The KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Arts presents 9 enigmatic sculptures, each a different composition with the exact same elements – scaffolding, board, blue net, purple strap, bucket, 20 cent coins, ball, and video – by Sofia Hultén (1972, Sweden).
The works on show in the Maschinenhaus M0 are not wildly individual and appear entirely self-referential. In one permutation the scaffolding might be built up high, on top of the board with the strap draped over a ledger. In the next the scaffolding might be half as high with the strap stretched around it and the board positioned in it or leaning against it. Every video shows an act: spraying a corner of the scaffolding with gold-colored spray paint, pouring slip over a ball – acts involving the elements that are part of the sculptures, whose traces can be discovered on the sculptures upon close inspection.
To those viewers that skim through the exhibition, the work risks seeming ungenerous both conceptually and in appearance. In fact, it rewards only the most attentive and even then reveals only a sliver of its frame of mind.
The exhibition’s leaflet indicates that the works have something to do with the futurist sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913 by Umberto Boccioni, yet it doesn’t approximate any of its stylistic elements. The 20 cent coins in the sculptures are all of the Italian variant and feature the famous futurist sculpture. The initial letters of the sculpture’s title were used to generate the exhibition’s own title: Unstable Fakers of Change in Self, whose meaning seems strikingly contrary. Yet Futurism is otherwise nowhere to be found.
In this sense, the installation reads more like a commentary on the coin than a flirtation with Futurism. And that is exactly how I think Hultén wants us to view the sculptures: as a commentary on the appraisal of this sculpture considering its historical context.
Not only did futurists believe in technology and speed as the new way, and desire consequently to do away with old traditions, Futurism was a war-enthusiastic and misogynistic movement too, the exhibition’s guard was kind enough to point out. Especially article 9 and 10 of its manifesto will appall many a contemporary reader, yet at the same time its messages bear resemblance to the fascistoid thinking that is undergoing a resurgence today:
“9. We will glorify war – the world’s only hygiene – militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.
10. We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.”
Unstable Fakers of Change in Self. Can anything conclusive be said as to what that means or as to who the fakers are? No, not really. Hultén cleverly avoids unambiguous statements, but I do feel it’s safe to say she points our heads in a definite direction.
The exhibition was curated by Andreas Fiedler
Through 31 March 2019
At Kindl – Centre for Contemporary Arts
Wed–Sun 12–6 pm
Am Sudhaus 3, 12053 Berlin