Christoph Rütimann

Galerie Ryszard Varisella

Employing disparate mediums, Christoph Rütimann creates situations that put physical laws and familiar semantic relations to the acid test. Gravity is often the springboard of his considerations. In Le rideau à trois (The three-way curtain; all works 1990) Rütimann built a curtain out of so-called “pocket balances”—the small, suspendible scales one finds in grocery stores. In the current piece, a variant of another work, which he showed at the Mai 36 Galerie in Lucerne, the balances are suspended in columns between the floor and the ceiling. The three strings of 12 scales each create a curtainlike architectural effect by partitioning off the space. The individual scales all indicate more or less the same weight, as the gravity and the resilience of each virtually neutralizes the next.

For Rütimann, scales are instruments not only with specific form but also with the capacity to indicate forces that are invisible to the human eye. Within this piece, one can visualize the interplay of forces within the sculptural arrangement. In another work, Rütimann built a stairway of household scales consisting of 26 strata, with each level reduced by one scale to create a step. Here too, the forces impacting on the various elements of the piece are readable. The scales at the bottom of the columns, forming the top step and therefore carrying the heaviest load, indicates a much greater weight on its gauge.

Words silk-screened directly on the walls structured a corner of the exhibition space in the gallery. The words “denk” (think), “mal” (just), “so” (like this) formed a grid that generated various almost paradoxical semantic possibilities according to the direction in which they were read. The viewer could, for example, read “mal so mal so” (now this now that) or “denk mal so” (just like this) or even “denkmal” (monument).

The fourth piece in this show consists of photographs of two wheelbarrows flanked by shots of chaise longues grouped in mirror symmetry and partially concealed by snow. The bluish white coloring of the photographs and the snow-covered objects lend the triptych a contemplative quality. In these cold temperatures, the objects are useless, perhaps even forgotten. Stripped of their functions, they have become photographed sculptures. Furthermore, the two wheelbarrows in the center picture are piled up; one carries the other. This mental model, reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp, which is characteristic of Rütimann’s work, surprisingly combines surreal alienation effects with dematerial strategies associated with Conceptualism.

Justin Hoffmann

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.