Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur, Hannover, 2000

The site of the exhibition is a staircase - the domicile of an elliptical spiral, which with a grand gesture and a flowing movement loops to the top floor. It is a functional space, a space that does not hold you back. Its daily business is movement: from top to bottom, from below to above and in between into the hallways. No furniture, nothing permanent has settled here. Only sounds like the banging of doors, the clanging of disappearing steps, and the murmuring of voices leave their traces for a brief moment.

To get to Isabel Schmiga's works, one has to follow the banisters. On the dark floor of the ground floor, the murmuring has found a form. From there, balls, thrown from a handrail, point the way to the fifth floor. Porous dust is on the railing, was condensed by the hand into a body, which now no longer promises to guide the hand securely. The coarse surface of the plaster seems too delicate, too porous, the handrail itself has become too strange to touch it casually. Playfully, tentatively, like an enormous antenna it stretches towards us, who for years accompanied it, were allowed to grasp it.

The handrail has changed its direction. From the ground floor, you want to see the beginning in the end, to try to pave a path that will finally make the origin visible. But the path upwards must be walked. Like a scar that has broken open again, the handrail shows us the inside of its downwardly spiralling movement. Now completely a marble run, it shows the contradictions of the forces that lie within it, shows us the balls which polish its coarse inner sides on their way down, and balls which it holds fast in the coarseness of its body, after they lost their first drive. Following the handrail, this ascent which defies the direction, tightens the spring of a mechanism, and the energy that gets this game going accumulates.

Having arrived on the fifth floor, a pool marks the end of the search and the beginning of the game - a moulded and polished structure made of plaster, half bowl in which the balls are, half funnel through which the balls get into the rail. Under the mouth of the run, which here demands participation, is also the old handrail, which, oblivious to this game, runs its course above. But which runner is one support to help to start, which will win the run? Apparently similar, they are actually all different: oval and round, smooth and some rather chipped from clanging onto the floor. Rien ne vas plus: a self runner has been set on its course. At first it rolls slowly, then gains speed. For a moment, the sound of the ball running and the gaze from above to the removed run compensate for the tiring ascent. But already on the fourth floor, the enthusiasm wanes. The ball slows down. It is a brief dithering between the speeds before it runs out against the resistance of the leading track. Again, it asks to be pushed along, again you have to exchange the distance of the gaze to the closeness of intervention, use your own hand to help the ball along to its goal.

On the fifth floor, right across from the marble run, Isabel Schmiga attached another sculpture to the wall. But in contrast to Handlauf it is, because manufactured industrially, apparently not connected to the sense of touch. With a wink, eye contact (i.e. Blickkontakt) is demanded. Twenty-four ellipsoids crawl up the wall behind the stairs. Without order, their heavy bodies rise and lower themselves over the horizon of the baseboard. Firmly fixed to the wall, their desire to direct themselves into the room questions their bondage. Confusion is initiated and now turns the twin body of the black-and-white completely into a source of friction. Almost imperceptibly, they push away from each other, and the stomachs of the crazy bodies rub against each other.

One could also think of eyes: eyes that observe, eyes which as it were gaze at themselves. Like a many-headed monster that teaches us how you can see your seeing, so that the negative form of the gaze, the not being able to see, is firmly in front of our eyes. To whom should one turn, with whom establish contact? The ellipsoids on the wall cannot give an answer. Their polished surfaces remain strangely blind in the exchange of gazes. In the reversal of black and white, the light is unable to penetrate them. Protectively, the black body expands the mirroring on its surface, whereas the white immerses it in a diffuse fog. It is this untraceable depth that inserts itself into the seeing, and makes you believe to be eye to eye with a fish. "Seeing and being seen", is the rule of eye contact, but in the dialogue of the many gazes it rewrites itself: "I see something you don't see" is what we are told.

In the multiplicity of the meandering bodies, you looses the overview and thus also the foundation of your own view. Freed from any perspective, you loose your ground. Can't these bodies be read from above? The free flight of reflection disentangles the ellipsoids, turns them into balls on the pool table of the wall. The handrail comes to mind, where the final image of the white marbles on the dark floor could not be grasped from above. Here, we are faced with the negative. Immediately you want to intervene and try to formulate a notion in ever new orders of what is visible. But caught in the elliptic tracks between being and seeming, we can only ascertain in our thoughts what the question here is.