I don’t believe you anymore. On Endlicher’s Inverted Icons.

The Announcement of a Rejection.

On the one hand Michael Endlicher’s work is characterized by his consequent preoccupation with script and language and on the other by his serial, parallel working method on cycles of pictures which are connected thematically as well as formally. He uses wordplays or plays with letters, onomatopoeia and performative statements, stressing the materiality of the written word and of the act of writing as well as the figurative representation of the text – comparable to some artists of Concrete or Visual Poetry. This is associated with the concept of language as a medium that is linked to the way people think and act: approaches relating to the linguistic criticism of Michel Foucault or Roland Barthes, who regards language as a ferment of the internalization of relations of power, were crucial for the integration of language in the art of the 20th century, especially for conceptual art in the 1960ies. The possibility of exercising power which resides in linguistic and textual statements becomes apparent in Endlicher’s complex of works Inverted Icons.
This serial or cyclical work does not only have the function to deal with formal, motivic or thematic problems more thoroughly, Inverted Icons becomes itself an action which is a part of the theme. Each work already implies the presence of a possible repetition, serving as an “instrument” to enhance the (manipulative) influence of language: in this way a ritual or an often repeated process leave a lasting impression, an often reiterated litany will be remembered.
I don’t believe you anymore, I don’t believe you any more, I don’t believe you anymore, that is the incantation in different languages which runs through all the works almost completely overlaying the portraits of the “icons” (Buddha, Jesus, Che Guevara, Mickey Mouse, Alice Schwarzer, but there are also pictures of several international politicians currently in office, of the Guy Fawkes mask, which is among other things associated with the Anonymous movement , of the artist himself and of his gallery owner). Endlicher subjects all the photographic images of the “figures” that are somehow important for a public or private discourse to the same pattern. In the individual work the rejection refers to a specific role model, in the series the loss of trust into one person turns into a general abjuration of role models (or icons), a principle which is extendable at will.
The visual realization “quotes” the basic statement by leaving only those parts of the original photo or image almost unchanged where it intersects with the bold letters of the inscription. The text seems to be transparent, thus creating the illusion of a “window” because the original photography remains discernible where the body of the letters overlays the image, the rest of the picture shows a digitally manipulated (blissfully alienated) version.
The title Inverted Icons is at the same time a reference to the technical intervention in the photography and to the receptive process intended by Endlicher. In combination with its visual realization the sentence I don’t believe you anymore contains a performative aspect: the announcement of a rejection. The observer/ reader is “forced” to engage in this litany. Since the text is written in the first person singular it results in identification with what is said and at the same time it is not understandable at first sight. Apart from using a typography that is difficult to read, Endlicher ignores the division of words, I DON TBELIE VEYOU ANYM ORE. Reading turns into deciphering, asking for more effort, even for some work, before the content of the sentence can be realized. But by then it is too late, one has already become part of this performative act.

Dr. Anna Spohn, 2010. Art historian, curator, senior scientist (University of Applied Arts/ Institute for Art Sciences, Art Education and Art Mediation)