»Setz dein Ich in Anführungsstriche« (Put your I in quotation marks) is Philipp Gufler's first institutional solo show. The title references Hubert Fichte's "Essay on puberty" (1974) with the excerpt, "Just put your I in quotation marks – call yourself a ‘novel’", which adds an analytical distance to his otherwise literary advancements in order to question his own (partly autobiographical) approach. Philipp Gufler appropriates a similar gesture when handling the exhibition content: The work deals with two artistic positions from the 1970's and 80's – Rabe Perplexum in Munich and Ben d'Armagnac in Holland, whose performances and artistic oeuvre can nowadays only be perceived fragmentarily. It is a personal technique, which through its immediacy still manages to preserve an artistic distance; a layering, without losing the artistic identity of its subjects.
The method Gufler applies does not follow art historical norms nor make use of reenactments, instead he attempts to create a kind of artistic doubling. His interest lies not in the repetition of a performance, rather he uses his own artistic praxis to sound out the persona behind the performance. "Becoming-Rabe" is a video installation in which Gufler takes on the role of artist Rabe Perplexum, wherein the resulting identity-merge does not occur on a linear basis, but through poetic mimesis using archival footage and Rabe's performance props.
The motive of doubling and layering is a common denominator throughout Gufler's exhibition. The merging of layers, visual as well as temporal and identitarian, manages to break with the common (scientific) understanding of history. Gufler's disregard of artistic identities as finalized, historical entities allows him the freedom to update, change and realign these. His work is not a production of identitarian fixation, but instead blurs the borders between the artist's self and the subject – a gesture which is also reflected in his series of quilts and elaborated on for the viewer in a sequence of silkscreened mirrors. The resulting reflections within the space add an additional layer to the exhibition's conceptual discourse.
Fichte wrote of Henry James that, "Gay language is inauthentic, it is a form of indirect speech", consisting of "innuendoes, alienation, exaggerations, irony, travesty". Gufler appropriates these stylistic devices, speaking with them, not for them. Gufler's individual language of intimations creates a space for the work of Rabe and D'Armagnac, whilst at the same time defamiliarizing it, in order to ultimately destabilize any form of artistic identity.