Sunday, 19 September 2010


Gregor Schneider, German sculptor, inherited his family house in Reydt and this became the site of major reconfigurations and rebuilding. Visitors to the house or Haus u r spoke of rooms built within rooms, evidence of the false wall spilling out like guts for them to see. Or a glazed window that had a brick wall behind it for a view, or crawl spaces through which to get to another room. One room spun when you were inside it, delivering you to a different part of the house on your exit. I visited Totes Haus u r at the at the Venice Bienalle in 2001.For this he transported 150 tons of the Reydt house, 24 of the original rooms, brick, doors, frames, staircase and rebuilt a dwelling of sorts within the German Pavilion. Again in this space Schneider left the evidence of his DIY but this did not undercut the uncanny tension. What he created wasn’t just a mental puzzle, but this home was something more cloying and sinister. Visitors could go in groups of ten, signing in I felt a trepidation that I might not leave. The main trigger for this unease was the smell, old libraries, basement cupboards, garages, a stale inexplicable human odor. Fine touches like air holes bored into the doors of locked cupboards, both suggested old larders but also the site of Poe torture chamber. The decor, mostly white walls, red floors, basic furniture called up images of a soft room in a mental institution.

Schneider could have just finished the work by making these gestures of building and rebuilding. In this way it would be hard to see him as just artist, but more obsessive compulsive eccentric. But many gestures are the result of careful orchestration and the expectation of an audience. It’s a fun house with scares, reference to gothic literature and film and phantasmagoria sideshow. But not in a stylish way, more in a way that goes back to the idea of the obsessive compulsive persona at the heart of the activity. He is more like a teenage boy waiting for Mum and Dad to return from work, who might unknowingly turn there attention to the bucket of stagnant water under the kitchen sink, and be a bit freaked out by the prosthetic disembodied hand floating on the surface. This is picked up on in his work Die Familie Schneider, a work in Whitechapel London 2004 with Artangel.

More to follow

No comments:

Post a Comment