A rejected and lovelorn wanderer, in a state of existential questioning, seeks inner truth in Winterreise (“Winter Journey”), a song cycle by early 19th-century Viennese composer Franz Schubert. In this work by Tim Rollins and K.O.S., we walk alongside the wanderer through the final six songs of the cycle. We begin with transparency, perhaps even clarity, but our journey tapers into opaque whiteness when we reach the ultimate song, Der Leiermann (“The Hurdy- Gurdy Man”), in the last two panels. There, in the ice and snow, the wanderer meets a hurdy- gurdy player, an elderly beggar playing for no one but himself—for no one else cares to see or hear him.
Does he offer hope, the inspiration to carry on, or is he a final, hallucinatory sign of the wanderer’s imminent death? Tim Rollins and K.O.S. seek hope and therefore present a tabula rasa, a blank slate from which to journey anew; but as snowfall covers the song, notions of disappearance and loss cannot be avoided. In sadness and despair, is there promise for new, greater possibilities?
From the exhibition: Other Side:
Art, Object, Self (August 12, 2017 – January 3, 2018)