Hero Icelandic Soup 2017c Sarah Rinderer

Icelandic Soup, Photo: Sarah Rinderer


Genuine Icelandic Soup

The Bregenz artist Sarah Rinderer loves imperfections. Because filling gaps is much more interesting than following precise instructions. She has worked with the signal flags used by ships, enabled a quartet to play the punctuation from books and enjoys taking virtual voyages at her kitchen table.

Having travelled extensively in recent years, Rinderer is now delighted to have arrived at her Bank Austria Studio in Vienna and is looking forward to write and to making contact with a deceased poet at a physical and temporal distance.

Sarah Rinderer, Photo: Petra Rainer

Mutterschrauben Revisited, Photo: Sarah Rinderer ®Google

In 2017, Sarah Rinderer was ahead of her time. Back then, no one knew about the pandemic that was going to banish us all to our home offices and make travelling difficult and, in some cases, completely impossible. Rinderer already travelled virtually, striking out for the Czech town Planá from her laptop on the kitchen table with the help of Street View. Her grandmother had been expelled from the former Sudeten German town in 1946. This led to the story "Mutterschrauben", a digital journey of reminiscence taken by a grandmother and her granddaughter.

She revisited the story in 2020. While the travel restrictions and curfews were in place, the artist, who was born in Bregenz in 1994, took her audience on a virtual stroll in the form of a video reading. They were sitting at home but felt as if they were in Planá following Sarah Rinderer, their poetic tour guide.

Find the imperfection!

What interests her about this process? "Sometimes the images of the streetfronts aren’t properly assembled, and then there are problems with the pixelation. Everything’s blurred, which is actually just like real memories." Rinderer is fascinated by such imperfections in general. And in literature she’s also mainly interested by the things that aren’t said or are hidden between the lines or behind the punctuation. "»–.!:" is the title of a composition for a mixed quartet based on punctuation marks. "If you fade out all the letters, leaving only these punctuation marks, the book pages look like sheet music. Together with musicians, I translate them into sound."

There are generally many more ways of communicating than we imagine. Such as the international code of maritime signal flags that ships use to communicate over long distances and language barriers. "QF - Cannot make out your Flags, come nearer", Rinderer hoisted her statement of signal flags at the Vienna club FLUC in 2019.

Cannot make out your Flags, come nearer, Photo: Sarah Rinderer

» – . ! (Composition for mixed quartet), Photo: L. Bachmann

Conversations at a distance – across language barriers, time and space

She is currently investigating the flag semaphore, signal gestures used in shipping, but also at airports. "The US author and artist Hannah Weiner (1928-97) performed her poems using signal flags – and asked for answers. I’d like to give one now, at a distance in time."

‘Conversations at a distance’ is the description given by Rinderer to her works, in which literature, performance, music and videos come together. While spending an Erasmus Semester in Iceland in 2017, she became interested in debates about keeping the language free of foreign words. One of the first evidences of this linguistic purism can be found in the poem "The Sickness and Death of Icelandic", in which Eggert Ólafsson (1726–68) describes the language as a woman who is suffering from a terminal disease brought on by too many foreign words. She dreams about a "genuine Icelandic soup". With a twinkle in her eye, Rinderer made this soup, using an off-the-shelf alphabet soup, which unfortunately lacks special Icelandic characters.

Bank Austria Studio at Creative Cluster, Photo: Alexi Pelekanos

Art in the classroom – her Bank Austria Studio

Irony and poetry, communication and critique: Rinderer’s works combine apparent contradictions with enchanting ease. This results in playful new relationships. We chuckle to ourselves, and begin to ponder.

She recently moved into one of the five Bank Austria Studios. This is an old classroom and she’s delighted by the fact that a blackboard is still hanging on the wall. "I need longer to construct and rework a text than I do to write the text itself", she says. "But it’s this that’s most enjoyable." The chalk is ready and waiting, as is this huge blackboard on which things can always be deleted. Even using analogue methods.