Unholy matrimony


bronce, excavator
Size varies

Commissioned by Flacc, Genk (BE)

„ …The shovel project goes back to an earlier work by Lutz-Rainer Müller Me me me in history (2008), and recalls the idea of digging with bare hands in order to make a sculpture out of the earth. A new and collective version is derived from a recent experiment by the two artists that seeks to reinvent the functionality of a mechanical shovel by exploring its sculptural potential, while simultaneously proposing a sharp reflection on the concept of labour, handwork, and collaboration. The very notion of artefact acquires dignity and value as a symbol, or rather as a monumento of historical, social and economic events, resulting from precise origins and activating connections between international contexts and systems of production and trade. Stian Ǻdlandsvik and Lutz-Rainer Müller dug a hole into the soil with their bare hands, then filled it – the negative form – with liquid plaster cast directly into the earth, blindly attempting to give the object the shape of a shovel. This plaster cast was then copied in Bronze. The use of bronze clearly refers to the classical sculpture of ancient Greece – of which the Riace bronzes (460–420 BC) are the most emblematic and remarkable examples. While the statuesque body is depicted finished in all the muscular elasticity of the so-called contrapposto stance, the work of Lutz and Stian evokes an idea of a body ‘beyond the body’, whereby the physicality is only inferred by extension, echoed, showing traces of human labour in the process of digging and creation. This project, as a result of individual artistic practices, is part of a broader research on the essence of material, much closer to Ǻdlandsvik’s Self-consuming bastard (2012) and the series Metal Cloud (2010). The imperfect surfaces of their recent work suggest the yearning for a new and more materialistic language, and aims at understanding and interpreting this material as the final product of human manipulation. Here again, William Morris, in his Art and Labour, argues that indeed “in the Middle Ages everything that man made was beautiful, just as everything that nature makes is always beautiful; and I must again impress upon you the fact that this was because they were made mainly for use, instead of mainly to be bought and sold as is now the case. The beauty of the handicrafts of the Middle Ages came from this, that the workman had control over his material, tools, and time.” …“

Carmen Stolfi (excerpt from Get off my back. Why can’t a tree be called Pluplusch? about the work of L+S)