Six artists - Phyllida Barlow, Alexandra Bircken, Michael Beutler, Vincent Fecteau, Anita Leisz, and Kimberly Sexton - illustrate the broad spectrum of contemporary sculpture. Their works share an artistic process, which is sparked and formulated by the materials used. The objects are characterized by the acts executed during production: the enveloping, tearing, folding, bending and compressing of the materials involved. They also have a reserved to humorous eccentricity and a love of experimentation in common.
Since the 1960s, artists have increasingly distanced themselves from the autonomous sculpture. Artists like Richard Serra and Robert Morris confronted the artwork as a commercial object with the process and act of its creation. This ambivalent approach to the object found its continuation in institutional critique and contextual art. Today artists no longer consider these act as ends in themselves, but they select these rather with regard to their social and cultural connotations. References to the act and production is articulated differently by each artist.
Michael Beutler processes his 'resources' - meaning his basic materials such as paper, wood, fabric or glue - into spatial modules that sometimes generate spaces one can enter. Because the necessary apparatuses for these do not exist, he builds them himself: cogs for folding paper, gluing devices for connecting metal and fabric, wooden constructions for bending mesh wire, etc. These highly specialized, manually operated apparatuses are also exhibited. His 'environments' look like pre-industrial, temporarily abandoned workshops. They give the impression that the work process could be continued and the installation could be expanded on.
Phyllida Barlow also establishes direct contact with the viewer. She examines the question of how an object is observed, which perspectives are facilitated and which are blocked, and to what extent the impact of an object is determined by the manner in which it is presented. Phyllida Barlow's contribution to the exhibition incorporates the architectural and social framework of the location. At the entrance to the exhibition the artist places a stage made of painted wood and Polystyrene that opposes the visitor, forcing him or her to find a way around it. This object is followed by a collection of standing and lying columns and column fragments coated with cement. These are reminiscent of the columns on the facade and back of the Haus der Kunst
creating a kind of landscape of ruins.
In her work "Columns" (2005/2011) Kimberly Sexton explores an art historical model: the "Splashes" and "Casts" by Richard Serra. For these works, which Serra began creating in the late 1960s, the artist splashed heated, liquid lead into the corners of interior spaces. Because of the temperature of the liquid material, the creative act could only be controlled partially. Kimberly Sexton counteracts Serra's emphatically masculine production process: Her casts of corners are made of hydrocal white - a specific type of plaster, more elegant and refined -, and are very fragile. The moulds are organized in groups of four suggesting pillars. Their inner sides contain gestural painterly markings made with a spoon. Taken as a whole these aspects - minimalism of form, treatment of materials, psychological connotations, inclusion of graphic elements - attest to a conceptual approach.
In the minimalistic tradition Anita Leisz addresses the fundamental question of format, volume and weight in her exploration of a work's placement within a space. Her objects are upright blocks made of materials used for the construction of interiors, such as plywood and sheetrock, and are usually open at the top. They differ from each other with regard to proportion, openings, traces of use and the cut of their edges. They all remain within a given range of sizes and weight that are manageable for Anita Leisz. The body becomes the benchmark here. It is particularly the partly minimal differences that give each object its unique character. This is emphasized by graphic interventions, such as a streak of black lacquer on a gray-white surface. By positioning the objects in relation to one another Anita Leisz opens the possibilities for social constellations.
Alexandra Bircken comments on societal role models by using materials and their handling with an awareness for their cultural significance. She works with easily available material found in nature like twigs and leaves and with objects found at flea markets or in her own belongings such as a discarded cog gear and tank bag (SOULUTION, 2010). The knotting and twisting of wool, wire, cord and rope create the connection between these elements, each of which has a specific lifespan and value. The strength of these works lies in the precision with which the materials trigger certain associations when viewed; buoys and coils of rope call forth different associations and role models than do strands of real hair, a bright yellow woolen skirt or an over-sized tampon (Alexandria, 2010).
Vincent Fecteau is represented in the exhibition with medium-sized papier-mâché sculptures and wall works that he has produced over the past five years. The sculptures' multitudinous perspectives are extremely pronounced. An object's outline and shape is completely different from each angle. The viewer can only truly experience the sculpture by walking all around it. The wall objects also have no main view. The back can become the front. The starting point for every wall object is a cardboard tube, which serves for hanging.
Vincent Fecteau models the forms in a long process. By painting the works in muted colors other materials, such as wood and ceramic, are feigned. Vincent Fecteau is interested in sculptures that invite the viewer to see and understand their shapes free of references.
The exhibition catalogue with installation views will be published by Hatje Cantz beginning of December; it includes a foreword by Okwui Enwezor, and texts by Deborah Bürgel, Patrizia Dander, Anette Freudenberger, Zoë Gray, Michael Lobel, Julienne Lorz, and Daniela Stöppel; 128 pages, German/English.