Erwin Wurm. The artist begging for mercy.

Preparing in the Pálffy Palace

Erwin Wurm, an Austrian multimedia artist, will present an exhibition in the Bratislava City Gallery, the focus of which will be his most extensive and world-famous One Minute Sculptures series. Today is a time of crossing borders in all directions in art, but Wurm managed to do something unique – a strong artistic gesture that can appeal to a wide audience to the extent that it sometimes even penetrates the world of pop culture. Thus it co-creates the visual horizon of our civilization.
Erwin Wurm, The artist begging for mercy, 2002
Erwin Wurm, The artist begging for mercy, 2002
Erwin Wurm started from a conceptual exploration of sculpture, which expanded in several directions in his artistic approach. Most often, there was a penetration, a fusion of sculpture and performative art – he himself uses the term performative sculpture. This includes his largest ongoing series One minute sculpture. Performative sculpture requires some kind of record, and photography is best suited for this purpose. Photographs are a record of performances, but they are a momentary materialization of living sculptures – that is, people with occasional props that change from project to project and always create new meaningful configurations. A peculiar version of endurance art is actually emerging. According to the instructions, drawn and or written instructions, people become part of the game, which for a short time, one minute, fully occupies them and at the same time entertains them and the people around them. It would seem that after the artist has given out the tasks, he can have fun too. But appearances are deceiving – he himself is not exempt from this process, and even sometimes it is him, with his mouth gagged, who begs for mercy. Only when viewed from a distance do these momentary living sculptures create a disturbing image of contemporary civilization – the interaction of people and things from their immediate surroundings, which, however, are not available, are not fully in their power and cease to control them, or are able to handle them for one minute.
Wurm's idea of a world with uncertain, melted contours, in an unstable, semi-liquid state is also manifested in his three-dimensional works. Enlarged castings of the so-called achievements of contemporary civilization do not maintain their shape consistency and cease to be usable, soften, are as if melted, or swell, gain weight, literally fatten before our eyes. Wurm comes with the vision of an artist who has swallowed the world. Therefore, the exhibition collection of photographic records, drawn and written calls to action are complemented by sculptures, mostly from the latest Concrete series.
Aurel Hrabušický
Organisation of Love. 2007. Städel Museum, Frankfurt, 2014.jpg
Erwin Wurm, One Minute Sculpture, 1997