Raika Dittmann: Lines lead to thoughts

“Lines lead thoughts, reflections are dripping into oblivion, insights allow structures to move emotions, edges become clear disintegrating into white.” _ Raika Dittmann noted alongside her drawings in 2016 when she had already studied for two years at the University of Fine Art Saarbrucken with Daniel Hausig. She wanted to study painting. “At that time, I thought my works belonged to painting, but to this day I have not found out what painting actually meant to me. During her studies she developed a transdisciplinary approach that enables her to realize small paper-bound formats as well as architectural projections. In 2016 she participates in the exhibition project SWITCH at the Center for International Light Art Unna. It is the first opportunity for her to show an in-situ work outside of the academic framework.

In her studio she works with graphite, ink and acrylic on paper or canvas, she tests etching and printing processes, she works with light and shadow as drawing material. She deals with the interplay of drawing material and drawing base, of tools and handling, of conscious action and intuitive action. She sharpens her powers of observation and pursues the fraying of the line, she fathoms the shimmering in the perception at a material edge or the interference that arises from the combination of different patterns and structures. The diaphanous, as the medial tissue that spans between light and vision, plays an essential role here. She searches for pictorial potential to make the daring, the indeterminate and the variable an explicit part of the pictorial.

She is not only interested in the material capacities her observations are directed towards the conditions of her imagination. The way she describes her attitude recalls how Roland Barthes described photography in his book “Die helle Kammer” as an interface between past and present _ photography shows something that was already past at the moment of recording and that becomes present in every view. In Raika Dittmann’s reflections, the consciousness takes on the role of the camera: recording corresponds with perception and observation with remembrance. Her aim is to develop an imagination to think beyond what is already known. It is an open-edged search supported by the artistic assumption that imaging is an open volume. Initiating and reacting, considering and assessing, considering and presenting are interwoven in a continuous process. “If I find something in the material experiment, I include it in the memory. A new idea can emerge there. When it stimulates me, I transfer it into the material dimension. Usually the transit is not smoothly and again, from this failure arises something arises which I can refer to.” This is a way to describe what artistic research means and how in her processes, experiments and insights benefit from each other. She strives that the viscosity of her pictorial works reflects the viscosity of her stream of consciousness. “I am interested in the limits of the material, but also my own limits. In my work there is an interaction between what the material can do and what I can do – both physically and psychologically. And between what I imagine and what happens when I implement it.”

It is not an analytical interest that drives her, but rather a poetic one. In Greek „poiētikós” comprises “the sphere of engendering” and describes a process beyond what is intellectually and linguistically comprehensible. For Raika Dittmann, the poetic is a process of perception that reaches out beyond familiar images and conceptual habits to give space to what can be guessed but has not imagined yet.

In her artistic translation, structures of lines, fabrics and structures are created that expand in surface and space. They are not designed as regular, but as organic _ trendilling, expanding into bubbles, flowery shapes, forming waves. They do not follow a pattern or repeat but they are compositions of pictorial proceedings: the course of ink as in the series “Zeichenfolge”, the crumbling of plaster as in the series “Mauerwerk” or the compression of plastics as in the series “Chaordisch”. Raika Dittmann is delighted when the tentative observation she pursues in the preparation of a site-specific installation continues in the way viewers experience her works. “It’s very special when I see someone just taking in one of my works.”

Her materials come from everyday artistic life _ everything that can usually be found in a studio, including infrastructure and architecture. “I take my time to look at a place and to understand its material… it’s about discovering something that gives me orientation, for what I can do. Everything around me can become the object of my observation and the material of art.” For one of the “tours”, the open studios at the HBKsaar, she selected the wash basin and its supply lines for the first in-situ version of “Chaordisch”: With cell-like formations of plastics and miniature luminaires with current-carrying leads that she makes look like branches, she choreographs in a kinetic interplay that is moved in space by air behavior.

Her way of looking for observation corresponds to the fact that she does not let herself be limited by the limitations of sheets of paper or canvases but refers to the entire space that can be grasped in the view. In the in-situ version from the series “Chaordisch”, which Raika Dittmann developed into LICHTUNGEN, the movements of the viewer in space were translated into movements of translucent objects. The plastic objects began to rotate on her own axis. The analog animation changed the view of the objects and the photograph, it modulated the shadow play in the room and on the room shell.

Raika Dittmann’s works are a kind of record of artistic research: “Actually, I never undo anything, but every step remains, even if something fails in its own way, it remains and becomes material for something else. My work is always a documentation of my process.” In the artistic setting, these notations seek her connotations with which the connection between line, form, image and meaning can be rearranged. The American artist Mary Corse, who like Raika Dittmann composes with optical particles, speaks of her works as “a tool that creates an experience that makes us understand reality in a deeper way, or which generates a new meaning, or presence, or state of being.” (1)

The way Raika Dittmann describes her artistic process testifies to a pictorial ambition that is closely linked to intellectual sensitivity. As an artist she locates herself in a matrix of perception, figures of thought and worldviews. In her view of the world, she is concerned with the process in which sensual perception and intellectual translation become a structure of action that creates space for artistic action. “I’m interested in the pictorial, when it becomes too abstract, I start looking for the image-giver again.”

Quotations, unless otherwise stated: Raika Dittmann.
Interviews: Aylin Michel and Bettina Pelz.
Text: Bettina Pelz.


(1) Alex Bacon: In Conversation: Mary Corse with Alex Bacon. On: The Brooklyn Rail. 3 June 2015.
URL https://brooklynrail.org/2015/06/art/mary-corse-with-alex-bacon 8 June 2018.