Vienna-based sculptor Erwin Wurm has a history of using whatever objects and materials are at hand. In the early days, it was because he couldn’t afford to buy them; his first sculptural works were therefore made of wood, because he lived above a wood shop, and the next batch were made using cans and buckets (because he had moved near a factory that produced them). These images are from his “One Minute Sculptures” series, begun in the late 1990s, in which the works themselves have been created on the spot using whatever objects, participants, and backgrounds were available.
The improvised nature of the images, populated by ordinary people and everyday objects, declare the fun, playfulness and spontaneity that must have gone into the making of each picture. The interesting thing is that, in spite of this, there remain darker connotations of assault, warfare, and ritual violence. Perhaps it is the co-existence of the imaginative, child-like activity alongside those more unsavoury allusions that makes them so unusual and engaging.
The One Minute Sculptures redefine the concept of sculpture into one of dynamic act rather than static object. Wurm’s sculptures are wrought from the human body, choreographed into absurd, witty and often perilous, relationships with objects of everyday life – a man lying squeezed under a Barcelona chair, a banana peeping out of a man’s trousers, a man balancing two bottles of detergent on his toes, or two men balancing brief cases between their knees and chests. One Minute Sculptures can happen anywhere, anytime: on a street, at home, in a hotel. Riven with a sense of imminent failure, each sculpture exists for barely a minute, before gravity triumphs, everything collapses, and the only thing to remain is a video or, in this case, a photograph.
In the series ‘One Minute Sculptures’ by Erwin Wurm viewers are asked to do more than merely look at the museum artworks surrounding them, but to experience the artworks and themselves in new ways. In the form of drawings or brief written directions, the visitor is instructed and encouraged to become an artwork – a ‘One Minute Sculpture’ – for the duration of sixty seconds.