“Skulpturen und Objekte”

Eleven artists and artist groups took part in “Skulpturen und Objekte” (Sculptures and objects), each presenting one work. In this small, tubelike gallery, a large white pedestal was installed in the middle, and mostly small works were placed there, very close to one another. From this perspective, correspondences and confrontations could develop among the works, and they offered the viewer an overview of the possibilities for sculpture in the ’90s. Of primary importance in this ’90s nomenclature was the creation of objects without political ideology, objects that are simultaneously symbolic and concrete, hermetic and open. One characteristic here was the oscillation between competing or contradictory meanings and references. In this way art distances itself from one dominant style or affective limitation that had formerly defined what was a sculpture or what was a drawing.

Brian Reffin Smith produced a mechanical vehicle, assembled from elements similar to the child’s toy Erector set, on which colorful paper figures turned. He developed these figures on a computer with reference to a language primer which had been used in the Third Reich to instruct Latvians of German descent. The turning figures and the vehicle seemed to be a revolving Ship of Fools, reminding the viewer of the Nazi past. The fascist past was also evoked through Tobias Hauser’s bundle of twigs wrapped in leather, mounted on a three-legged stand. This work was also immediately reminiscent of a machine gun, thus combining two representations of power and violence.

Among other works, Ueli Etter showed a multiple which was made from cutting out a styrofoam form resembling an engine block. The upper half was sprayed with a red velvety substance that gave the object a cheap and questionable beauty, but also a certain morbidity. There were 30 sculpted black and white birds on pedestals by Wolfgang Müller. Resembling penguins, these birds were fashioned after one species in Iceland that became extinct in the 19th century. The last two examples of this species had been killed by ornithologists for their collection. With this work, Müller not only memoralizes the species, but calls scientific practice into question.

The artist group Susi Pop made a pink sculpture of three crosses on a pedestal. The group always works with the color pink and like Pop appropriates all sorts of products, signs, and symbols. While this pink Golgotha can be understood as a parody, it is also a potent representation of the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic. Also exhibiting were Daniel Habegger, Nikolaus Utermohlen, Gerhard Faulhaber, Kathe Kruse, Eran Scharf, and the group Die tödliche Doris (The deadly Doris). Not only did this exhibition present an overview of younger artists working today, it showed that many artists have adopted sculpture as merely one form of an integrated expressive vocabulary.

Peter Funken

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.