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.