about the exhibition
New Works 12.1
March 21–May 20, 2012about the artist
Florian Slotawa creates spaces and alternative economies that often connect and confuse the realms of material culture and art and their respective values. In his early years as an art student, he asked, “What is there left to make when there is already so much stuff in the world?” Aware of excess, he questioned the necessity of his own possessions. As a cathartic personal exercise, he began to bring all of his belongings into the studio for installation, including items left at this parents’ house or gifts and things kept in storage. The ontological practice seemed to assert: “Here I am, at this time and place”-much like the work of conceptual artist On Kawara, who made this textual declaration in postcards decades before.
For Slotawa, material culture, and specifically his own personal possessions, represent a rich, recyclable resource for sculptural forms and installations. Before the idea of an ecological footprint, he was already tracking what this meant concretely in his daily life in Berlin. His belongings, in their new role as “art,” found new functions and performative qualities and iconography. In one museum show, he mapped out Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment in piles of personal objects; for another, he created an even more abstract work, inspired by Piet Mondrian’s Pier and Ocean. Throughout his process, he photographed aspects of the exhibition and re-installed these images to provide new angles into their carved-out space. Eventually, his continual practice responded more specifically to the received circumstances with which he was presented. In a museum project in Switzerland, he invited the director to displace her entire collection of personal possessions, thus challenging the hierarchy of artist and institution. More and more, his work dealt with museum collection strategies and curatorial functions, as well as the art market, in unusual ways.
about the exhibition
For Artpace, Slotawa endeavored to draw parallels between two cultures and their respective forms by using materials found locally. Struck by Texas’s own role in the history of Minimalism, he was interested in symbolically connecting to an historical European female figure-1930s Russian sculptor Katarzyna Kobro-by creating a co-habitation with the works of Donald Judd and the Texas landscape. Constructivism being one of the important antecedents to Judd’s own sculptural practice (which was only later termed Minimalism by art historians), Slotawa brings these pieces into a kind of a posthumous conversation. His process began in Poland, where he gained permission to make provisional models based on fragments of Kobro’s work out of metal. Upon arrival to Texas, he proceeded to build the metallic models, collect found furniture from around the office at Artpace, and drive back and forth to West Texas in order to view a conversation with the Judd legacy, as well as with the flora and fauna of the area (another local form). The final installation is a merging of these experiences, perspectives, and formal dialogues meant to create more expansive, equivocal parameters for sculpture and the natural environment.