Joe Scanlan

Raum Aktueller Kunst Martin Janda
A-1010 Wien Eschenbachgasse 11
September 8, 2003–October 18, 2003

My dirty self-portrait, 2003.

Joe Scanlan’s “Mieses to Pieces” is a funny, sarcastic farewell to functionalism, which, according to the artist, has diverged from its utopian origins and succumbed to the profit motive. A platform, dubbed “Store A,” displays an arrangement of pillows, vases, aluminium flowers, and a cobbled-together IKEA storage unit, while a small yellow handbook offers the artist’s instructions on how to build a coffin from cheap shelves for “less than $399.” (Also according to the handbook, each of the platform's objects has a dedicated function—the pillows are for the inside of the coffin, the flowers for its decoration.) In the back room, protest signs lean against the wall, condensing the rejection of modernism into a few words: “Gehry is getting scary” and “Corbu ist GESTORBU” (Corbu is dead). Scanlan, face smeared with muck, laughs at us from a large photograph. Rather than a critique, he actually seems to be offering a solution: If we take things less seriously, the impulse toward functionality and practicality will loosen its grip.

Translated from German by Emily Speers Mears.

— Sabine B. Vogel