Architectonic Articulations

Harlequin’s Cornucopia

* this is a draft version of a short text for an upcoming exhibition with the Swiss Performance artist Heinrich Lüber (

Harlequin’s cornucopia

by Vera Bühlmann


given be:

the announcement of a statement by Heinrich Lüber,
placed within a curated series called „The Process of Performance“,
promising the artists presence for two hours daily, somewhen
within a spectrum between a day’s dawn and its fall into night
repeatedly over several days
in a grey painted exhibition space.


a baroque horn, five meters in length
staked vertically on a circling stage with a mirroring surface
on which the artist escapes the position of the pivot
and runs ahead of the moment’s location
struggling to assume what is needed to instruct the way
to what comes out of the horn,
a horn that sounds,
when it sounds,
in measured and articulate plenty.


An exposure that takes place with a jump from somewhere else
arriving as the instructed third
rather than existing as the excluded middle.

The Harlequin is someone
who genuinely originates in the masks
he makes himself fit into,
clumsily but not without elegance.

All humor and all curiosity, witty and quick
compelled to learn the codes of social strata from which he,
the newcomer to the Renaissance cities in Italy
finds himself at once, welcome and excluded,
with no prepared place
reserved for him to occupy and make his living
kind of like everyone else, there.

An exposure that takes place with a jump from somewhere else
arriving as the instructed third –
this is the Harlequin’s strategic stroke
to familiarize himself without resentment
with those who desire to exclude
even the possibility of his humorous existence
for the sake of an established order.


Humor, someone told me recently,
is such a notoriously imprecise word
that we better let go of it altogether.
Instead we should reflect in terms of irony,
wit, satire, sarcasm, invective speech or cynicism,
sardonicism, why not,
what that ancient word for our bodily fluids,
determinative of our mindful states,
might actually stake and expose.


The harlequin is not convinced.
To him, this is the speech of a subject whose place is made,
who speaks with the confidence of someone who knows and is granted
at least to a reliable degree
his rights and duties that are protected by law.

What backs up such confidence
– this is all the harlequin really trusts he knows
depends upon the exclusion of his particular kind of existence,
driven by the force of humors
that are tempered, yet in confuse manner.


Never assuming an unambiguous position,
the harlequin is much too much impatient for desiring to rest
in a statue’esque kind of equilibrium.
Nor does he go into opposition. Withdrawal
to a second stability from which nothing can come
except the disturbance of the established, this is
entirely against his intellectual nature.

His nature is exposure that arrives and takes place by jumps.
The harlequin is born from masks, from placeholders that guard
the well-being of what appears without pre-established measure
corresponding to it.

He is natural kin to the well from which time springs forth
and entirely foreign it is to him
that one could desire to inhabit time.

The harlequin owes everything
to a deviation that is relative only to the codes
enveloping the safekeeping of an origin that gives birth, always, to more
than what can be reasoned with its formulation as a postulate.

It is deviation that throws or launches position outside of itself
and thus keeps the domain of promise well,
that harlequin pays service to when he breaks the clarity
of any established shunting into regular paths.


Harlequin knows how to have conversations
that are dialectical, yes, but not entirely argumentative nevertheless.

He has them, latently and readily available,
like a servant who has service to offer.
He is rich with a kind of incandescent charge that renders him
capable to alloy contradictions in character
– yet always and only
without properly mastering the situation.

The harlequin has much of this charge,
but not as a property that were given to him
like a fair appearance or good health
– he only has as much of it as it is granted interest
by others than himself.


This incandescent charge is accumulated
in his knowing how to have in abundance
what he is, at the same time,
deprived of
excluded from
and hence never sufficiently familiar with:
conversations in which something is at stake
a some thing that is existential, no doubt
and yet it must count,
to him in his humorous existence,
as mixed and unknown.


Like the unknown values variables might assume in an equation
if linked up with givens,
that something which is at stake in these conversations
depends upon a code in order to figure in a determinable manner.

If the harlequin knows how to address such indeterminate values
and how to push them to figure in new lights
it is because he insists that it is always plenty from which one draws
and that, in effect, one doesn’t properly know what is at stake
in any of it.


The harlequin is a trickster who counts on playing jokers
literally a ‚little devil‘, Greek for an angle that is not rooted
in a diagonal magnitude of which
it could be presumed that it is shared
in any other way than as charge that can be exchanged
within a milieu of plentiful saturation.

Himself a diffracted angularity,
the harlequin ceaselessly changes and avoids to stumble and fall
as he is comprehended in many declinations at once,
declinations without ductus,
immoderate and non-tempered
stripped of overall guidance
immersed in an original orientation that is not bare of direction
but copiously full it.

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