Stefan Bohnenberger

Paszti-Bott Galerie

Today we know that even the most profane object can be lifted into the auratic clouds of the sacred realm. Of course, the question arises of how this transformation occurs, and it is precisely this process that Stefan Bohnenberger explores in his works. The cross has reappeared constantly in Bohnenberger’s work: first made from real potatoes and hung on the wall with a simple nail, then cast in gold and presented on a pedestal, and finally hung in a small box and only visible through a peephole.

Since then Bohnenberger has continued to use boxes for his everyday objects; these are illuminated by a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The viewer is perhaps better able to intuit what is in the box than actually to see it. But one aspect is clear: the atmosphere is that of a sacred space. In this exhibition he created a box that filled the room with purple velvet. At eye level there are 30 holes through which one can see small works of art that were lent to Bohnenberger by many artists including Walter Dahn, Johannes Muggenthaler, and Perejaume.

One walked along the walls and looked through the holes into small spaces in which the art works were displayed—objects, small paintings, and photographs, which together functioned as a kind of medieval reliquary. Bohnenberger has continued to question at what point an object transcends the boundaries of the profane. The interior of a small box is always separate from the day-to-day; it is an imaginary space that becomes real only when one looks inside, though the size and depth of the space is deceptive. From the outset, this illusory, unattainable space is filled with a sacred aura, remaining beyond our grasp.

Noemi Smolik

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.