glazed ceramics with burned-in letters (Heisenberg formula), pedestal and display case
140 × 41 × 41 cm
Inv. No. 0181
The Kunsthaus Bregenz, a masterpiece by the architect Peter Zumthor, confronts artists with considerable challenges. The high rooms with their exposed concrete walls – a kind of opera stage for the visual arts – call for generous gestures and monumental effects. When Ingeborg Strobl was asked to present her work there in 1999, a “chamber musician” was invited – an artist who prefers small formats and delicate nuances and rejects dramatic pomp in favor of a poetry of casualness.1 Strobl tackled the task in a twofold way: on one of the floors, she arranged twenty-five showcases on pedestals in a strictly geometrical order – a room-spanning solution on the one hand and a device to protect her works’ intimacy on the other. The works in question consisted of assemblages of small oddities that had accumulated in Strobl’s “cabinet of curiosities” over time: natural and artificial objects, sheets inscribed with texts, all kinds of treasures. Now and then, works by her own hand, such as miniature watercolors, appeared amidst the display. With such an array of materials at her disposal, Ingeborg Strobl composed temporary sculptures. The artist commented on the exhibition: “Every showcase is a world of its own, literary in a broad sense, and sculptural in a narrow sense.”
Ten years later, the EVN Art Council inquired whether it would be possible to purchase some of the object collages that had been on view in Bregenz. Strobl decided for a mixture of reconstruction and rearrangement. It turned out necessary to manufacture new showcases that would lend the displayed bric-à-brac the aura required to raise triviality to art. Even if the components of the poetic affinities of her choice often appear to be banal, the associative combinations are never left to chance. Strobl virtually celebrates the selection of objects, which always boils down to a meticulous, fastidious process. And even if her titles suggest irony and easygoingness, the artist ultimately addresses the big themes, such as the relationship between “nature” and “artificiality,” the criticism of consumerism and methods like industrial livestock farming practiced by today’s society or the keen observation of everyday life, from which cultural techniques, aesthetic details (such as typographies), or familiar materials constantly disappear.
In a larger sense, the works acquired also deal with fundamental issues of exhibiting, “art and presentation,” so to speak. This especially holds true for one of the small sculptures (the “sculpture” almost dissolves, whereas a notion of it remains), consisting of the sober and succinct arrangement of a newspaper article and a piece of painted wood. Frequently, the titles appear somewhat weird. Some of them, like Allgemeine Physik [General Physics], suggest that all the works by Ingeborg Strobl are always about everything under the sun. The main point is the tension that arises between a work and its title. Physics and ceramics: in this context it seems worth mentioning that the artist is familiar with phenomena related to the natural sciences (such as the weather and cattle breeding) and that her career as an artist began when she studied ceramics in Vienna and London in the 1970s. Even if the three showcased arrangements make a scant impression: at least one of them, containing almost a hundred (yet extremely small) watercolors, means a substantial addition to the collection. Let us not forget to mention EVN’s Christmas card for 1997, for which Strobl juxtaposed a genuine fir cone with a matching Christmas tree ornament. This was likewise a temporary sculpture, if only for the time when it was photographed.
Wolfgang Kos, 2011 (translation: Wolfgang Astelbauer)
1) Ingeborg Strobl. Einige Gegenstände. Und Sonnenuntergang, January 30 – April 5, 1999, exhibition at the Kunsthaus Bregenz.Continue reading
Pride and Prejudice. Art and Craft – A Love Story, Universität für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna, 2023
Small Medium Large. Sculptures and Objects from the evn collection, evn sammlung, Maria Enzersdorf, 2022
Wallpaper #1, evn sammlung, Maria Enzersdorf, 2018
Pride and Prejudice. Art and Craft – A Love Story (Exhibition Booklet), Vienna 2023, p. s. p.