Hot Artists Under 35 at Art Brussels
Extract of press release - interview with Michael Sailstorfer : Ph J : For the show at the gallery you are also working with the iconic Statue of Liberty. Is there a relation with the fact that Bartholdi was a French Sculptor or it just come out from the idea to change this iconic image as you are doing with the Warhol piss paintings? Michael Sailstorfer : On my way from Berlin to the countryside in Brandenburg I stopped at a place that sells second hand construction materials. They had this 2,5m tall aluminum cast of the Sculpture of Liberty in their garden next to fragments of soviet monuments, old bathtubs and parts of the Berlin wall. I decided to buy the sculpture and had it in my studio for quite some time... Planning my show for Galerie Perrotin in Paris I decided to show it there, as the real sculpture was a French present. I liked the idea to take it literally and use the sculpure as a big drill to perforate the gallery walls. I think the idea was not to change the iconic image but to see what this iconic image or the word ‘Freedom’ can be used for and what connections could be made. Ph J : As for older sculptures you like to associate a ready made with a electrical combination. I see a close relation between “If I should die in a car crash" it was meant to be a sculpture”or “Zeit ist keine Autobahn” and the Statue of Liberty sculptures? M S : It is not primarily about the electric device. It is about playing with ready-made that carry certain references. Those references and ideas are put into new contexts through small shifts or transformations. Sometimes a motor and a plug are needed to get this working, sometimes an angle grinder is enough. For example when a police car is transformerd into a drum kit. “Drumkit” 2005. And of course there are close relations between the new Statue of Liberty sculpture and previous pieces such as “If I should die in a car crash it was meant to be a sculpture” or “Time is not a motorway”. In “Time is not a motorway” a car tyre, powered by an electric motor, grinds against the gallery wall and gets used up during the exhibition period. The floor fills with rubber dust and in the whole gallery you can smell the burnt rubber. This piece is about time. Getting older and getting grey hair... It’s hard to talk about the new Statue of Liberty sculpture as it is still in production and I haven’t seen it in real. But it is about freedom, in many ways... But I have an other idea about the electric motor in some pieces. It gives the piece a timeline...makes the piece perform, without human power,...and thus the sculpture is humanized and becomes the performer on the stage, the white cube... Ph J : The title of the show and also of your second sculpture is “Freedom Fries am Arbeitsplatz” makes me think of “Honigpumpe am Arbeitsplatz” by Joseph Beuys. Is this reference on purpose ? M S: “Honigpumpe am Arbeitsplatz” is one of the most important artworks for me and a lot of his ideals are present in this piece. The title and also formal decisions in my piece are references to “Honigpumpe am Arbeitsplatz” . This piece conceptually and formally frames the whole show. “Freedom Fries am Arbeitsplatz” might be read as a 2013 reflection on Joseph Beuys political ideas and where we see us today.
Image rights: Courtesy Galerie Perrotin
Michael Sailstorfer’s site-specific interventions emphasize transformation and challenge conventional rubrics of sculpture. He gives objects new meanings and functions by reconfiguring, though not deconstructing, them. Much of Sailstorfer’s work involves breaking down an object to reveal its physical components, as in the case of Zeit ist keine Autobahn (Time is not a motorway) (2005). The work features a spinning, motor-powered tire pressed against a wall; as the tire wears down, rubber particles collect on the floor and the scent of burning rubber fills the installation space. Sailstorfer cites the site-specific, performative work of Gordon Matta-Clark as a key influence, and says he is “interested in what sculpture can be and how a sculpture can spread out and use much more space than it physically has.”
German, b. 1979, Velden, Germany, based in Berlin, Germany
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