Markus Schinwald: LENTOS KUNSTMUSEUM

Article excerpt

It was only last year that Markus Schinwald transformed the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale into a labyrinth open to the feet and closed to the gaze, but the Lentos Kunstmuseum in Linz recently also put on a compelling exhibition of this artist's work. The exhibition hall, a heroically scaled space of 8,600 square feet and a good eighteen feet in height, is like the parking garage for the Batmobile, and it suited Schinwald's purposes perfectly. The pathology of uncomfortable spaces and the syntax, emotional undercurrents, and psychological aspects of empty interiors have often given him the impetus for his complex installations.

A continuous raised walkway led through the entire exhibition, functioning now as a stage, now as a viewing platform, sometimes creating a barrier or squeezing visitors up against the wall, then becoming a staircase or a pedestal to be clambered over. Walls of varying height and sunken floors marked out the terrain of separate groups of sculptures, while dropped-ceiling elements defined a space for him projections. The architecture here functioned as a prop for the gaze, a spatial prosthesis, regulating perception, helping visitors find the best viewing positions. It was fascinating ro observe the way Schinwald's dramaturgy ot light and shadow caused the show's visitors to double as actors on a stage, performers compelled to submit to his direction. These spatial constraints led at times to physical contortions not unlike the gestures and positions assumed, tor instance, by the actors in the artist's video Ten in Lore, 2006.

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The show began with an early series based on hybrid clothing. Schinwald's dysfunctional, unwearable shoe styles, like the heelless hum Heels, I 997, or his siraitjacket tied elegantly in the back, bear witness to our conflicted relationship with the body and the role clothes play as wearable prostheses. …