• Review

  • February 11th, 2015 02.11.2015

    Krüger&Pardeller: 21er Haus


    …I think art is a vice, like other things, a passion, a passion that becomes a vice which doesn’t primarily consider who it should satisfy, except the creator himself, who is tantalized by the guilty pleasure of passion… Fritz Wotruba

    The voice of the Austrian sculptor Fritz Wotruba emanates from a crackling old tape-recording in the installation Homo Faber – A Spatial Audio Play in Three Parts by Krüger&Pardeller. The Austro-Italian artist duo’s exhibition at the 21er Haus in Vienna addresses diverse questions concerning artistic production, focusing on two discrepant approaches that it places in juxtaposition: on the one hand, the idea of art as action—a social process with an inherent political component—and on the other, the idea of creating an esthetic object as the goal.

    The title of the exhibition Homo Faber, which literally translates to man the creator, evokes various connotations—the most important being the use of the phrase in philosophical anthropology, the 1957 novel of the same name by the Swiss writer Max Frisch, and Hannah Arendt’s seminal work The Human ConditionVita Activa, published in 1958. According to Hannah Arendt, Faber, a term that originates from Latin (to make something), was initially the designation for the fabricator and artist who worked with hard materials, such as stone or wood. In The Human Condition Arendt argues for a tripartite division of human activities: labor, action and work. The latter is the category assigned in Homo Faber, picturing the artist as a designer of new artifacts.

    As you enter the exhibition through construction of wooden boards, the space opens up into a three-part installation. In the first, Fritz Wortruba’s (1907-1975) small stone sculptures are placed on board walls partially covered with wallpaper with enlarged historical photographs on it; another small sculpture sits on a pedestal. The sculptor’s voice is heard coming from a slightly elevated creature-shaped speaker, talking about the creative process and the artistic transposition of individual experiences; it says: “I think, … I make stones speak. Each material is numb, deaf, raw, … each material has to get a voice…”

    Wotruba is considered an essential figure for modern sculpture of the 1950s and early 1960s. In his work, Wortruba dissolves figurative elements into geometric abstraction, using the cube as a new starting point for creation. Through Wotruba, Krüger&Pardeller reflect on contemporary relations within historical positions beyond their aesthetic references, while questioning the meaning of Arendt’s definition of Homo Faber.

    As Wotruba’s recording pauses, another voice is heard across the installation, from the other side of the room. A conversation forms. The interpolated poetical text by Krüger&Pardeller comments on the sculptor’s narrative. From the central piece within the second part of the installation, a yellow stage with a computer on a blue table and another identical speaker, Krüger&Pardeller colligate their own view of art as an act of critical production through the sculptor’s approach.

    The space becomes the setting for negotiation.

    The third component of the installation is a piece composed by musician Daniel Riegler, made by overlapping the frequency spectrum of Krüger&Pardeller’s and Fritz Wotruba’s recordings. The piece, played from a third identical speaker, is this time located in the center of the installation, intercepting and interpreting the dialogue between the artists on either end of the gallery.

    A conspicuous wire running from the table in the second part connects the three speakers that embody these individual positions—a sculptural representation of three people conversing.

    Homo Faber – A Spatial Audio Play in Three Parts by Krüger&Pardeller at 21er Haus, Vienna runs through April 26, 2015.