Bogomir Ecker

Stadtisches Kunstmuseum

Some artists have pursued a kind of archaeology of everyday life by presenting artifacts of our recent past, ordinary objects that have been—or soon will be—rendered obsolete by technological progress. In the late '70s, Bogomir Ecker chose a different path: rather than digging up clues, he began planting his own. Anonymously, in a variety of locations—a shabby corner of a street in Paris, in front of a fence surrounding a freight yard in Düsseldorf, in the freezer compartment of a local supermarket—he created imaginative temporary installations that challenged the assumptions and expectations of our day-to-day routines. Even when he showed his work in galleries and museums, Ecker found ways to provoke us out of our customary perceptual habits.

Ecker has never been interested in an autonomous, self-sufficient kind of sculpture. Just as his three-dimensional forms reach out into the surrounding space in a communicative gesture, so too does their metaphorical meaning move in ever widening circles. Three motifs that fulfill both functions are often repeated in his work: the megaphone, the spiral, and the membrane. They take on a variety of meanings, depending on how he treats them and the context in which he places them. All three appear in the works that were shown here. Megaphones are featured in Unruhe (Excitement, 1984), painted in red enamel and arranged along a rod attached to a red panel in the wall. Mounted on poles in Die Laufbahn (Race course, 1983), the megaphones assume anthropomorphic forms, while in Swing, 1983, a megaphone is paired with an iron spiral, and the two of them are displayed standing upright on the floor, like dance partners. In U-Anlage (U-site, 1986) three trapezoid-shaped metal lamps hang above three curved, rust-brown plates of overlapping sheet iron. The plates of iron are like perforated membranes, both apparatus and animal at once.

To reveal the double-edged meanings inherent in the machinery of our daily lives is one of Ecker's primary goals. He wants us to see what has become increasingly hidden from our view by technology, in the world of uniform keyboards and microprocessors, and tries to make us more aware of how that world is rendering our own eyes and ears obsolete. Projektor, 1986, combines eye- and ear-shaped metal forms that exemplify this condition. Six of these (with concave hollows perforated by a single hole at the center) are stacked against a wall, while four more (two with flat surfaces and multiple perforations, like loudspeakers, and two just like the others) are stacked one on top of the other in a stoollike metal support several feet away from the wall. Hohlweg (Gorge, 1986) was an installation of 16 large, perforated metal ears that Ecker originally hung in trees in Jenisch Park in Hamburg in 1986, and that he mounted here on the walls of a staircase. It is these ears that Ecker used as aural brackets for the various works in the exhibition, monitoring their communication with one another.

Martin Hentschel

Translated from the German by Leslie Strickland.