Robert Sommer

The Tower of 7000 Days

Robert Sommer

I often find myself believing that painting is not possible in the aftermath of Marcel Duchamp, who developed readymadesin 1913. He declared everyday objects as art, breathing a new soul into them. How can one make art today, without falling behind such a noble ending to the history of the arts?

Let’s brush aside the objections that pictures are always at least decorative, and that empty walls of galleries and museums are emptier than full walls: How can one advocate that it is not possible to paint pictures in the wake of Duchamp, yet still credit the work of Linde Waber, whose pictures seem to prove that even a great deal of originality cannot move beyond the finality of Duchamp. One can!Because Linde Waber beats Duchamp in terms of sheer tenacity and persistence. This sounds absurd at first, but I will try to explain. 7000 everyday objects, declared to be art and exhibited in an appropriately large building, add up to little more than a warehouse. Nobody would care to view these objects the way you look at the paintings in the Leopold Museum, even though each of the paintings is less interesting than Duchamp’s urinal, which was baptized by the real urine of the artist Pierre Pinoncelli and later damaged by his hammer.

But 7000 drawings, exhibited in a House of Art, form a holistic work which dwarfs the urinal of Duchamp, even if there were 7000 of them lined up like in a ceramic factory. And I can only think of one artist – Linde Waber – who could provide these 7000 drawings in a consistent format: 35 cm by 35 cm on Japanese Washi paper. Soon, when word spreads that Linde has put together a “Tageszeichnung” every single day for 20 years, then the folks attending the anniversary celebration (to which I want to be invited, dear Linde) will start testing the limits of their mental arithmetic, and if they manage it, they’ll get to something like 7000. 7000 days have to be experienced, each fully and consciously, to fathom the scope of this work.

A single daily drawing, on its own, constitutes a throwback behind the provocation of Duchamp. But the idea to leave, each and every day for 20 years, an artistic footnote, a playful summation, an improvised documentation of a memorable moment – this idea towers over that pissant of a urinal, especially because it is being realized with such a bewildering array of possible and impossible techniques. I can only list a few here: egg tempera, pigmented ink, markers, coloured woodcuts, as well as collages of photos, invitations, recipes, postcards, letters, and admission tickets; anything that a waberine day brings is worked in, glued on, or painted over: cheerful moments, fears, annoyances, choices, words, encounters, eureka moments, encouragements, enrichments, travel adventures, project ideas, or miracles. Since I am privileged to cross Linde’s paths occasionally, there are also two, three “Tageszeichnungen” with my contribution, even if it is just my signature among many signatures of all the guests at a vernissage.

The artist once gave me a picture, I believe it was for my birthday. It shows the flak tower* in the Augarten park. She can see that tower from her apartment and studio. Because it apparently can’t be removed, it has to be given some civilian function – in addition to its service as a memorial against war and fascism. So, we don’t have to search any longer for the House of Art to take in the 7000 daily drawings of Linde Waber. The flak tower becomes the “Tower of 7000 Days”. And every day, at a given time, they’ll throw a toilet bowl off the observation platform of the tower. It will shatter onto a growing pile of ceramic shards, as a tourist attraction. When the bowl fragments, applause will rise up, and it will be loud enough for Linde to hear at her studio on Gaußplatz.


Footnotes (should be included in the book)

* The flak towers were large concrete air-defense installations built during World War II. Several of these remain in various parks throughout Vienna, and some have been converted for modern use (e.g. the “House of the Ocean”).


NOTES (not to be included in book!)

  1. Line 13 – “jedes einzelne von ihnen” We interpreted this as referring to the paintings in the Leopold, but it could also refer to the 7000 objects?
  2. “Tusche” is a type of pigmented ink, so we used that term in line 76.
  3. We couldn’t think of a fitting translation for “Weichenstellung”, so we used the non-poetic “choices”