Alpine Art Muttersberg 

Art Trail on Muttersberg in Bludenz - Austria

Blickbank, 2018, Concrete and ceramic tiles, 45 x 45 x 180 cm

Monika Grabuschnigg’s 'Blickbank' is a site-specific work created specifically for Alpine Art Muttersberg and continues the artist’s longstanding work into the meaning, identity and cultural affiliation of objects, symbols and ornaments once they have experienced a shift or de-contextualization.
Grabuschnigg has made a concrete bench, adorned with hand-made black and white tiles, with a recurring edelweiss motif. A quote by the Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer, can be read next to the bench:

"A paradise could only exist outside of nature and such a paradise I can not imagine.”
Marlen Haushofer (* 1920, † 1970), The Wall, 1963

This classic work of dystopian fiction can be read as a searing criticism of modern living and as a paean to life working in harmony with the natural world. The novella explores the irony of man’s attempts throughout history to create 'paradise on earth' whilst failing to appreciate the paradise in which he lives.

The chequerboard pattern that decorates the bench is a design that dates back thousands of years. Seen in wildly diverse places and times, from Bronze age Iranian ceramics to 15th Century Italian art, the arrangement references the continued way in which mankind attempts to shape the space around him.

Most commonly associated with mountain tourism, the Edelweiss motif spanning the tiles explores how we construct narratives and identities and present them to the world. From the badges of the anti-fascist Edelweiss Pirates group of World War II to the emblems of both the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS, and latterly the right-wing populist party FPÖ, this small white flower denoting 'courage, bravery and love', has been used throughout history by countless groups and individuals; each appropriating the 'noble purity' of this immigrant flower from the steppes of Central Asia to their own ends. The flower thus mutates into a simple decor element on a historical pattern. Inevitable empty of meaning it becomes a symbol of alienation, something unreal in the idyllic landscape.

This subtle fusion of the physical and symbolic, industry and craft, invites the viewer to sit and consider our relationship to the world around us. How we shape it, and moreover, how we might allow ourselves to be shaped by it.

- Will Evans

Pictures by Oliver Lerch.

We drink the night with a thirst no lake big enough could ever quench, 2018
Glazed earthenware and resin, 110 x 78 x 4 cm

Consumed by forsaken gestures, 2018
Glazed earthenware and resin, 108 x 57 x 3 cm

Immersing in the cloud, there is a haze spilling purple shadows over your delightful body, 2018
Glazed earthenware and resin, 108 x 61 x 4 cm

Watching the secretive whispers fade away, 2018
Glazed earthenware and resin, 107 x 56 x 4 cm

Studio view, 2018

Left: Fading in..., 2018, glazed earthenware and resin, 104 x 53 x 3cm
Right: ...fading out, 2018, glazed earthenware and resin, 103 x 55 x 3,5cm

All pictures by Asaf Oren.

Opting out, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 50 x 65 cm

Study of an obsessive night, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 30 x 42 cm

All my body sees you in delay, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 30 x 42 cm

Gathering in fool's paradise, 2018 
Mixed media on paper, 30 x 42 cm

Grape harvest with the vaulty heaven so high above our heads, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 30 x 42 cm

One of many final affairs, repetition will disperse itself through all the veins, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 50 x 65 cm

Dawn in a transcending field with thirty-eight circles falling, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 30 x 42 cm

I tell you, this is so deep like forever, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 50 x 65 cm

Smiley people observe peculiar people pledging oneself, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 50 x 65 cm

Parting is such sweet sorrow, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 30 x 42 cm

These fumes induce a square of blissful drama, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 50 x 65 cm

Visions in a maze, 2018
Pencil on paper, 30 x 42 cm

The shadows I summoned are glorious, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 50 x 65 cm

The mask of night lingers on my face even when the brightest star sets, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 30 x 42 cm

I knew right then that I have been abducted, 2018
Mixed media on paper, 30 x 42 cm

All pictures by Asaf Oren.

What shall I swear by, 2017

So it is a lover who bubbles and who foams, 2017
Clay, acrylic paint, resin, metal and pump station, 150 x 90 x 90 cm

Calling on the moon, 2017
Glazed earthenware, platinum luster, glass, acrylic, resin, epoxy putty, concrete and metal, 213 x 63 x 48 cm

You’ve been everywhere but here, 2017
Glazed earthenware, platinum luster, glass, acrylic, resin, epoxy putty, concrete and metal, 228 x 74 x 65 cm

The series What shall I swear by (2017) probes the remains and new gestations of love and intimacy in our emotionally precarious culture, where narcissism and self-optimization, gamophobia and Xanax comprise the toolbox for encountering others. Imposing, naked, fleshy and vulnerable, the family – or threesome – of sculptures gesticulate, flirt and gurgle with desire incarnated.

Titled by a line lifted from the balcony scene of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, the intensely physical installation is arranged as a kind of modern day Globe. Swiped onto stage, viewers are invited to entangle themselves in the lines of desire crackling between the players. Once implicated, we tune in to the script that reveals capitalism as encouraging disengagement, rewarding lives lived through fantasy instead of reality (Laurie Essig); as valorizing decisions made through cold, cynical calculation instead of gut-deep impulse or emotio-rational risk-taking (Eva Illouz).

Drawing as much on pop culture as philosophy, the series is concerned with how Hollywood, Netflix and the music industry are the new arbiters of intimate thought, the new dictators of decision-making. Where previously family, religion and educational institutions delineated and (mis-)guided us through the realms of intimacy, now it is the superstructures of high-capital directing the flavors and depths of our joy and shame, our guilt and ecstasy. Sex has always sold – now so do our crushes and heartbreaks, fetishes and longings and every slippery nuance of how we attempt to live amongst and intertwine with each other.

Paraphrasing its title from a line from Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse, Fragments, the fountain work in the series – “So it is a lover who bubbles and who foams” – was created in response to the pop song Soap by Melanie Martinez. The song’s narrator admonishes herself for spilling that dirty word love, and reveals the impulse to self-punish: “I feel it coming out my throat / Guess I better wash my mouth out with soap / God, I wish I never spoke…” The video has been watched 30 million times on YouTube, with nearly 100 million plays on Spotify.

The two sculptures “Calling on the Moon” and “You’ve been everywhere but here” embody two opposing yet interdependent characters. Manifestations of “I-need” and “I-take”, they can be seen as incarnations of one being, one mind. Or, as attracted opposites, they function as a reminder of the potential beauty in messy chemistry, that ability of desire to creep unexpectedly into the otherwise overly-ordered fabric of our lives.

Overall, this corpulent triptych offers as much hope as it does critique. Our appetites and inclinations are being reduced to minable data-currency, and the courage we need to let ourselves fall is being soldered, siliconized, but in new forms and guises love as “an individual experience of potential universality” (Badiou) will always rise, always erupt, always resist. All we need are new scripts to enact. New stages to invade. New love to foam and gurgle out from the very core of us.

  • Martin Jackson  

All pictures by Asaf Oren.

Standing on the corner, 2017

Hugged in a tango, 2017
glazed earthenware, resin and steel, 13 x 42 x 82 cm

Wine and roses and magnums of champagne, 2017
glazed Earthenware, resin and steel, 28 x 29 x 60 cm

Wheel the burden through the night, 2017
glazed earthenware and resin, 25 x 25 x 61 cm

Saluting new conclusions (ghost on a hill), 2017
glazed earthenware, resin and steel, 25 x 25 x 65 cm

You looked so good in uniforms, 2017
glazed earthenware and resin, 25 x 26 x 55 cm

Pictures by Chris Grodotzki.
© Monika Grabuschnigg, All Rights Reserved.