I tried to write you a love song (2018)

Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau
Performance in group exhibition «On the Road. 10 years of CARAVAN – Series of Exhibitions of Young Art»

room with transparent curtains, bench & microphone on bench
room with transparent curtains

It's just one of these weird days. I mean, I think it might be...

artist gazing at audience, in front of transparent curtains

I don’t know, I feel better now, I guess... just talking about it.

artist walking between transparent curtains

I don’t want your advice, I don’t want your jokes. No, no!

artist pointing finger behind transparent curtain
artist walking between transparent curtains
artist stretching arm towards audience while speaking into microphone

I don’t want your cleverness, or your judgement. No, thanks!

artist speaking into microphone and grabbing transparent curtain
artist pointing finger to audience in front of transparent curtain

I need you close.

artist standing on the edge of wooden bench
artist standing on the edge of wooden bench

Where do we go from here? This isn't where we intended to be.

artist standing on the edge of wooden bench

Deep in my heart I'm concealing, things that I'm longing to say. Scared to confess what I'm feeling, frightened you'll slip away.

artist crossing arms in front of chest
artist standing in front of fan with microphone
artist kneeling before fan
artist lying on wooden bench with hands behind his head

I want to jump into you. Swim in your waters. Move with your waves. I want to feel the tingling of your salt on my skin.

artist's face behind transparent curtain

If I jump into you, will you carry me? Or will you drown me?

artist sitting on wooden bench behind transparent curtain

«The performance I tried to write you a love song (2018) is about the need to communicate and be understood by the other. This work by Robert Steinberger, which will be performed twice, weaves together self-written texts and quotes of various origin, which result in a personal interpretation of communication in intimate relationships. People yearn for other people, long to feel safe and cared for and understood. Yet communication with its frequent ambiguities and misunderstanding tends to get in the way of the need to connect. 

What often remains unclear in Steinberger’s work is to whom his words are directed: does he call on a particular person to love him or, as in the case of the pop star, on the public? ‹My dear, let me perform for you›, he wrote in the invitation for his 2017 performance let me go...down. The artist exposes his inner self and risks failing. The conditions of the ephemeral art form of performance are precarious. The more intensely the artist speaks of the fear to reveal his true feelings, the more open and vulnerable he becomes as a stage figure.

While the subject of love is met with reservation in the visual arts, it is the central theme in pop music. What fascinates Steinberger is the fine line between the display of personal experiences and the universal message of a pop song. He likes to mix such song lyrics with other found quotes as well as texts of his own, thus muddling up the question of authorship.

As a physical trace of the ephemeral art form, a poetic invitation to the performances is available in the space on the museum’s lower level. Panels of semi-transparent fabric in warm gold and pink colours create an intimate space within the space, where viewers can read the invitation and feel the light breeze which sways the airy curtains.»

-Aargauer Kunsthaus exhibition text

Photos © Esther Nora Mathis 2018