Nicole Wermers. (Reviews: Hamburg)

By Jahn, Wolf | Artforum International, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Nicole Wermers. (Reviews: Hamburg)


Jahn, Wolf, Artforum International


PRODUZENTENGALERIE

With her "French Junkies 1-11," 2002, a series of sculptures about two and a half feet high, Nicole Wermers has brought the public ashtray into the gallery as an object both useful and aesthetic. In the form of tall columns, rectangular towers, cubes stacked together like steps, or vitrines, the "French Junkies" evoke costly design objects and lifestyle accessories. Their materials--copper, aluminum, wood, plastic, glass--playfully evince the combinatorial taste of their time. Venetian blinds cloak one sculpture in an apparently regal skin, while another suggests a stylized and slender kimono. Each is topped with an orthogonal or round bowl filled with bright sand, the last resting place for the remains of cigarettes. And the gallery public overcame its fear of transgression and made use of what was supplied. Still, there are a lot of inhibitions to get past before one sticks the butt end of a fleeting enjoyment into a sculpture presented so aesthetically. Although Wermers has taken the public's reverence for art into account, her combination of high and low is not played out as a contrast between elite and mass culture, but rather in the incomprehensible application of something manifestly elegant for use as a receptacle for trash.

Wermers gained attention with her hermetically sealed wooden boxes, sculptures that could only be looked into from above. What unfolded within them was like an image of chaos. Highly detailed models of shop interiors had seemingly been placed in the path of some immense destructive force. Mirrors, fluorescent tubes, interior appointments, and shelves looked like they had been heaved into the air by a tornado and then tossed on the floor. …

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