Christian Schellenberger’s (*1980) preferred studio situations are cramped train carriages and high speeds. Difficult conditions for contemporary art, one might suppose. The first museum exhibition of the artist concentrates on 54 pen-and-ink drawings executed between 2014 and 2017 in the course of several train journeys between Berlin and Beijing. The static counterpart is formed by a wall drawing at the MdbK, created by Schellenberger especially for the exhibition.
Schellenberger’s drawings are not contemporary interpretations of landscape art. It is not just the view from the carriage window, but also the noises and movements of the train and fellow passengers that are key to the work process. Prerequisite for the drawing is complete utilisation of the senses. These include optical and acoustic impressions, but also involuntary physical movements, triggered by the juddering of the train. Schellenberger develops a form and rhythm to his drawing, moulded by the social impressions of daily life on the train. The hieroglyphic-like symbols blend to form an endless ornamental chain, undergoing subtle metamorphoses. However, in contrast to the quiet sanctuary of a conventional studio, the drawing rhythm - which the artist calls his “flow” - is constantly threatened with interruption through the circumstances of the crowded train compartment. Then breaks and jolts occur.
The museum becomes a symbolic place of arrival for the train drawings. Here they meet a wall drawing created by Schellenberger under very different conditions. The formerly unique interaction of a shifting production site with maximum restriction of physical radius of action for the artist is no more. The travelling box of the railway compartment is transformed into a stationary museum exhibition space, characterised by its size and silence. Here Schellenberger can move between the nascent wall drawings freely and without encumbrance. A normalisation of working conditions has occurred, enabling another form of concentration for the drawing task. What takes place is a recording of time in the medium of drawing, for whose execution Schellenberger requires approximately the same time as the express train from Berlin to Beijing.