erwin wurm: 'narrow mist' at UCCA
erwin wurm: 'narrow mist' at UCCA erwin wurm: 'narrow mist' at UCCA
jul 20, 2010

erwin wurm: 'narrow mist' at UCCA

‘narrow house’ image © designboom



erwin wrum: narrow mist ullens center for contemporary art (UCCA), beijing july 17th to september 15th, 2010




with each of his new works, austrian artist erwin wurm reinvents the vocabulary of sculpture turning it on its head. using simple materials, mundane objects, wit and written instructions, wurm invites people to interact with his art, transforming spectators into active participants, encouraging them to poke fun at the paradoxes of contemporary society. designboom just visited erwin wurm’s interactive exhibition ‘narrow mist’, on show at the UCCA in beijing, which presents sculptures influenced by childhood houses, fashion fetishes an ‘stuff’ you can find in the chinese metropolis.

outside the ‘narrow house’ image © designboom



within the UCCA’s nave, one encounters ‘narrow house’, a home that is modeled after the one that wurm grew up in. the abode may look like a funhouse, but the installation raises questions about having our personal space constricted, restricted or invaded. inside there are narrow chairs and tables, narrow bookshelves lined with narrow books, a narrow sofa and narrow rooms which have been covered with a distinctly 1970s-style wallpaper.  so is the house charmingly slender, disturbingly tight or claustrophobically close? wurm invites visitors to enter the house and have the chance to walk through it to decide  for themselves.

a perspective view of the ‘narrow house’ image © designboom


with subversive playfulness and an appreciation of human curiosity, wurm draws his audience in,  making them part of his creative process: ‘I want to address serious matters, but in a light way. I want to reach more than just an elite circle of insiders. if you approach things with a sense of humor, people immediately assume  you’re not to be taken seriously. but I think truths about society and human existence can be approached in different ways. you don’t always have to be deadly serious. sarcasm and humor  can help you see things in a lighter vein.’ – erwin wurm

letters to erwin wurm about the exhibition:

dear mr. wurm, if I can’t fit in your narrow house, is it all right if I peek through the windows?  -xiao pangzi

yes, why not? it’s possible. or maybe if you go in the house, you’ll get stuck in one of the rooms. I can’t make any guarantees you won’t get stuck.

dear erwin, are your box statues anatomically correct? if not, how do you tell the male boxes from the female? I tried looking under their clothes, but it was really, really hard to tell.  -name withheld

at the moment, there are just male boxes, no female boxes. don’t ask me why – I have no idea. an inner voice told me just to make male boxes.

dear creator, I need to access the internet. would it be possible to install broadband in one of my rooms, or would it have to be ‘narrow-band’? please advise.  -the narrow house

no, you can install normal-band because the narrowness is just related to the house, for this specific work, this specific house. I’m not going to force other things to be narrow.

inside the ‘narrow house’ image © designboom

narrow phone image © designboom

visitors making their way through the narrow hallways image © designboom

narrow furniture in the narrow living room image © designboom

even the artwork hanging on the walls is narrow… image © designboom

the bathroom covered in 1970s wallpaper image © designboom

view of the bathroom image © designboom

narrow toilet image © designboom

narrow shower, toilet and bedroom image © designboom

narrow bed image © designboom

narrow closet image © designboom

narrow dining room image © designboom

narrow tables and chairs image © designboom

image © designboom


in the institution’s adjacent exhibition hall are wurm’s standing box sculptures.  dressed in sweaters, suits and prêt-a-porter, these boxy figures seem a lot like use,  almost human, if only they weren’t so…square.

image © designboom

image © designboom

image © designboom

image © designboom

image © designboom

image © designboom

installation view of the standing box sculptures image © designboom

‘take the rubberband and play the ‘international song’ with your teeth image © designboom


a third section of the exhibition is a continuation of wurm’s playful one-minute sculpture series, drawing on objects from beijing. he provides instructions for visitors on how to interact with these selected items, through writing or drawing on the floor and wall of the gallery, and asks them to take a photograph of themselves to preserve the sculptural moment forever.

‘be a shell for one minute’ image © designboom



erwin wurm was born in bruck an der mur, austria in 1954. since the 1980s, he has been expanding the concept of sculpture and delving into thezeitgeist, approaching subjects which are all too often dealt with an serious manner.  he has had solo shows around the world including the MUMOK, vienna; the palais de tokyo, paris; the contemporary art center, cincinnatti; and most recent the städtische galerie im lenbachhaus, münich.he currently lives and works in vienna.

  • This looks interesting but I prefer the works by Wurm which focus more on the human body as a material for sculpture. To me the one-minute sculptures are his best pieces.

    [url=]Infinite Night[/url]

    Infinite Night says:
  • Hey, does this house make my butt look big?

    Mushi says:
  • Haha great !! Funny when you live in a big city such as London, Paris, Tokyo ….

    Bull says:
  • angosciante segno di questo periodo .

    faust says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

art news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
502,531 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample