Tic (french tic ‚[nervous] convulsion‘) depicts a short involuntary, recurring and sometimes complex motoric contraction of discrete muscles or muscle groups. Tics become especially noticeable during social contact when manifesting as intense body movement or vocalisation, such as the cardinal signs of Tourette syndrome. A tic can be considered as an anomaly, a short caesura in everyday routine. A subconscious urge cuts its way into the everyday reality.
Christian Freudenberger‘s works can be regarded as such caesuras. Recurring fragments of a collective inventory of images with already inherent aesthetic purposes – comics, company logos, technical everyday objects – are steadily compiled and archived, serving as the basis for tableaus, that during the image finding process are reduced up until a point, at which the fine line between narrative motifs and total abstraction sways back and forth. Thus the works of the series tic pursue Freudenberger‘s tradition of convolution, as it was elaborated multifaceted in his image series Alternative Objekte (2008-). In these various spatial concepts collide. Following this, o.T. (leer, tic 3) (2017) displays just a few strokes of black acrylic. Meanwhile, its painterly attitude is mostly undone in the typical use of tape as its construction. For the viewer, the few lines and shapes condense as a comic-esque space, in which a sort of plot and with it the initial presence of characters is implied in the remains of characteristic signs. But most of it seems to have already dissolved into the indefinite background of sand-coloured spackle. Beyond their specific, graphic form, Freudenberger‘s paintings reflect on “non-places”.
In the last episode of the British television series Sapphire and Steel (1979-1982) the two ponymous heroes, played by Joanna Lumley and David McCallum, find themselves in a place appearing to be a gas station café from the 1940s. The walls of the adjacent workshop feature company logos: Access, 7 Up, Castrol, GTX, LV. Another couple, man and woman, sits at an adjoining table. The woman, now standing, says: “This is a trap. Here is nowhere – forever and ever.” She and her partner disappear, their ghostly shapes fading. Sapphire and Steel panic. Eventually they draw open the curtains, but outside is only a black void with stars shining above. The café is drifting through deep space like a space capsule, it seems.
A number of things about the series seem remarkable from a 21st century perspective. First, the merciless refusal to accommodate the audience‘s expectations. Some of the reasons are of conceptual nature: Sapphire and Steel stays cryptic, the stories and backstories are never fully revealed, let alone explained. But also the emotional stance of it is striking: the protagonists, as well as the series altogether lack any form of warmth or ironic manner, both of which are a given
in today‘s entertainment shows.
Sapphire and Steel‘s assignment in this last show is, as usual, a problem in the temporal order. At the gas station, they encounter echoes from the past: constantly, people and images from 1925 and1948 appear, so that, as Silver, a fellow agent, phrases it: “the times blend, collide and get mixed up in a way that doesn‘t make any sense”- like an
involuntarily squeezed out Tourette‘s curse as a rejection of the imperative of the inevitable run of events.