Eva Grubinger

Eva Grubinger

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt

SPARTACUS, 2007 Installationsansicht
Foto: Norbert Miguletz

December 1, 2007


60311 Frankfurt, Germany
phone: (+49) 69 29 98 82-0
fax: (+49) 69 29 98 82-240
welcome [​at​] schirn.de


With its exhibition “Eva Grubinger: Spartacus,” the Schirn continues its programmatic focus on current contemporary positions. Jan De Cock’s spectacular new installation “Denkmal 7″ inside and outside the Schirn was the last work presented in this series. For “Spartacus,” Eva Grubinger also makes use of the Schirn’s specific spatial context, positioning her works in three places: in the rotunda and on the “table” (a concrete structure) outside and in the cabinet within. A wire-netting fence surrounds the lower floor area of the rotunda and the observation tower in its center. On the table, which is also fenced in, two stands face each other threateningly, while another piece of fence and a harsh spotlight bar the visitor’s way in the cabinet. In “Spartacus,” the artist, who was born in Salzburg in 1970 and has been living in Berlin since 1989, again dedicates herself to manifestations of power and impotence, of observing and being observed. Her installations are formal abstractions of complex modes of social communication. By means of allegorical compression, they visualize spatial, psychological and medial representations of power.

“Spartacus,” the title of the exhibition, recalls one of the earliest revolts in history, the uprising of the Roman slave and gladiator of Thracian provenance and his army against the ruling social class which still operated in full possession of its representative and symbolic power. 2000 years later, the technologies of power have become more sophisticated in multiple ways, emerging, as Foucault put it, “from the king’s sun and entering modern society’s various institutions of discipline.” In the 1970s, Foucault based his concept of modern disciplinary society on the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s (1748-1832) Panopticon design, which represents the core pattern of an observer who is in control without exercising power by subjecting the “inmates” to their own control.

Foucault interpreted this structure as a symbol of modern societies’ principle of order. The Panopticon tower has left Bentham’s architecture and spread extensively in multiple new technologies: video surveillance, mobile telephony, Internet, satellite systems, etc. Being observed and disciplining oneself has become a single operational context that does not require a superior authority to guarantee compliance to society.

Eva Grubinger’s works are also to be seen against this background of the apparently clarified relationship between the observer and the observed. For the exhibition in the Schirn, the artist has created three space-related installations for inside and outside the building which explore the regulating and disciplinary functions of public institutions and structures such as prisons, sports arenas, or museums. Every such place represents a defined territory with rules of its own which are nevertheless directly related to the public sphere. Enforcing these rules produces architectures and objects exercising their influence on the individuals and their behavior.

The cage-like walk-in installations on the table, in the rotunda and the cabinet of the Schirn oscillate between urban terrain and some kind of prison yard. A recurring black wire-netting fence dominates the presented triad and transforms the places into a Suprematist deployment of line, circle, and square. Fence and cage constitute a border that allows gazing through. The square fenced-in installation on the table is comprised of two stands facing each other. The observer watches the observer. Wire-netting fence surrounds the rotunda with the observation or lookout tower in its center. In the cabinet, visitors are separated from the spotlight blinding them by another piece of fence. The urban architecture of the installations illustrates the context of constraint and control.

The three black coated steel objects or object groups establish different gaze relations in regard to the viewer. The stands on the table between Römer and Cathedral attract looks from outside. By contrast, the tower in the rotunda is oriented inside-out. The fence surrounding the tower at some distance resembles a cage from which the gaze breaks free from its elevated position and takes in the surroundings. The third situation levels the relation. The glaring light behind the piece of fence does away with both border and observer. Thus, the only conventional exhibition space of “Spartacus” destroys all conventional relations possible between viewer, work, and environs.

Since 1994, Eva Grubinger has presented her works in numerous group exhibitions such as in the MUMOK in Vienna, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, the Charlottenborg Konsthall in Copenhagen, the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, and the Berlinische Galerie. She has shown solo exhibitions in various international galleries, the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, or the KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki. Eva Grubinger has attracted international attention with her solo presentation “Dark Matter” in the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead (GB) in 2003, in which she translated her long-term exploration of social systems of control into an impressive precise architectural form. Recently, she exhibited a both fascinating and alarming work on the omnipresence of communication in today’s world in the Kunstfenster des Kulturkreises der deutschen Wirtschaft in the B.D.I. in Berlin — a work whose aesthetics, like that of “Spartacus,” reveals the influence of Minimalism and monochrome painting.

CATALOGUE: “Eva Grubinger: Spartacus.” Edited by Matthias Ulrich and Max Hollein. With a text by Matthias Ulrich. German/English edition, ca. 50 pages, photographic documentation of the installation at the Schirn with numerous color illustrations, soft-cover, to be published after the opening of
the exhibition.

DIRECTOR: Max Hollein

CURATOR: Matthias Ulrich

SPONSORS: The exhibition “Eva Grubinger: Spartacus” is supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture.

OPENING HOURS: Tue., Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m. -7 p.m., Wed. and Thur. 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

INFORMATION: www.schirn.de

PRESS CONTACT: Dorothea Apovnik, phone: (+49-69) 29 98 82-118, fax: (+49-69) 29 98 82-240, e-mail: dorothea.apovnik@schirn.de www.schirn.de (texts and images for download under PRESS).

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