Monumental Fatigue

22 Nov 2014 - 24 Jan 2015

Exhibition view
Hannah Weinberger, Heidi Bucher, Magali Reus, Virginia Overton, Yorgos Sapountzis
Freymond-Guth Fine Arts, Zurich CH
22 November 2014 — 24 January 2015

The exhibition displays five artistic positions that respond to the term of monumentality and sculpture in the field of architecture, history and public space in very different ways. In doing so, they however less follow an interest in a sublime effect of external dimensions or the charging of historical relevance, nor do they claim terms such as eternity or universal significance as their motif. In general, the exhibition does not go along exclusively with an interest for sculpture in its classical sense, but draws the reference to monumentality among others also in a work character that involves both exhibition space and audience and in some cases dematerializes the sculptural body entirely and only leaves it recognizable as a trace- for example of sound, light or strongly alienated imagery and haptic qualities.

The classical monument as a symbol for social status or political power which aims to put the viewer into a condition of humbleness and emotion or that is being understood as an expression of artistic virtuosity is being juxtaposed with positions that emphasize on a more subjective orientation, which may be motivated biographically or a result of a conceptual confrontation with material, time and space and their complex levels of interpretation. Moments of dissonance, dynamics and evanescence are shaking the sculptural body and liberate it of its monumental freezing.

Hannah Weinberger (*1988) and Yorgos Sapountzis (*1976) are looking into cultural and public set-pieces, which they sample and rearrange. Weinberger uses sound and rhythm elements, which she finds on the internet as open source files, accessible for everyone. Sapountzis takes photographs of sculptures in the public space and applies them onto panels of fabric, textured with ribbons. In both works it‘s always about public inclusion, collective in a broader sense, which becomes the backbone of personal formulation. Whereas Sapountzis stages processionlike happenings under the participation of the spectators in his performances, Weinberger uses among other things sounds, produced by exhibition visitors and general public as parts of her composition. Therefore their works never evoke an overwhelming impact, despite involving exhibition visitor and venue, but rather they seem to aim at dissolving the separation between staging, space and audience. Showroom and visitors are transforming into resonating bodies, oscillation and echoes amplify or get absorbed completely. Sapountzis panels of fabric are hanging like flags or banners of a manifestation in the room, only loosely put together with pins. They seem improvised and ephemeral and carry traces of pictures and movements on them, particularly visible in the works, which are additionally furnished with aluminum panels, on which dents of the artists‘ body are visible and through which he applied cloth and images.

A central moment in the exhibition in general is the personal trace and the past of materials as an alternative draft to the historical context of public monuments. For example the sculptures of Virginia Overton (*1971) are made entirely from found objects that are of precarious temporariness similar to Sapountzis‘ works: leaning on to, stacked or loosely put next to each other. Overton juxtaposes the almost fragile impression of her installations with the origin of the individual elements: using often worn out materials that could be found on any construction site they stand for stability, balance and endurance. Even the marble used in various works that seems unusually precious and refined, is mainly to be understood as a reference to the sculptural material of the wealthy and powerful, a noble surety of importance and perdurability. Overton pairs those chunks of marble with light bulbs and in doing so also draws a bow to their origin that are all lamp bases which were made popular by designers such as Castiglioni in the 1970ies. While the bases‘ function was to stabilize the lamp construction, the naked light bulbs in their old fashioned brass or porcelain sockets seem unprotected and raw. Their light both provides warmth as well as it gets lost in the space, it is compositorial centre point and yet ungraspable, fugitive.

Magali Reus (*1981) produces works that at first sight too are evocative of coincidentally found left overs of everyday, serially produced consumption goods- of foldable plastic chairs, pots, toilet seats or like those works shown in the exhibition remind of fridges. These forms are often additionally supplied with refined details- bits of liquids, fast-food or packaging, aluminum cans- and trays, rubbish bags or disposed utilities like they are to be found in any urban setting of the world: plastic cutlery, bands, tarps or batteries. Other details seem like mysterious insignia, fragments of writings and imagery, hieroglyph-like forms of a long lost legibility. These works staged with greatest care however emerge quickly as far from trashy ready-mades as possible- much to the contrary every fragment is produced in complex work processes in the minutest details. Through that Reus not only inverses the values of work and production. But much more and in minimalist tradition, she sets traps of an alleged past of objects and therefore goes beyond the signification of the monument as a symbol and cultural relict. Reus works are highly artificial fossils, they celebrate material, perfect surfaces and their signification in a state of outmost stress and on the verge of dissolution.

The works in latex by Heidi Bucher (1926 -1993) are at the same time witnesses and documents of a debate on the very personal and intimate space. All of the works shown in the exhibition are casts of architecture and interior fragments, surroundings which were charged with her family history, to which she also refers in the title of the work cycle „Ahnenhaus“ (House of ancestors). Surfaces and rooms were covered with liquid latex and when dried „skinned off“, through that preserving forms and structures of the original, which Bucher at times also used mother-of-pearl pigments on in order to give them their nacreous color. Heidi Bucher’s works are both monumental in their dimensions sometimes consisting of entire rooms and at the same time they are very light shells, liberated from their heavy (family-) history - an impression also manifested in the 16mm movie in which a so-called „Skinroom“ fixed with bars is being carried out of the ancestors home and through a city or staged as a lose body in a building pit or a park.

Tags: Heidi Bucher, Virginia Overton, Magali Reus, Yorgos Sapountzis, Hannah Weinberger