The clock! Klaus Rinke has it with her. In Düsseldorf’s Volksgarten he set up the “time field” with 24 standard time clocks, so named more out of necessity. The artist does not like to give his works titles; they are property details, supplemented by the year. The exhibition “Klaus Rinke. Projects – MoMA 1973 et al.” the photograph of a normal watch, classic, clear, definitive.
Rinke is about time, about its passing, about becoming aware of the passing. This does not require the clock, which is a tool to capture time in numbers. Rinke undertakes actions with his own body, with water or both, each representing “time” in its own way.
In the Haubrok Foundation in Lichtenberg, where the second part of the double exhibition can be seen, the video of the action “Twelve barrels of water drawn from the Rhine” is running, which he undertook at the end of June 1969 from Düsseldorf up the Rhine, every station at which he with huge scooped water into a barrel with an exact time.
Water flows, it can be splashed or it can gradually evaporate from barrels. The process takes years. At Haubrok such barrels can be seen, or a large jar with the indication “Slowly sinking water level”, next to it a jar of the same size full of salt to draw moisture.
The largest installation is the “water table,” a tumble of metal supporting a flat tub, filled to just below the brim with water, the surface of which has already acquired a delicate film. Collector patron Axel Haubrok, who guides visitors through the buildings of his “mobility department” in the Lichtenberg industrial park, fails to turn on the water, which is actually supposed to run in slowly on one side and drain off on the other side when the edge of the tub is reached.
Klaus Rinke, born in Wattenscheid in 1939, gave up painting in 1966 after completing his apprenticeship as a decorative painter and studying at the Essen Folkwang School and turned to actions – in the circle of the Düsseldorf guru Beuys. He called the use of one’s own body in gradual, clockwise changing gestures, so to speak, “primary demonstrations”.
Videos at Haubrok and photographs at Kicken testify to this, such as the 25 recordings of the action “Wand, Boden, Raum” from 1970, with which Rinke measured the space around the body. At that time he walked around with an impressive Afro hairstyle, a strong man of stature, who apparently effortlessly coped with actionist efforts such as the production of 4000 liters of melt water from snow shoveled in tons – 1979 in the Black Forest.
Rinke, Haubrok regrets, has never had a solo exhibition in Berlin. So there it is, spread over two locations, introducing Berlin, whose western half refused art in the late 1960s, to the positions in the Federal Republic of the time when conceptual thinking gained the upper hand.
The west of the Rhineland was thus on the same wavelength as the west across the Atlantic.
In this respect, it is wonderful that the artist portraits of Angelika Platen, who also comes from this generation, can be seen in another building of the GDR “Mobile Service” under the title “Sequences. Conceptual Photography”. Rinke, of course, enlarged to fill the entire wall.
Rinke’s works have the advantage of not only being present in video and photography, there are also a large number of tangible objects and installations that the artist keeps in Austria without caring too much about museums. There couldn’t be a better place for them than the harsh workshop in Haubrok’s realm.
The collector reports with amusement which installation could not be shown in which gallery at the time because it did not fit through the door; Quite apart from the planned flooding with water, which then appears in the video with the beautiful opening words “Heidegger! My wooden paths are waterways” is dreamed of.
Rinke came to Berlin for the opening of the exhibition and celebrated his 83rd birthday with enviable vitality. He has exhibited everywhere, at New York’s MoMA and at the Center Pompidou in Paris. His body-water-time works are still bulky. For thirty years he was a professor of sculpture at the Düsseldorf Academy. He opened up new dimensions for her with actions, as he said at the time, “not as a symbolic action, but as a sculpture”.