Conversations with stone representations
Drawing on Egyptian and Greek mythology, the revived Mannerist sphinx of the late 15th century became a fixture of decorative outdoor sculpture in 18th-century palace gardens. There are more than 20 of them in the gardens of the Upper Belvedere in Vienna. In the course of our conversation, surprisingly, it turns out that they are not decoration at all, but a collective of artists.
Bust Talk–Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophical philosophy, is definitely an elusive figure, revered by some, despised by others. His work vacillates between philanthropy, elitism, and even racism.
In architecture, the Atlas statue is a larger-than-life male "bearer" of a load-bearing architectural element, so named for the Titan of Greek mythology, who had to carry the vault of heaven. My interlocutor was deprived of his actual function and placed in a dark corridor in the lower Belvedere. What does this de-functionalization do to someone who was used to constantly showing off his strength and resilience?
Bust Talk–Alexander Ecker
The bust of scientist Alexander Ecker was taken down some years ago, because of his scientific involvement in colonialism. Alexander Ecker not only made an intellectual contribution to racial theory, but also amassed an extensive skull collection, which is still stored inaccessibly in Freiburg. Some of the skulls demonstrably originate from a context of injustice, for example from the concentration camps of the former colonies. Howeber, the ghost of Alexander Ecker ist still present and looks rather relaxed at this conflict and is all the more enthusiastic about our present scientific abilities.
Exhibition view, Kunstverein Siegen, 2023
Bust Talk–Die Ausschauende [The Looking Out]
A conversation with "Die Ausschauende", an anti-war memorial that ostensibly commemorates the war widows of World War II. The conversation revolves around the theme of mourning and the dubious privilege of female statues to publicly represent mourning.
In 2014, the so-called Illumina statue was damaged by unknown persons and remains in this condition today. Since then, the statue has been missing its head; the Illumina has become ‘the decapitated’. In preparation for the discussion, possible answers of the statue to the artist's questions were found in collaboration with a group of people from Freiburg: Birgit Heidtke (Feminist history-werkstatt), Sévérine Kpoti (HereandBlack), Oliver Matthes (FREIeBÜRGER) and Dieter Roeschmann (Municipal Comission Art in public Space).
Bust Talk–Hans Klöpfer
Hans Kloepfer was a doctor and local poet and is still an important identity figure in Styria today. But he was also a convinced National Socialist and that from the first hour. Nevertheless, a bust of him stands on the Schlossberg in Graz, among other places.
Exhibition view, Sperling, 2021
A conversation with an East African Songye mask that has been in the possession of Kunsthalle Emden for several years. As a matter of fact, the provenance of the mask is unclear.
This conversation took place with an anonymous woman sitting on the grave of Johann Jakob Bachofen. Bachofen is the author of The Mother‘s Right a controversial book about how an early matriarchy evolved into a culturally superior patriarchy. Our conversation is not only about Bachofen, but mostly about the appearance and use of allegories within statutes.
Bust Talk–Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven is known as a great composer. But he also had a keen interest in economics and was concerned a fair payment. The conversation with Beethoven not only revolves around these economic questions, but also leads to the idealistic value of artistic work to society.
Exhibition view, Sperling, 2021
Bust Talk–Josef Werndl
This two-part series of Bust Talks took place at the Werndl Memorial in Steyr. Josef Werndl was an Austrian arms manufacturer and an important figure in early industrial capitalism. He saw himself as a social capitalist, as he invested in education, medical care and the infrastructure of his workers and his region. But can something be social if profit is part of it? The Werndl monument itself illustrates the core of this economic system much more honestly: it is based on oppression and social inequality.
Bust Talk–Der Arbeiter [The Worker]
The second part of the Bust Talks series at the Werndl monument - this time with one of Werndl's workers. The conversation is about the failure of the social democratic movement in the 20th century and how to counteract the greed of the capitalistic system.
*In 1953 Marcel Duchamp proposed a witty equation: A Guest + A Host = A Ghost indicating a somewhat magical merging of the two figures of hospitality into an entity between the self and other.