Ethics demonstrated in geometrical order
New York, 536 West 22nd Street
Known for his pristine, yet tongue-in-cheek sculptures that defy the hierarchal systems in art history, the Austrian artist Erwin Wurm celebrates the twentieth anniversary of his One Minute Sculptures series with an exhibition at Lehmann Maupin, prior to the Austrian pavilion unveiling of the series during the 57th Venice Biennale. Elevating the audience interaction to maximum heights, these semi-utilitarian sculptures reach their full existence only human upon participation.
Explained within a strictly clear manual through Wurm’s own words or drawings, each engagement requires full commitment to these directions on the participant’s end. Through contorting, bending, and flexing their bodies, participants unite with Wurm’s decorative-looking sculptures that blur the line between function and futility. Positioning their human components in bizarre and antisocial situations, the sculptures not only complicate fixed societal notions on modern life and domesticity, but also question typical rituals of viewing art.
While Wurm’s use of a strong word like “ethics” refers to the 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, whose seminal text Ethics manifested the emergence of The Enlightenment era understating of human agency and autonomy, the artist aims to question the aesthetic and figurative extents of sculpture in terms of mimicking the reality. “The human body does not only mean the physical body, but also the psychological and spiritual and many other layers. Even the house is a part of our body: it protects. We have skin, the second layer is our clothes and the third layer is the house or car, which protects. These are all part of the human entity,” said the artist in a 2016 interview with the Berlin Art Link about his interactive and time-based sculptures.
The exhibition runs though May 26, 2017.