Lehmann Maupin is pleased to announce Erwin Wurm’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong. For this exhibition, the Austrian artist who has redefined the categories of sculpture and performance art will premiere recent sculpture and photography from his most iconic series. Each week, visitors will be invited to activate one of Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures by mimicking a unique pose with a typical household item, with the durational sculpture captured in a Polaroid photo that may be taken home. This exhibition represents the artist’s return to China after nearly a decade since his 2010 solo exhibition at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. There will be an opening reception for the artist on Monday, March 25, at the Pedder Building, from 6 to 9PM. Erwin Wurm will also be featured in the Lehmann Maupin booth (1C21) at Art Basel Hong Kong, opening March 29 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Wurm has produced a body of work that explores the exciting possibilities of sculpture, pushing the boundaries of this static art form to incorporate participatory, temporal, and psychological elements. As an artist, Wurm is interested in conditions that test the limits of form and evoke the absurdity that can be found in the routine and mundane actions of everyday life. For Wurm, all forms, including our own bodies, can be considered and activated as sculpture. Famous works like Fat House (2003) and Fat Car (2001) exemplify this point, making our most iconic architecture and design susceptible to the biological processes of a human body, in this case the visual effects of gaining weight. Wurm will also often attribute human traits to inanimate objects, by giving human appendages to luxury handbags or moss-covered boulders as a way to demonstrate the socially reinforced implications that these objects hold through enticing anthropomorphic forms. For this exhibition, Wurm has produced new cast metal sculptures from his Abstract Sculpture series, depicting sausages with human features that highlight the absurdity behind common references or figures of speech. These works hint at both the cultural associations of the sausage and the Bavarian region he is from, as well as the form’s relationship to the body as a phallus. This psychological extension of the self onto objects, and vice versa, is a critical component of Wurm’s oeuvre, in which he uses humor and the projection of human emotions and ego to hint at deeper, more existential issues.
Wurm’s interest in the absurdity that can be found in mundane scenarios of daily life has deep roots in his One Minute Sculptures, which were the focus of Wurm’s presentation for the Austrian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. These sculptures require a participant to enact simple yet outlandish poses with an object for one minute. The precision with which the participant is able to execute the pose determines the success of the sculpture, which exists for only its enacted duration, and in the original photographic documentation. Despite its title role in the series, the actual timeframe of one minute is less important than the participant’s awareness and reaction to the time passing while enacting the sculpture, and their own experience of being on display as an artwork. In this regard, this series democratizes a medium traditionally used to commemorate significant, historical figures. Wurm’s work thus challenges this long-standing function by allowing any individual to become a work of art. In addition to the opportunity for the public in Hong Kong to engage in their own One Minute Sculptures, a series of Polaroid photographs depicting Wurm and others enacting them will be on view.