Walter Pichler

Museum der Moderne Salzburg | Mönchsberg
Mönchsberg 32
November 26–June 5

View of “Walter Pichler: Radical: Architecture & Prototypes,” 2016.

This retrospective of Walter Pichler’s work makes it clear that he remains profoundly influential, both in his native Austria and beyond. Simultaneously working in sculpture, architecture, graphic design, furniture, industrial design, drawing, and occasionally writing, he liberally blurred the disciplinary boundaries between these fields and heralded an expanded notion of what an artist might be.

Take, for instance, Table for Oswald and Ingrid (Prototype 8), 1967. It is purportedly a dining table for two, with inflatable legs and a plastic top with indentations that are meant to function as plates. Embossed with the names of its prospective users—the jazz musician and writer Oswald Wiener and his wife, Ingrid Schuppan-Wiener, whose home was a gathering place for the Viennese avant-garde in the 1960s—it is hilarious as a piece of furniture, but its idiosyncratic form clearly marks it as sculpture. This piece questions both the autonomy of art objects and the “form follows function” philosophy of modernist design while acknowledging the social context of its presentation. Moreover, Pichler’s use of inflatable PVC and other then-new materials further muddied the distinction between design and sculpture.

The artist, in dialogue with interlocutors including architect Hans Hollein, aimed to integrate art into everyday life. With works such as Dormitory, 1968, consisting of four beds (one lost) with sculptural forms, radios, or photographs embedded in each mattress, he expanded the contexts available for artistic endeavors. The strength of this exhibition ultimately lies in the fact that it offers aesthetic strategies that are still highly effective at situating art outside its isolation in order to both trouble and enrich it.

Yuki Higashino

Gina Folly

Ermes-Ermes | Vienna
Linke Wienzeile 36/1C
March 3–May 3

View of “I want you to live in my city,” 2017.

Gina Folly’s latest, uncanny exhibition, “I want you to live in my city,” is a simple but evocative show that suits this gallery’s new space, a former stable in the courtyard of a prestigious building. Here, Folly produces an intimate environment: Five small projections (Basic Needs I, II, III, IV, and V, all 2017) are each placed in a cardboard shipping carton on the ground. Like houses, the boxes have walls and floors, permeated by air and equipped with a lock that offers protection from the outside world. Strewn about the space, stray keys are embellished with found objects, such as a bone, a stone, and a hook.

The looped videos describe a poetry of everyday life––one might think in a way similar to Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson (2016). An open window swings back and forth, creating unexpected refractions of light; two kittens in a basket evoke the idea of a domestic hideaway; a close-up of hands that play with a rubber band conjures a playful childhood moment; feet immersed in water craft a cathartic pause; the face of a Buddha in the window of a bar brings to mind religious and spiritual considerations. These are pearls of short-term memories lacking solidity, as echoed by the precariousness suggested by the boxes. The confrontation between public and private space remains a constant in the research of this artist, who takes an ever-curious view of ordinary reality.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Marta Silvi

Elena Alonso

Matadero Madrid
Plaza de Legazpi, 8.
February 10–July 30

Elena Alonso, Visita Guiada (Guided Visit), 2017, copper wire, wood, cement, cork, plaster, paint, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Since its inception, Elena Alonso’s drawing practice has continually redefined its own formal limits. It was only a matter of time for her motifs to evolve into sculptural entities. The artist cultivates an ambiguous terrain in her iconography, somewhere between geometric abstraction and organic representation with allusions to the body.

This site-specific project, titled Visita Guiada (Guided Visit), 2017, is a newly commissioned work installed in the cold storage of a former slaughterhouse in Madrid. That she has so successfully translated her personal language, her profound sense of intimacy, into such an overwhelming and complex scenario is stunning. Drawing evolves into space in the form of a hand railing that runs around the columns, which she has covered with a rhythmic succession of materials ranging from copper wire to softly carved wood or plaster, and the architecture of the installation, rather than its surface appearance, comes to the fore. A number of holes in the ceiling provide the only illumination in the show. These were once covered but now allow light to flow down from the floor above. This lighting is eminently unspectacular, as if not seeking to brighten the installation but to emphasize the singularity of the space.

Javier Hontoria

Jake and Dinos Chapman

Arter - Space For Art
İstiklal Caddesi 211, Beyoğlu
February 2–May 7

Jake and Dinos Chapman, We Are Artists II, 2017, neon, 2 x 16'.

World Peace Through World Domination II, III, IV, 2013—a trio of black fabric banners printed with ominously identical white “smiley” faces—greets visitors to Jake and Dinos Chapman’s debut solo show in Istanbul, as if to announce the ludic abjectness of their oeuvre is a country of its own. The ground floor is studded with vitrines featuring their showstopping, meticulously choreographed, ghastly slaughter scenes with tiny figurines (such as The Sum of All Evil, 2012–13), and the first floor offers a sustained emphasis on the duo’s appropriation and deskilling strategies. A new neon commission, We Are Artists II, 2017, hangs across from The Same Thing But Better, 2010—their clinical yet incomplete re-creation of Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, 1995, by fellow YBA Tracey Emin. While Emin found it impossible to re-build her piece after its demise in a tragic storage-unit fire in 2004, the Chapmans had no qualms about the task of reproducing Emin’s possibly most notorious work to date. Their cannibalistic dissolution of the mythic artist-persona as the locus of genius is reflected in the blinding 170-word neon sculpture, in which the artists label themselves “sore-eyed scopophiliac oxymorons” (after the same text they wrote in mud on a gallery wall in 1991).

The ultimate exhaustion of this already tired medium, neon, goes hand in hand with the nearby “Shitrospective” series, 2009: These miniaturized and haphazardly painted cardboard-poster remakes of some favorite Chapman sculptures—among them, Great Deeds Against the Dead, 1994, and Two-Faced Cunt, 1995—present the artists’ further vilification of their already biting, erotically transgressive works. Surely, the masochistic deconstruction of their own art resembles, as Jake Chapman admits in an interview in the exhibition catalogue, “a dog [returning] to its vomit” and is extremely potent as such.

Gökcan Demirkazik