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Erwin Wurm: Crap Head

Fat cars and improbable sculpture from a master of improvised art.
By Zacha Rosen
February 24, 2014
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By Zacha Rosen
February 24, 2014
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He’s esoteric, abstract, kind of funny. Austrian artist Erwin Wurm is probably one of the world’s only improvisational sculptors. While other artists work in the medium of plastics or marble, Wurm works the medium of everything. His habit of quick modelling wicked sculpture from everyday objects to hand made his one minute sculptures hits in the 90s. More recently, he narrowed his family home to the Narrow House at the Austrian pavilion of the 2011 Venice Biennale. This month his work lands in Sydney with Crap Head.

The humour at Crap Head is low key. Seriousness is not Wurm’s thing. The art itself is spread across a few key motifs. Wurm links back to his overweight auto, Fat Car by casting bronze sculptures like House I and Jogging trouser from loose items of clothing. Each bulges, overweight and empty. Fat Car itself only appears as a video variation, I Love My Time, I Don’t Like My Time, which brings the car to shaky, CG life spouting slogans from its bumper.

A series of untitled sculptures stretch out jackets across looming, vertical boxes. In Untitled (2008), a rosy knit jacket sits over the figure’s square shoulders, a blue knit turtleneck protruding like a disappointed lip. The effect is satisfyingly ridiculous. Shy and pushy, its male feet point inward. It looms, malcontent.

Untitled (hamlet) works the one minute sculpture theme, pushing bottles of cleaning products through a woman’s pale dress. She looks disappointed, as thought this is seriously not the first time. The one minute sculptures themselves are represented in a One Minute Sculptures video looping through a variety sculptural improv. Wurm stalks in, composing a series of precarious constructions. He pushes planks at a wall, balances a potato on a toilet brush or sticks stuff up his nose. These are good.

Half of the appeal is watching how many of these improbable devices don’t actually fall over. Some do. For the rest, it’s the balance equivalent of Will it Blend? After each attempt Wurm leaves behind a shoe, stands on his head or just paces off screen, readying himself to compose the next.

Image: Erwin Wurm, Untitled (2008)

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