Dorothea Schlegel Artist in Residence
Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies"
November – December 2022
Alfred Kallir. Models of Transference and Cognition. A Biographical Case Study
In the framework of a long-term artistic project, Till Gathmann is reconstructing the life of Viennese-born Alfred Kallir (1899–1983; Sign and Design. The Psychogenetic Sources of the Alphabet, 1961), an autodidactic scholar on the origins of the alphabet – as reconstructed from the sound and gestalt of its letters. Kallir’s research took shape in response to his psychic crisis in 1942 in England, focusing on the letter V. Given the reparative nature of world-making foundational to his ever-precarious semantic endeavour, and well aware of the co-dependence of soma and psyche exposed in the violence of the historical situation as deeply rooted in humankind, the project tries to carefully establish a setting of transference. With the help of ancient cosmological models understood as early theories of psychic growth – precondition of thinking inner and outer world (Bion) – the work of Kallir can be restored and further continued. Methodological questions of biographical writing, discussed early in psychoanalytic circles, are opened up into an artistic practice of translation in which performance, drawing, topological modelling and writing mutually inform each other. Creating tension between the earliest cosmological texts and modern literary questions of coherence, narrative and authorship – between ancient forms of textual organization, their respective writing techniques and the contemporary modes of intersecting text, image and body – the specific lifetime of Kallir is embedded into his own subject of research.
Till Gathmann is a typographer, artist and writer based in Berlin. He studied at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Günter Karl Bose’s typography and master classes. He specialises in conceptual collaborations in artistic book design. His artistic research insists on the reflexive potential of medial transposition that evolves from the urge to transform psychic and bodily tension into meaning able to satisfy specific forms of aesthetic expression through recomposition.