P420, Bologna, A29
P420 presents a solo show by the German native but Italian naturalized artist Irma Blank (Celle, 1934). In particular the project, developed by P420 and the artist, is very specifically focused on the cycle of Eigenschriften (Self-writings, 1968–1973) that can be defined as the starting point of Blank’s mature work.
After leaving Germany and moving to Siracusa in Sicilia, in 1968, following many years of experimentation, she developed the idea of the Eigenschriften, signs inscribed on paper that record a manual tracing. The high-strung slender lines of these works remind us of a page of text, but it’s a page in an incomprehensible language. Blank’s practice is crossed by a profound dialectic between writing and drawing, the possibility of saying and the necessity of existing, and alludes to writing, while detaching it from any claim to meaning. It is a sort of writing prior to its encoding in language, an utterly self-referential sign. It makes no sense, but if anything it is pure “sense,” pure sensation transmitted from the hand to the surface, from the body to the work, like the tracing of a seismograph.
Eigenschriften belong to the practice of process drawing developed in the same period by artists of different geographical areas, like Roman Opalka (Cartes de Voyage), Hanne Darboven (Construction Drawings), Robert Morris (Blind Drawings) or the Venezuelan artist Gego.