Isabella Kohlhuber (Swiss，b.1968)
畢業於維也納應用藝術大學跨媒體藝術系，以維也納與漢堡為創作據點，目前亦任教於維也納藝術大學。師事奧地利藝術家Adolf Frohner與捷克當代攝影藝術家Jiři David。自2006起積極參與維也納的展覽，2018在維也納White Cube Yellow舉辦個展，於維也納當代藝術館、維也納博物館區等多種藝術機構展出。獲奧地利超級聯賽100周年藝術競賽Art Challenge首獎。Kohlhuber以文字為題，透過繪畫、裝置、雕塑、動畫等不同形式的創作，主張藝術作品為傳遞訊息的載體，探討在溝通過程中，圖像或文字如何傳達意義，又是如何被詮釋和解讀。作品獲奧地利知名藏家 Martin Lenikus收藏機構Sammlung Lenikus收藏。
Isabella Kohlhuber 的創作核心，相當特別的是，她思考了當代藝術形式的深層意義，許多在當代藝術中被認為是常用的手法，如：複製(Reproduction)、擬象(Simulation)、挪用(Appropriation)等手段，都被她一再挑出來檢視及質問。藝術作品傳遞了訊息，而知識則是讓觀眾如何去「理解影像」，她想要探求的是這樣「理解的過程」其中的脈絡。因此，擅長使用各種媒材創作的她，也創造了一種字母，稱為Bastards (混合許多字母的原型)，讓這些文字在被閱讀時，需要自行「解碼」，發展出新的意義。而文本的選擇，也反映出Kohlhuber所關心的、批判的及認同的想法。
思考意義在藝術的創作歷史中並非少見，1968年時，由Seth Siegelaub策畫，被認為是第一個觀念藝術的展覽，展示列印出來的文本材料，因為文字的意義已經表達了觀念，並且做為一種藝術形式。當1960年代西方進入高度發展社會的階段，大眾傳播與廣告業的蓬勃，尤其媒體即訊息 (The medium is the message) 的環境，對觀念藝術的產生有著重要作用，如何解讀訊息也同樣是現代人所面臨的課題之一。法國哲學家布希亞也曾提到，這是一個影像比真實更真 實的紀元；也是在後現代主義的概念中，大概也沒有什麼新東西可以獨創，所以過去的一切及其副本皆可以重新使用，並且視為同等。發展至今，在龐大的訊息洪流下，卻往往暗藏著對真實的追求，促使藝術理論走向觀念性的表達，而意義的製造、傳達及真實性備受重視。
2018 在 Bluerider ART 的亞洲首個展’Untitled’，分別呈現了Isabella Kohlhuber在不同媒材上展現獨特的敘事邏輯。作品From the Law，文本取材過去奧地利的聲音載體法律授權聲明，並使用Bastards字母金屬薄片列印出來，實則也在批判藝術中「挪用」的手法，在知識產權的原創概念下如何界定的問題。作品B+0066–B+0090，則是使用Bastards字母的筆畫形成一個動畫，使用視覺動態、變換造型的方式，不斷延展字母的順序及輪廓，漸進緩慢如同手工動畫的質感，觀眾在閱讀時便解讀意義，語言就被表現成一種開放的發展過程。作品 Untitled (Lines)，則是另一件帶有溫度及活力的創作，藝術家使用墨水及身體運動，以規律的震盪公式，完成了一種綿延不絕的視覺動態，象徵了每日生活的機械性，像時間的洪流、快速移動的高速風景，從點至線，當線條成為一種語言，視覺的自主性就此展開。
Isabella Kohlhuber 的藝術作品，透過了「語言」(非傳統指涉的語言) 來活在藝術中，並且利用藝術做為一種量體，介入城市空間中。避免用張揚的形式，讓語言可以在藝術中自治且獨立，是一種「對理解做出的深邃理解」、更對「意義被製造的過程」有了新的詮釋，在每一回清醒便接受大量訊息的當今社會中，邀請觀眾一起解碼，追求世界真實的模樣。
I have come to focus on language as my primary media because I consider artworks as crystalline structures of meaning. They are not only pieces of decoration for modern homes but they transports messages. In history painters were engaged to tell stories in a universal manner in order to preserve time – similar to taking a note, to writing history. At a certain point in my art career, when I was still studying painting, I was wondering what kind of knowledge allows us to “read” such images? I believe this is what we do when we look at a picture: We try to understand it. Ever since, I have worked on understanding the process of understanding.
I reflect upon how we see or read pictures and texts and where are the differences between these. There are many aspects of looking, interpreting and reading, for instance the linearity of script versus the simultaneity of images, in which elements are positioned on the left or on the right side or at the bottom, like in a spacial arrangement, while as text usually follows sequential rules like “right to left”. Nevertheless, pictures can also be constructed by principles similar to writing, like my ink drawings “untitled (lines)”, which are non-compositional, but still personal pictures resulting from “writing” horizontal lines. On the other hand, I have also used text in non- linear ways, for example with my series of “Typograms”. For these, I lay letter-like shapes over each others, creating specific images rather than sentences, but still referring to words as their original idea. For these works I normally pick terms which seem simple, like “water”, “wind”, “sky”, but refer to insubstantial matter, hard to get hold of. To paint these things would be a difficult task and often words seem to me more precise and more open at the same time, as if they were universal pictures. Thus, I created images of sky, cloud and snow, but different than all other images of skies, clouds and snows that I had seen before.
Also having studied graphic design and typography, I am specifically interested in the details of letter shapes and in what allows us to decipher their meanings continuously in same way, even though there are so many different forms of letters even within one culture. In Latin alphabet and its historic development there have been many styles of writing, some of which can hardly be read anymore today, like Carolingian Minuscule for example. I started a kind of artistic research by printing outlines of Latin characters, cutting them up into small pieces and re-assembling them using the technique of paper collage. First, I tried to make hybrid shapes, like a middle letter between “a” and “b”, or between shapes that have forms in common, like “t” and “r”, thus producing undetermined forms, the meaning of which would be defined only by the process of reading.
Meanwhile I came to considering art a way of communication in the first place. In developing my “Bastard” letters (the name referring to the ancient term for children born outside marriage as well as to specific hybrid forms in typography), I found my own language, so to speak. Once having a somewhat complete set of characters – to which I constantly add new and alternative forms – I digitalized them and was then able to work on texts which play an important role in our societies, like recently a passage from “The Capital” by philosopher Karl Marx, or a sequence from the Copyright Law, or a quote from another philosopher’s work, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “Philosophical Investigations”. With the choice of texts I like to reflect upon specific aspects of art, be it the fact that a piece is also a product in a world of goods (e.g. Marx), be it the definitions of “work” given in copyright regulations or the difference between “what can be said” and “what can be shown” (Ludwig Wittgenstein). Finally, working with language allows me to refer to the role of “context” in art perception, which seems to be just as relevant as the work itself: What can be said or written about it?