In August 1968 Darboven adapts the date as the foundation of her work. Starting point is the checksum of the digits of a date, called “K-Wert” (K-value), referring to the respective Konstruktion and the Kästchen (little boxes), the number of which visualize the K-value. The key data are formed by the K-values of the first and last days of the years ‘00 and ‘99: 2 (1+1+0+0) and 43 (31+12+0+0) plus 20 (1+1+9+9) and 61 (31+12+9+9). These calculations, noted on single sheets of paper, can extend over a complete century with every single day noted, thus covering many thousand pages. With this system at the latest Darboven is being considered one of the central figures of conceptual art.
Single dates, however, are less central to Darboven’s thinking and writing than the process, the progression of the K-values with their manifold and ever more artistic variations. Richard Wagner’s line from Parsifal, “here time becomes space,” thus finds its manifest expression.
Rather than pursuing the conventional madia of art Darboven takes up the tradition of writing and books. She writes by hand or types on single sheets, and a great number of her works are written in exercise and copy books or bound to large albums. Her wordless writing line is the expression of an existence that day after day and with strictest consequence shoulders the burden of her self-imposed task.
In addition she creates extensive thematic works as hommages to outstanding poets, philosophers, scientists, politicians and artists – the models and examples of her life and work. Namely there are: Leibniz, Frederic the Great, Lichtenberg, Bach, Beethoven, Goethe, Alexander v. Humboldt, Heine, Lincoln, Bismarck, Rilke, Gertrude Stein, Walter Mehring, Alfred Döblin, Kurt Schwitters and Picasso. The background for this is not basic cultural knowledge but, unquoted, Kant’s categorial imperative.
Already as a child Darboven shows great musical abilities, which she postpones in favor of the visual arts. But she always knew that “my work will end in music”. In 1980 she begins to transform her system of numbers into music according to a simple principle (number zero is note d etc.). This score is then arranged by a professional musician for musical instruments, from solo to full orchestra. The result is a fascinating sound experience, a mixture of what Darboven's calls “mathematical music” and the great tradition of classical music."
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