Erwin Wurm is an artist who has made a globally recognised autonomous contribution to an international trend – to the performative turn in the field of sculpture and to sculpture as a form of action. Photography and video have become sculptural media, and sculpture itself an object of utility. Classical sculpture was a three-dimensional object on a pedestal. First, Wurm reinterpreted and processed the classical criteria of sculpture – volume, weight, structure, gravity, form and mass. He took people and their actions with everyday objects in unusual positions, which they would only be able to hold for a short period of time, and locked them into position using photography. These one-minute-sculptures became famous; he involved the public in the designing of the sculpture and transformed sculpture into an open field of action. He then provided the public with different instructions and let them create sculptures in the museum space. Public participation is necessary, their actions shape the form of the art. In a subversive manner, Wurm encourages the individual to participate in social action. Instead of passive consumption, you have active art. In precarious times marked by crises, such a turn of culture can release energy within a society that has the potential to solve conflicts. Again and again, Wurm has proven that he can find an answer to contemporary moods and social conditions in images and objects – in a genuinely artistic manner, sometimes sublime, often philosophical. In his work, which revolves around an extended
definition of the term sculpture, encompassing very different materials and media, Wurm refers explicitly to international avant-garde traditions, in which provocative and daring approaches are always sedimented. In his most recent groups of work, it is possible to see a countertransference of insights into action sculptures onto static objects. He has thus succeeded in creating spectacular signature works such as the house on a house and the boat on the roof of a house. With his architectonic interventions and large-scale sculptures, particularly in public space, Wurm has succeeded in opening up new possibilities in the field between sculpture and architecture. Wurm’s often playful work is more than just an aesthetic strategy. The over-sized police cap from 2010 is more than simply a biographical reference to his father’s job as a policeman; it is also a precise, sculptural translation of the topics of authority and surveillance. The lack of space in a lower middle class family was transformed perfectly into sculpture with his Narrow House at the 2011 Venice Biennale, attracting much attention. All his works hint at a critical, analytical consideration of the concept of sculpture and its media: he straddles the boundaries between object and performance, architecture and design, sculpture and photography, artist and public, meaning that his work also provides a broad basis for reflection on social and cultural questions.