There comes a point where curiosity, responsibility and awareness become altogether awesome, a point where we are overwhelmed by fear. A point where a child rapidly accelerates towards a very adult understanding that all is not well with the world, that we are somehow frustratingly complicit and that it is seemingly beyond our control. Perhaps in the purest sense this is the sublime. Somewhere on the edge of all this is where Lisa Wilkens now dwells. Where her work quietly oscillates. At the very centre of time-aged sheets of paper (sourced from old GDR stocks) sit these tightly rendered images. A compressed lozenge of information and implication leads us through paranoid messages, jingoistic icons and silently tainted consumables. Hands appear a lot. Industry perhaps? Or craft - the sense that we are creators, we are responsible for what we do. Something that is deftly confirmed in the highly crafted, modestly intricate ink drawings.
Each studio day begins for Wilkens in the same way: 8.30 am, a pot of peppermint tea, freshly ground Chinese ink is drawn from a block (a technique she honed on a scientific illustration degree). Perhaps there is solace here? Perhaps the process to which Wilkens returns is the eye of the storm, the moment of regularity and control? Because what is ultimately represented is a trembling, densely packed capsule, charged with questions, with suggestions of place, legacy, archive, dialogue; but nothing is resolved, all that is confirmed is that the conversation is too vast now. All we can ever glimpse are fragments cleaved from history, echoes from an archive of terrible decisions with a half life which will outlast our current cultural idiom. These tiny pieces of painstakingly drafted information sit almost silently (one might imagine that they hum). The borders surrounding them are disproportionate. Safe zones perhaps, like the 5km of rock we hope will contain the toxic treasures of Oncalo. The old East German paper is already yellowing with age. These pieces were decaying before they were even born. Their vulnerability is vital to Wilkens, who is often reluctant to frame her work. The messages with which they are charged are so much more important than their value as artefacts and yet Wilkens very deliberately acknowledges the impossibility of their translation.
Reece Jones, London, 2015