Maker

Thomas Schiretz 2012

When I woke up, I was still a bit dazed. I asked myself if what I remembered had really happened. At first I didn’t recognize where I was, and where the strange humming noise I could hear was coming from. I had some sort of purpose, but I didn’t clearly recall it anymore. I wanted to ask someone what had happened. I lay stretched out on the floor, on carpeting that smelled sort of sour and musty. My eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness and I realized: I must have tripped over something. I had tripped, fallen down, and while falling had grabbed the arm of an office chair that had, unimpressed by my wretched situation, turned away from me and let me tumble into emptiness. I must have hit my head on something sharp and lost consciousness for a few seconds. With flat hands, I carefully felt my way around the uncomfortable place I was lying on, trying to avoid meeting with some other disagreeable object. Slowly, it dawned on me why I was here… It was Udo most of all who pushed me to it, “You absolutely have to go see it, it’s simply unbelievable! Judith Saupper,” he said, “I don’t know anybody else who works so obsessively, is so perfectionistic. She makes miniature interiors in meticulous detail, each object so tiny that it can almost no longer be represented, and it becomes only a question of time before it disappears.” It’s easy for him to speak of the big within the little, of the internal world of the external world of the internal world. I thought of the line in a forgotten Beatles song, “Your inside is out and your outside is in” (from “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey” on The White Album). “Come on,” he said, “I can’t really describe it for you.” And cited Rodin, “More beautiful than a beautiful thing is the ruin of a beautiful thing!” I let myself be convinced. Actually, he had successfully sparked my curiosity and now it was driving me ahead like an animal chased by hunters. I memorized the arrangements with exactitude, asking for a magnifying glass in order to memorize the places and the objects with precision. I was convinced that I could now find the tables, the sofa, the bookshelves, the time fuse, and the soldering iron even in the dark. And now I was here, stumbling and feeling my way around, my orientation lost. The second I saw one of the Saupper houses for the first time, I knew it. An inexplicably dusky morphology with a single purpose: to irresistibly draw the observer into its spell. It emanated an almost paranoid power of attraction. Protection and engulfment at once. Even though everything about it was as dead as it could possibly be. I had never seen a more sinister effigy of a house before, except for Edward Hopper’s House by the Railroad, or the Bates Motel in Hitchcock’s movie Psycho. I should have turned and fled, but instead I was drawn closer and closer to the dwelling, sensing ever stronger how its invisible tentacles enveloped my body, pulling me closer and making me part of its substance. Do you know that oppressive feeling you get when you enter a strange building without permission, or go into a room that is off limits to you? Even when there’s nobody in the room, just the smell of that absent presence causes a cold shudder. And yet Saupper omits anything that goes beyond just the room itself: there are no people in her sculptures, not really any indications of location; footprints, yes, hints of countless books, of an insurmountable mass of papers with detailed constructions of conspiracy theories and a set of perfidious instruments for crafting a bomb. Hints and traces point to the absent occupants and actors within these rooms. Their objects transform our reality into abstract, oppressive scenarios and we supplement the meaning of Saupper’s rooms with information from our collective memory. It was too late. They will discover me; they had been able to read my tracks. They will come and get me. I don’t know what is waiting for me. They, the reader, the conspiracy theorist and the bomb maker. I just have to wait a little more. I had only tried to understand. But one can only truly understand once there is nothing more to understand. I thought, I will tell Udo; I have to tell him, leave him a hidden note somewhere so he doesn’t make the same mistake I did. But if they read it, they would maybe only draw yet another shady theory from it, or decipher the secret message hidden behind my story. Whether I write it down or not doesn’t make a difference, they would always look for a different meaning. I hear steps; they’re in front of the door now. A murmur, a whisper, and then all I hear is, “Last one out turns off the light!“