Critics’ Picks

View of “Minimal Vandalism,” 2013.


Kay Walkowiak

FeldbuschWiesner Galerie
Linienstr. 155
May 2 - June 14

The lone work in Kay Walkowiak's latest exhibition at Feldbuschwiesner, a video cheekily titled Minimal Vandalism, 2013, opens with a shot of freestyle skater Kilian Martin balanced precariously in a handstand atop three stacked skateboards. He dismounts, hurling himself and one of the skateboards into the air, landing gracefully and sailing into a gallery filled with five minimalist sculptures. Over the next three and a half minutes, he makes quick work of skating up, around, onto, and over each of the sculptures, transforming the space of the Generali Foundation in Vienna into an unlikely skate park. The camera follows him, lingering over the fresh damage inflicted by his skateboard, cataloguing in extreme close-up (and with a certain perverse pleasure) the peeled paint, exposed and warped metal, splintered wood, and heavily scuffed, dirty surfaces left in Martin's wake, not to mention the cacophony of sounds bouncing violently off the concrete walls, which have been dulled and amplified to disjunctive effect.

The sculptures in Minimal Vandalism are, as one would hope, Walkowiak's, and the video (which was directed and edited by Brett Novak) is one of a number of recent projects in which the artist has subjected his work to nontraditional forms of engagement. In the video Stimuli, 2014, for example, a group of monkeys interacts with a series of flat geometric objects, and in Final, 2014, a table-tennis player uses a boxy pair of brightly painted sculptures as stand-ins for both a proper table and a partner. The result of these experiments is not, however, the demeaning of sculpture to the status of mere prop, evacuated of meaning and useful only as a kind of abused furniture. Rather, Walkowiak's videos reject the stale and sterile encounters mandated by the strictures of the white cube in order to demonstrate that Minimalism's promise of activating viewer and space alike still hasn't been completely exhausted.