artintelligence

December 21, 2007

Annette Wehrmann, Unwellness by the See

Filed under: Munster07, Anomie, Art into Life, Readymade, Absurdism — Graham Coulter-Smith

Annette Wehrmann, Aaspa - Wellness am See, 2007. Munster Sculpture Project 07.Annette Wehrmann’s contribution to Munster Sculpture Project 07, Aaspa: Wellness am See (AaSpa Wellness by the Lake) consisted of a simulated building site. Her work can be understood as a symptom of a more general aesthetic zeitgeist in which artists express a desire to be socially useful and immediately deconstruct this outrageous yearning.


Annette Wehrmann, Aaspa - Wellness am See, 2007. Munster Sculpture Project 07. Annette Wehrmann, Aaspa - Wellness am See, 2007. Munster Sculpture Project 07.

Being demented is not unusual in the world of art since Dada and Surrealism gave birth to this particular aesthetic strategy. And one can note that Annette Wehrmann lives in Hamburg which is also where the grand absurdist Andreas Slominski lives and works.

Annette Wehrmann, Aaspa - Wellness am See, 2007. Munster Sculpture Project 07. Annette Wehrmann, Aaspa - Wellness am See, 2007. Munster Sculpture Project 07.

In AaSpa - Wellness am See, 2007. Munster Sculpture Project 07, the viewer experienced a non-event. Following the Munster Sculpture Project map, after a long trudge, the footsore art tourist comes upon what appears to be a building site. But being an experienced and informed art connoisseur the tourist knows that this could very well be art because, well just about anything can be art. The genius of the Munster Sculpture Project is that it expands the circumference of the defining power of the art institution to cover an entire city and its environs. All of which means (given the unbelievable influence of the Readymade) that just about anything one was looking at could be art, and quite often it was. One can cite Pea White’s contributions, for example, which appeared on lamp-posts and shop windows.

But it was Wehrmann’s offering that really emphasised the notion of the artist as joker and art as a joke; because, logically, if everything is art then why bother with artists? This is a serious issue think for example of the work of Rikrit Tiravanija.

Annette Wehrmann, Aaspa - Wellness am See, 2007. Munster Sculpture Project 07. Annette Wehrmann, Aaspa - Wellness am See, 2007. Munster Sculpture Project 07. Annette Wehrmann, AaSpa, Wellness am See, 2007. Munster Sculpture Project 07.

The building site was curiously inactive, and it was this lack of function which was the crucial feature that characterised this entity as a “work of art”. After circumnavigating the site one came upon a very unimpressive sign ostensibly advertising the construction of a spa-resort “Wellness beside the Lake” referring to Lake Aa (Aasee) which was nearby. The fact that the sign looked like it was painted by a nine-year-old also led the seasoned art tourist to the conclusion that this was indeed art because it was “deconstructive”. Those of us well versed in art know that the grunge style usually signifies a trenchant critique of late capitalism. But after trudging so far to see this thing one did feel a little short changed. Fortunately Susan Philipsz’s remarkable sound work The Lost Reflection was not too much further along the path.

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