_ Leibniz Project | Ulrike Grossarth

Leibniz Project

Berlin/Wien, 1999-2000

Quite often, works were initiated by themes stemming from the history of ideas or cultural history.

In the Leibniz Project from 2000, I was concerned with the status given to the body, or rather, the designs, constructions and notions of bodies that serve as “transition potentials” in abstract models of the world and are thus embodiments and stations, as it were, in one’s intellectual disposition. I am fascinated by objects that stem from philosophical systems and go round as phantoms in society’s popular science, e.g. Kant’s thing-in-itself and Leibniz’ Monad. To what extent does physicality extend into the construction of idealistic systems and what forms, shapes and figures play a role in the process? In view of these questions, I developed representations of different physical states assigned to different mental fields. For me, the Monad is an object of speculation dressed up in the conditions of scientific language, one of the remarkable ‘assisting bodies’ that accompany occidental thought, which is decidedly inimical to the body. Leibniz’ linking of the two opposite concepts of body and soul to a unity in a pre-established correspondence, so-called pre-stabilized harmony, in my opinion does not entail the resolution of the soul/body problem. This speculation, which is again idealistic, does not mean crossing a border and perceiving the body as an element of reality belonging to space and time in which both can be experienced in an integrated way. The body is only used as a conceptual entity, and its dimensions are not further considered. Bodily access to the world is blocked. In the portrait by an unknown artist, Leibniz himself appears to me like an allegory of ,pre-stabilized harmony’ - dark, the body concealed in a shiny garment. His pale face and the remarkably delicate, folded scarf, a representative ‘breath of soul’, a sign of the structured system of thought propped on the ‘residual body’ which is degraded to a tripod.