Critics’ Picks

View of “Piece of Glass,” 2019.

View of “Piece of Glass,” 2019.


Bea Schlingelhoff

Museum des Landes Glarus Freulerpalast
June 30–November 10, 2019

In a two-part exhibition produced offsite by Kunsthaus Glarus at the landmarked 1648 Freulerpalast, Bea Schlingelhoff has staged a series of sculptures made of museum vitrines, either modularly displayed or functionally stacked on support structures. Contrary to the stylistic quotation of a default Minimalism, Schlingelhoff’s Plexiglas works display visible wear and tear, as well as the taxonomic inscriptions of their past lives. The artist, in an unapologetic transposition, has removed the vitrines from the permanent installations of nineteenth- and twentieth-century objects at the Freulerpalast’s adjacent military museum, leaving the wartime and historical paraphernalia disarmed, exposed to one’s grasp.

Rather than bringing in an unattached, external proposition, Schlingelhoff’s dual intervention—which also features two titles, PAX and Piece of Glass—performs a doubling of the site’s already established properties: most notably, the historical underpinnings of the palace’s extraordinary craftsmanship, a result of capital accumulated by Swiss mercenary warfare. Accompanying the works on-site are antiwar poems circulating on Kunsthaus Glarus’s website, and flamboyant printed matter that references the 1982 Berliner Appeal (an East German disarmament manifesto) and Blondie’s breakthrough single Heart of Glass. Taken together, they reflect the artist’s and the art world’s bearing on formulating an updated commons of an anti-imperialist vocabulary, and also mimic pop culture and the fashion industry’s co-optation of, for example, rainbow flags as an abstract gesture of solidarity. In what appears to be a reckoning of how a culture selects, historicizes, and institutionalizes its objects and legitimizes itself through them, the vitrine becomes an apt interrogator as to what production logics are at play in the cultural spaces juxtaposed here. Looked at this way, artistic style (in this case, Minimalism) succumbs to changing regimes of visibility and ascriptions of value, as does military “craft.”