erwin wurm and brigitte kowanz are representing the austrian pavilion at the venice art biennale 2017. curated by christa steinle, the presentation highlights both artists’ use of installation to extend the notions of sculpture and space. while their contributions are very different from each other, they have been united to function together as a whole.


stand quiet and look out over the mediterranean sea, 2016 – 2017
performative one minute sculpture | truck, mixed media | h 874 x w 240 x l 274 cm h 344 x w 94 1/2 x 107 3/4 in 
photo studio erwin wurm © pretty, vienna 2017

 

 

the exhibition marks the 20th anniversary of wurm’s ‘one minute sculptures’ — action based art that requires the participation of the public. sculpture is turned into a performative and time-based medium. in venice, wurm uses the image of car — one of his favorite subjects of transformation — to tackle the theme of mobility in relation to the current challenges of mass migration.

erwin wurm venice art biennale
guards stand at the entrance to the austrian pavilion on opening day 
image © designboom

 

 

outside of the austrian pavilion at the venice art biennale, wurm has installed a semi truck vertically, which seems to precariously balance on its grill. titled ‘stand quiet and look out over the mediterranean sea’, visitors are asked to enter the structure through a staircase, and meander through the dark and narrow loading area to arrive at a viewing platform. overlooking the giardini’s landscape of national pavilions, viewers are then invited to realize and perform the ‘one minute sculpture’ by following wurm’s instructions. 

erwin wurm venice art biennale
guards ‘block’ the entrance to the pavilion 
image © designboom

 

 

climbing up and into the immobile truck allows visitors a threefold spatial experience: of body, machine and media. the psychological experience of space can range from the confinement of an elevator, to the vast expanse of a prairie, evoking corresponding emotions — the sense of imprisonment, or the feeling of freedom. given today’s global migration movements, the psychological and political dimensions of space become more relevant than ever. 


visitors are asked to follow in-situ instructions to create ‘one minute sculptures’ 
image © designboom

 

 

inside the pavilion, wurm has placed an old fashioned caravan from the 1970s, riddled with holes, cut-outs, and various constructions protruding from it. ‘just about virtues and vices in general’ echoes the idea of living space as a perforated place, where smartphones allow us to take part in events without physically being present. objects scattered throughout the pavilion bear written and visual instructions that advise visitors on how to enact the ‘one minute sculptures’. 


the caravan is paradoxically confined within the space
image © designboom

 

 

the caravan becomes a cross between a dwelling, and a car — mobility and immobility. a caravan that is paradoxically confined within a space — the austrian pavilion — has had its purpose removed. in this way, visitors and performers experience both ‘settledness’ and ‘nomadism’, calling on their own social and psychological experiences of ‘home’.


legs jut out of holes cut from the side of the caravan 
image © designboom

 

 

sculpture is meant to produce spatial experiences, but the idea of a ‘spatial experience’ has changed. the old engagements — as with classical sculpture — were body-centered, while new encounters are centered around machines and media. the automobile is the main reason for the shift in meanings between mobile and immobile — hence why it has become one of wurm’s favored mediums of expression. wurm’s oeuvre as a whole reflects a response in the transformation of spatial experience from being body-based to machine-based.


small drawings and writings act as visual instructions
image © designboom

 

 

follow our dedicated instagram account @venice.art.biennale for live coverage of the exhibitions, installations, and events in venice.


the sketch instructs visitors to place their arms and legs through the caravan’s holes
image © designboom


‘just about virtues and vices in general’ echoes the idea of living space as a perforated place
image © designboom


viewers are asked to step inside the caravan and enact more ‘one minute sculptures’ 
image © designboom


inside the mobile home, drawings and writings are inscribed on the walls
image © designboom


a drawing prompts visitors to put their backside through a hole in the caravan 
image © designboom


a visitor enacts a ‘one minute sculpture’ 
image © designboom


instructions advise visitors to sit and lie on the stools  
image © designboom


a participant places his head on a plinth beneath an oversized lamp 
image © designboom


‘roast yourself under the sun of epicurus’, the caption reads
image © designboom


a visitor engages with a sculpture placed on the wall 
image © designboom


participants are asked to place their arm through the whole and lean on the object
image © designboom


a chair on the wall reads, ‘stand straight, use the parachute’ 
image © designboom


a visitor to the pavilion enacts the ‘one minute sculpture’ 
image © designboom


‘drift away’, reads the instructions on the suitcase
image © designboom


visitors are prompted to sit on the device and raise their arms in the air 
image © designboom

 

 

[main image] 

just about virtues and vices in general, 2016 – 2017
performative one minute sculpture, contribution austrian pavilion
mixed media, caravan, furniture pieces | h 245 x b 205 x l 592 cm | h 96 1/2 x b 80 2/3 x l 233 in | unique
photo by eva würdinger © bildrecht, vienna 2017

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