Magazine article Tate Etc.

The Imperfectionist

Magazine article Tate Etc.

The Imperfectionist

Article excerpt

A Swiss-style chalet made from bread; an excavated gallery floor; life-like wax figures that double as candles... Urs Fischer's irreverent and compelling installations and sculptures have also recently included inviting members of the public to create clay sculptures - with extraordinary results

Alongside Urs Fischer's exhibition atthe Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in the summer of 2013 was a second show at MOCA's sister gallery, Geffen Contemporary, that consisted of a 25-day art event featuring 1,500 volunteers, including amateurs and art students... and 300 tons of clay.

There are hundreds of sculptures that grow to massive proportions orcrumbleto nothing, rising as clumps and clusters or presenting themselves to our eyes as erratic individual pieces in the labyrinthine rooms and halls of Geffen Contemporary. The exhibition covers almost every centimetre of available space, including stairs, landings and door handlesan intricate, fantastical tectonic with cleared walkways. That's what the presentation of collectively exploding creativity looks like in concrete terms. With the title Yes!, the whole thing has some rather gruesome features and might at times be a little oppressive, but it's also hugely cheering and exerts a magical, even hypnotic attraction. Looking at it, one gains a quite physical idea of a joyful experience: the concentrated happiness of earth-bound sensual making.

The supervision of the "creators" (or should we call them "proto-artists"?) was typical of Urs Fischer, the spiritual father of the action. He communicated brief instructions, such as: "Everything is allowed, exceptthat the walls are to remain untouched"-

which for a few amounted toan invitation to transgress. He ensured appropriate musical stimulation, inviting the pianist Pete Drungle, a major figure on the New York scene, to play non-stop from 10.00 until 17.00 on a Steinway D piano, taking only a small lunch break. The two "chefs", Mina Stone and Alex Eagleton, provided the inspiringly sophisticated food forthe feeding of the more-than-a-thousand. Between twenty and 200 volunteers, art students or people prompted by an internet appeal or word of mouth, turned up every day.

Inside-in the sea of bodies, hands, feet, open mouths, noses, ears, octopuses, sharks, penises and vaginas, mermaids, captains, Napoleons, chained and entangled figures, rats, mice, foxes, tigers, snakes, worms, walls, coral reefs, crying babies, caricatures of, for example, Rodin's The Thinker, or things completely abstract, geometrical and even convulsively distorted, mass-miniaturised or monstrously magnified - one suddenly came across discreetly smuggledin pieces by Fischer. …

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