Düsseldorf

Felix Schramm, Accumulator 1, 2011–12, drywall, wood, metal, filler, polyurethane, acrylic paint, soil, glass, 98 3/8 x   109 x 54 3/8".

Felix Schramm, Accumulator 1, 2011–12, drywall, wood, metal, filler, polyurethane, acrylic paint, soil, glass, 98 3/8 x 109 x 54 3/8".

Felix Schramm

Galerie Max Mayer

Felix Schramm, Accumulator 1, 2011–12, drywall, wood, metal, filler, polyurethane, acrylic paint, soil, glass, 98 3/8 x   109 x 54 3/8".

To encounter the new work of Felix Schramm is to go down the rabbit hole. His latest exhibition, “Accumulation,” consisted of three sculptures and a number of photocollages, all of which destabilize the relationship between viewer and sculpture by constantly altering scale. Though they represent a departure from Schramm’s previous large-scale sculptural interventions and his less familiar quasi-figurative polyurethane castings, these new works incorporate aspects of both, leaving the viewer uncertain of his or her relationship to the object. Much like Lewis Carroll’s hookah-smoking caterpillar, the works ask us to account for ourselves, demanding not “Who are you?” but “What are you.”

Hastily painted and constructed with his usual cheap industrial materials, any of which can be obtained at a standard hardware store, Accumulator 1, 2011–12, the major piece in the show, suggests the facade of a ramshackle apparatus. Unlike many of Schramm’s best-known earlier works, Accumulator 1 is a self-contained object that does not touch or interact with the ceiling or walls of the space in which it is installed. But it is hard to get one’s bearings on just what one is looking at, because from each angle, the perspective changes, and with it the impression of the scale and materials of this mutant sculpture. On one side of it, there is what looks like a little door, through which can be seen a quasi-diorama of an interior, a kind of architectural maquette. On another side, a series of small-scale models for the artist’s architectural sculptures rest on shelflike protrusions. Another sculpture sits atop a crate, while next to it appears a small casting, an example of some of Schramm’s more recent works: objects that resemble the human figure yet don’t correspond to any specific aspect of anatomy. Accumulator 1 acts as a display device for smaller works, or models of works—sculptures within a sculpture. Finally, a number of photocollages adorn the walls surrounding the behemoth. Each is made from photographs of the structure itself, so that while viewers look at the work, the object—or at least its photographic images—encircles them. But if we consider the collages a part of Accumulator 1, in a sense, one is inside the sculpture while looking at it.

Nothing in Schramm’s work provides any indication that he desires to leave Wonderland. One of the two works in the back of the gallery, Malleable Structure, 2013, involves similar self-reflexivity and transformations of scale. The work sits on the floor, while on two of its flat surfaces, a video is projected that depicts hands putting together another of Schramm’s sculptures. In many ways, these new pieces seem to aspire toward becoming a summation and condensation of the artist’s previous work, charting the directions he has gone in and those he could still try, much like working notes. Schramm’s self-reflexivity, however, is more than some bland metasculptural comment on either his métier or his process. It is also a rather sincere—or at least direct—question posed to the viewer, whose own scale vis-à-vis the sculpture appears to be constantly shifting: He seems to be asking us, through the haze of hookah smoke, to take account of how we relate to what we see.

Aaron Peck