Watch an Artist Make a One-Minute Sculpture With a Sweateron February 19, 2020 at 3:00 pm
In the hands of the Austrian artist Erwin Wurm, everyday objects become sculptural phenomena. Wurm, who lives and works between Vienna and Limberg, is best known for his extensive, ongoing “One Minute Sculpture” series, which interrogates the boundaries between visual and performance art, audience and actor, and proposes a new definition for sculpture entirely. To create the works, the 65-year-old artist provides written or illustrated instructions for viewers, inviting them to pose with wooden furniture, plastic buckets or ballpoint pens in unusual, sometimes physically strenuous, positions. The resulting contortions, which Wurm records in photographs, are at once humorous and discomforting: One sculpture comprises a performer pressing their forehead against a stack of three oranges; in another, a spectator is asked to plank their body atop a set of midcentury stools.
“Every object I’m surrounded with is a possible part of an art piece,” Wurm says, and that attitude often extends to clothing. So it was not entirely surprising that for our Make T Something series — for which participants must create something in under one hour using only some basic craft supplies, a copy of The New York Times and one item of their choosing — he selected a sweater as his wild-card pick. In the video above, the artist reprises “Psycho I” (1996), a One Minute Sculpture that was first performed for “do it,” an exhibition series of instructional artworks organized by the Swiss curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist that debuted in Klagenfurt, Austria, in 1994. To achieve the work, the artist makes creative use of both The Times and his oversize crew-neck knit. Wurm, who is concerned with the mutability of form, thinks of clothing as “a second skin” through which identity is constructed, and he likens this process to the shaping of a cast bronze sculpture: “It’s a very thin layer of bronze skin which defines the form. The inside is empty.”
While these One Minute Sculptures, which were the focus of Wurm’s presentation at the 2017 Venice Biennial, are ephemeral by nature, the artist has also reimagined them as static, physical objects. In a newer series, “One Minute Forever,” the artist swaps active participants for concrete and acrylic renderings of the human body, evoking ancient Greek busts. One piece, currently on view in the exhibition “Yes Biological” at Lehmann Maupin gallery in New York, shows oranges held by a disembodied, bone-white hand. “It’s a paradox,” Wurm says of this attempt to make a singular moment eternal. “And I like paradoxes.”