Critics’ Picks

Toni Schmale, ach ach ach, 2017, concrete and steel, each 47 x 24 x 44".

Toni Schmale, ach ach ach, 2017, concrete and steel, each 47 x 24 x 44".


Toni Schmale

Friedrichstraße 12
September 14–November 5, 2017

At the end of a corridor, the work dipstation (all works 2017) provides the prelude to an exhibition in which today’s rituals around self-improvement take center stage. A slab of dark-gray concrete, mounted to the wall and sized to human scale, is juxtaposed with a black metal bar. No chin-ups are possible here, fat burning isn’t allowed, muscles can’t be trained—the equipment has been reduced to pure form.

The main section of the installation by Toni Schmale is further equipped with supposed tools of optimization: first there is ach ach ach, featuring stanchions on the left and right of each of the three pieces of concrete lying on the floor, together reminiscent of treadmills. The onomatopoetic title of the work plays on not only the rhythmic groaning of those using such machines but also the tripartite formation of the sculpture. Passing das management—a bar, padded with rubber foam, on a metal band, planted at the center of the exhibition—a visitor reaches hot hot hot. Here, there are three metal plates, hung on the wall like mirrors, that the artist has treated with heat in such a way that their surface structure, as well as their color, is altered. Yellowish, dark blue, and violet, the rectangles are iridescent in the cold lighting and offer a blazing counterpoint to this otherwise rigorously solemn show. Only one thing comes to mind: hot, hot, hot.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.