Erwin Wurm (AT)

Erwin Wurm - Untitled (Abstract Sculptures) (2018)
bronze, lacker
194 x 100 x 59 cm
courtesy Taddaeus Ropac, Londen, Parijs, Salzburg, Seoul
photography Gert Jan van Rooij

His work is often downright comical. Like a traditional sculptor, Erwin Wurm (b. Bruck-an-der-Mur, Austria, 1954, lives in Vienna and Limberg) is fascinated by volumes, the human figure, abstraction and figuration. But the forms his works take are always surprising. In addition to bronze, wood and ceramics, he also works with polyester, metal and textiles. With all his sculptures, he playfully criticises our consumer society.

Wurm is perhaps best known for his One Minute Sculptures (1997–present), which he performs all over the world. Visitors are invited to become a sculpture themselves for one minute by performing all kinds of absurd actions, such as putting their heads in waste bins or sticking asparagus up their noses. His famous work Narrow House (2010) is a house less than one and a half metres wide. All the rooms and the entire interior have been shrunk to match. This work is based on the house that his parents had built in the early 1970s, and it conveys the oppressive atmosphere of post-war Austria. His series Fat Cars (2001–2004) is also well known, in which beautifully gleaming full-size vehicles are distorted to such an extent that they appear to have rolls of fat. In these works, Wurm takes aim at materialism and our desire for status symbols.

Wurm has previously been a guest of Lustwarande: in the 2008 edition, Wanderland, he placed a stack of three aluminium potatoes in the park, the middle one in sexy, red lace panties, to create Id, Ego and Superego (2008), a comic reference to the psychoanalysis of his compatriot Sigmund Freud, who stated that the ego is the realistic part of the personality, which mediates between the desires of the id and the superego.

For STATIONS, Wurm showed a work from his Abstract Sculptures series, in the marshmallow-pink colour for which he is known. These are hilarious sculptures of sausages, assuming recognisable human poses with their sausage arms and sausage legs. This particular sausage sculpture looked a little flirtatious, challenging, one foot forward, hand on its hip and seems to be saying, ‘Look at me!’ Or even a little aggressive, about to launch into a verbal attack. Because it was not just a sausage, it was a veal saussage, a delicacy. Wurm considers the sausage to be a culinary icon of the German-speaking countries. It was everyday fare during his childhood, and to this day he associates the sausage with the social norms of his childhood years in Austria. The materiality of the bronze is in stark contrast to the triviality of its form. This is typical Wurm: familiar and strange at the same time.

Erwin Wurm – Id, Ego and Superego (2008)
Lustwarande ’08 – Wanderland
photography Dirk Pauwels