blank projects, Cape Town
16.03 – 22.04.2017
While viewing side table (2017) – a peculiar painting of a side table on its side – I suddenly realised (much too late probably, given the time that I’d already spent in the space) that something was amiss about the wall on which it hung. Nestled against the existing square column was an extension to the wall, evidenced first by its open right side that exposed the pine framework and space behind it, and more subtly by the unfilled vertical crack that delineated the existing white wall from the white wall that was added.
Momentarily reveling in having been visually fooled, I recalled Italo Calvino’s characterisation of cities, that “like dreams, [they] are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” In Calvino’s metaphor and in Kreutzfeldt’s work alike, the city and space, more broadly, are released from the confines of gridded plots and the fixed boundary of the canvas to suggest a continuous, murky and reciprocal process of making between lived environments and their inhabitants. Presented as an incoherent series of singular moments accompanied by a photocopied collection of ‘field notes’ (photographs, sketches and text), ‘Extensions to the Lot Line’ at blank projects reads as an anthropologist’s investigation of a city, in which visual notes are condensed and interpreted to glean some new understanding about the makers of a place.
As in the installation of side table, and throughout the show, the gallery space houses subtle modifications; a doorway is narrowed with a false wall, the corner of a room is amplified by a vertical, misty streak of red paint, and drawn lines echo the geometry of the room and serve as a map or blueprint of some unknown project. In one instance, off-centre beneath the busy canvas of view 1 (2017), a bright yellow-green block of paint neatly slips, almost undetected, two or three centimeters onto the grey gallery floor, and suddenly you are aware of the surface on which you stand. Similarly, in the smaller and darker back room, black and red lines run parallel to the long florescent light on the ceiling above, giving the impression of an underground or underpass and rendering the viewer physically and perceptually unsure of if they are in fact walking on a slight downhill gradient as they approach extensions to the lot line 2 (2017) on the back wall. These interventions bring the constructedness of the gallery itself to the fore and amplify one’s physical awareness of maneuvering about this manipulated and seemingly in-process space. In so doing, the viewer is invited into a somewhat interactive experience with the work that encourages a deeper consideration of how we not only inform but are informed by the places we inhabit.
While the modifications to the gallery itself visually amplify a desire to break free from the physical, historical and ideological boundaries of our environments, the paintings themselves may be seen as efforts to collapse, condense and contain visual snippets and remnants of artifacts from the anonymous, disparate sites Kreutzfeldt investigates. In extensions to the lot line 1 (2017), the scaffolding of some structure long since abandoned lies entwined with a striped blue tarp on a bed of burned fynbos and red-orange earth. Or is it rather an drape-framed open window looking onto a dark landscape of sharp-branched foliage from within a warm interior?
The works narrate intimate and complex relationships between sites and their inhabitants, but the stories are not made fully available, leaving one feeling as though one has been eavesdropping despite the loud and spectacular displays that escape from the canvases directly onto the gallery walls. This voyeuristic experience is perhaps felt most strongly in the sole video work on show, At the End of August (2016), in which the viewer is guided on a tour through unidentified interior spaces that are framed too closely to definitively discern their purpose or significance with any accuracy.
In our efforts to extend the lot lines and renegotiate the boundaries and histories of our lived spaces, there is a simultaneous anxious desire to understand the secret discourses and absurd rules that inform their creation with some sense of fullness and clarity. This disconcerting interplay between the want to pinpoint and solidify the parameters of what is being viewed and the wish to break free from containment and finality, permeates Kreutzfeldt’s show and constitutes an intriguing starting point from which to begin unraveling and reconstructing our own narratives regarding land and belonging, in both global and South African contexts.
 Calvino, I. 1972. Invisible Cities. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.