one minute sculptures by erwin wurm at venice biennale

one minute sculptures by erwin wurm at venice biennale

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 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


    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
    LOG IN
    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
    486,347 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample
    privacy policy