Erwin Wurm: Hello Seoul!
1. Erwin Wurm's popular series of ephemeral and participatory sculptures that emphasize the importance of viewer's engagement with works of art as a necessary agent for their completion
2. The 'One Minute Sculpture' theme was also the focus of Wurm's presentation of the Austrian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale
Austrian artist Erwin Wurm rose to prominence in the early 1990s with his One Minute Sculptures, an ongoing series of works where the artist provides instructions to participants to perform awkward poses with everyday objects―a theme that was the focus of Wurm’s presentation for the Austrian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. This translated into the essence of his practice: investigations into ephemeral and participatory sculptures that comment on the importance of a viewer’s engagement with works of art as a necessary agent for their completion.
With Beanie, Wurm takes a familiar object, a winter hat otherwise known as a beanie, and enlarges it to an exaggerated proportion. The public is invited to stand under Beanie, engulfed by it, and to consider the emotions felt, whether a sense of protection, fear, or something else. When questioned about the use of clothing in his work, Wurm has stated: “What I like about working with clothes is how you can hide form, hide a human being under it. You can make it abstract and take personality out by hiding the body. In my One Minute Sculptures I was able to create something which does not look human at first sight.” In other works such as Stone, human feet are added to the bottom of a stone, a weighty mass that stands in for the human body, and in One Minute Forever (hands/fruits), a concrete cast of a disembodied hand with an orange and lemon pushed onto its fingertips, the participatory nature of Wurm’s work becomes immortalized. These works encapsulate paradox and contradiction between the immobile and the mobile, a tension present in much of Wurm’s sculpture.
Also featured in the show is Sigmund Freud’s Geburtshaus, a new sculpture that is part of Wurm’s Houses series, which he considers portraits of key historical figures. Cast in bronze, the home of Austrian Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, appears billowed, organic with an undersized roof―the architecture and form is attacked as a metaphor for manipulating histories and those who have shaped them.
Wurm’s practice can be characterized as portraits of society that offer an implicit social critique of contemporary culture, emphasizing the banality of the everyday as well as challenging and extending the possibilities of sculpture. As the artist says: “My main interest has always been to address sculptural concerns and the relationship to the human body. I am interested in dissolving realism and in doing so, my work has become more and more abstract. I am interested in the paradox of this...Artists have the ability to reflect in the best way the particular moment in which they are working and to address the concerns and issues of our time.”