artane
 

ARGONAUT MATHILDA

23 Sep - 07 Oct 2010

 

AN INTERCONTINENTAL JOURNEY

As the title implies, the German artist Christian Schnurer will be traveling in his sculpture the    “Argonaut Mathilda”, leaving Munich in September 2010, crossing 10 European boundaries and arriving in Istanbul, European Capital of Culture 2010 , ca. 10 days later.

In Istanbul, he will morph the vehicle into an amphibean and cross the Bosphorus to the Asian side – to a new continent – the final stage of his expeditional journey. Subsequently the installation – “Argonaut Mathilda” and the artist’ s subjective video of the journey -  will be shown for ca. 2 weeks at Artane.

This seemingly simple act contains multiple messages.

The core element of the expedition is the vehicle – a 1960’s Czech, 3 -wheel , Velorex Oscar 16/350 ,which provides a credible and functional image for boundless mobility sans the hubris of Western technology. Its steel ribs spanned with protective material, remind of space -vehicles or folding canoes.  A relatively speedy conversion by attaching the car to a Czech dinghy “Mathilda”  turns the vehicle into  an amphibean, enabling it to cross over rivers and seas as a “boat car”. Geographic hindrances thus become surmountable.

Of paramount importance to the project – more so than the vehicle’s technical feasibility- are the core concepts of freedom to move across boundaries both geographical,artistic and political. “Geographically and politically”, the artist says: “The expedition to the Bosphorus is, for me, the proof that individual freedom and freedom of movement is possible. On the way, I’ll cross and push back a number of borders. Borders that are created by the authorities, borders between nations…..this is the political dimension of the sculpture, which by its movement through public space becomes in itself a social action….The route that I am allowed to take, over ten boundaries within and outside the EU , can only be followed under very much more difficult circumstances in the reverse direction elsewhere in the world.( from South to North). This is also in memory of the many people  who don’t get past the EU ’s outer borders, or don’t even get to them because they drown attempting to do so. , because Europe is closing itself off more and more……”  Additionally the artist is not only testing his own boundaries of endurance ( a recurrent theme in his work) but is also  spotlighting the socio-political boundaries dividing Europe and Turkey. Are they surmountable? Is a dialogue navigable? Turkey’s eventual EU membership and Istanbul’s current  highlighted status of Capital of Culture make his choice of destination highly topical.

Artistically Schnurer is redrawing hypothetical boundaries using his car as a tool. It is an unconventional project that defies a traditional disciplinary categorization. He is exploring a mode of representation which is intended to provoke and broaden the way viewers perceive and experience art. He not only ignores the line between sculpture, action art, video and installation but also the borders between “high art” and the mundane everyday. His art can be experienced outside the “holy” confines of a museum and is accessible,literally, to the man on the street.

However, Schnurer doesn’t only want to surmount geographical, and testify to, political borders.

His is a world where the burlesque, dangerous and insurmountable appear natural. A world in the grand perception of things without borders or perceptual restrictions.

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