For its first participation to the Reflections section of Vienna Contemporary, Backslash is pleased to present a project with American artist Michael Zelehoski's work, whose monumental installation Open House just entered the collections of the Pompidou Center.
The artist works on the objects he finds in the streets or abandoned houses like the numerous ones in Detroit where he often goes. He dismantles the different stratums of ladders, warning signs or parquet floors, for examples, and then brings them back to life, taking on a new and ingenious perspective while retaining the works' planar forms and causing viewers to question what they are seeing.
The booth will present Athanasia, one large installation of four panels, an evocation of a columbarium that confronts us with the notion of death in architecture or to the architecture for death. Two large scale works give rhythm to the structure of the booth and are completed by a series of small works, hanged on one single line, like the shelves of Donald Judd, a major inspiration in Zelehoski's art.
The act of transformation is a critical component of the artistic process. Its expression is found in Zelehoski’s denial of an object’s original, three-dimensional structure, and his subsequent establishment of the object’s authenticity as both concrete and abstract. In effect, the artist considers the history of the object itself as a primary element in the contemporary experience of his sculpture. The artist’s vernacular and found objects directly engage the domestic and urban environment, and introduce a significant discussion on the nature of relationships among the viewer, the object and the body.
Deeply influenced by his studies at the Universidad Finis Terrae (Santiago de Chile), Michael Zelehoski lived many years in South America and worked there with different major artists, such as Felix Maruenda. Since then, his researches have been strongly marked by Latin American artists.
A constant dialogue between several influences has emerged from this double education: European moderns (including Picasso’s cubist collages and Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades) and American masters (from the “Combine Paintings” by Robert Rauschenberg to the “Black Paintings” and “Shapes Canvases” by Frank Stella). The conversation also refers to Arte Povera, especially with the importance granted to the “poor materials” found in the streets.
This solo presentation of Zelehoski's work will be the first ever in Austria.