Schafskopf, 2009

But no sooner have they been adumbrated than all these groupings dissolve again, for the field of identity that sustains them, however limited it may be, is still too wide not to be unstable; and so the ill mind continues to infinity, creating groups then dispersing them again, heaping up diverse similarities, destroying those that seem clearest, splitting up things that are identical, superimposing different criteria, frenziedly beginning all over again…

Michel Foucault, The Order of Things

I was with Claudia in her studio on a Friday some Fridays ago. The artwork was low to the floor and about half a foot away from the opening. The work titled Schafskopf. Schafsfkopf literally translates as sheep’s head, a German term used to affectionately describe a person who has a woolly brain as well as referring to a popular card game. But here the head of a sheep recalled more an offering, ritualistically placed on a lowered altar.

Dominating the center of the studio was a large table, replete with materials to be incorporated in the work or archived for future use. Two white planks in parallel rows stood along the length of the wall, about a foot off the ground. These subtly patterned planes presented the different elements of the work in schema. The layout resembled pages of a precious book spread out in sequence before they have been bound: an unstuck and unglued variation, in which each page enclosed its own logic. Both, the studio space and the work contained within it were full to their edges.

The sheep head was a recurring sign. One appearance on Claudia’s conveyor belt of images was in form of a children's facemask with blue feathers protruding from its nostrils, and adorned by two wooden clogs as earrings. The sheep mask was placed on a circular perforated mat, itself laid on patterned paper serving as a frame to this absurd visual possibility. The work invites the viewer to ponder its mystery, its shamanic indices.

The search for a stable meaning led to disappointment, as one was led down corridors of kaleidoscopic associations. A fixed point continuously shifts and splits out of its contextual meaning. The scene mutates and its edges sift into a personal ritual.

On this lowered altar, on a summit between tabletop and bench, the props are vulnerable to their environmental frames. A transparent stick bisects the horizontal assemblage. Its transparent effect creates a pause in the installation, a full stop. Discovering it, one realizes that it is here where the artist has departed her miniature headless world. This is the point where one may begin to unpack the playground that appears to have been left aside.

Radhika Khimji, On Schafskopf, BOX, Berlin, 2009