Urs Fischer: Paris 1919
Essay Rein Wolfs JRP RINGIER, £20
Paris 1919 is lavishly printed in full colour, oozing excess—A3 and emblazoned with a collaged clown. It is no surprise that the artist himself conceived the book—Fischer’s work is larger than life so it’s fitting that a monograph of his work should be the same.
His ‘Untitled’ (bread house) translates well in print, a huge gingerbread house minus the ginger, made entirely from bread batons and rolls. There is something sinister about it; missing the sweets and crumbling, detritus of the Brothers Grimm.
Photographs of food always work well, perhaps because we are so used to seeing them in cookery books, and here is no exception—you can feel the stale bread disintegrate as it falls to the floor. Captured in impressive installations in the opulent Institute for the Blind, Milan and the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam where the mirrored gallery multiplied the house into infinity, the perishing work has been frozen.
Included in the installation (with the same name as the monograph) at the Boijmans Van Beuningen were other earlier works including ‘Airports are like Nightclubs’, 2004, a robotic arm that coyly brushes a rubber forehead and synthetic blond wig. In the mirrored installation, themes of vanity are heightened, the viewer becomes a part of the work and the relationships between the individual pieces are intensified. Rien Wolfs, curator of the museum and author of the accompanying text is quick to point out that the mirrored room is a ‘variation on the modernistic White Cube and the more recent Black Box’, but whether this ahistorical context could supersede the work itself is debatable. Curiously, the text appears last in the book rather than first as you might expect, its large print size giving it the feel of a child’s book, complementing its comical, outsized form.
Fischer’s approach is hands-on. Although his work is considered new ‘pop art’ he has traditional sculptural values, working frankly with his materials to reach outcomes that are distant from the methods of his contemporaries. His unrestricted approach lacks a signature style—freeing the art making process, he makes what he likes. Continually surprising, Fischer’s work is funny sad and ugly beautiful. Above all, it’s of the moment.
Steven Cairns is assistant editor of MAP.