Shopping windows steeped in aura, high-luster sculptures many meters high, mysterious settings – in his work, Andreas Schmitten engages in a play with the fetishized world of things. The tempting allure of an iridescent world is stripped of any functionality in Schmitten’s work. The spectator is engaged in a process of immersive consumption. Drawn in by consciously implemented strategies of staging, he is ultimately confronted with a void and forced to rely on himself and his own perception.
The larger-than-life sculptural installation “Prop No. 3,” gleaming in red and white, rises like an altar. Enclosed by a brightly illuminated encasing, it structures the room like a scenery that has yet to be defined. The basin-like shapes at the foot of the sculpture seem distorted, as if reflected in a fun-house mirror, making the work appear unreal and timeless. Difficult to grasp in its opulence and its high gloss material, it stages a space that leaves location, time and function undefined.
There are two figures in a glass cabinet. The object on the left gestures towards various possible means of utilization, ranging from stoup to urinal. The hinted-at, abstract head, directly connected to the pool construction, appears alienating. The head is turned towards a second object. This figure too is reduced to an abstract, geometric design vocabulary which rather veils than reveals meaning. The two objects are framed by a background that looks like a closed theater curtain and that negates any and all outlooks and contexts.
The mysterious figures and settings remind us of the known, yet resist direct associations and leave us with a feeling of fascination and distancing coolness. They cause confusion and visibility beyond the standard perspectives and consumption habits. Which mechanisms of perception are directly or subconsciously addressed and via which forms and structures are they made visible? The first luring appeal yields to the realization that it is still possible for art to not be oriented towards function, utility, worth or efficiency. Thus, the works on display repeatedly oscillate between engaging catharsis and Brechtian distancing effect. What is staged is the staging itself.
Text: Janine Blöß (König Galerie)