Kiste, 2012
aluminium cast


Beate Engl
Beate Engl
Visitors entering the „Intolerance / Normality“ exhibition
at the Grazer Kunstverein encountered Beate Engl‘s work „The Box“ (2012). The artist took a simple wooden crate, cast in alumini um, and placed it upside-down, situating it in a large, empty, white space of gallery. The reversed box elicited the obvious associations with a publicspeaking Situation, in which a politically motivated speaker climbs onto the reversed box to address the crowd. How many social movements have started from a gesture of turning a box into a speaking platform?
What Is „Concrete?“ - Engl‘s work consists of two parallel, logical movements. In the first, the artistic gesture turns the ordinary object into a potential vehicle for political action, thus opening what is a utilitarian object intended for undetermined, free, and potentially innovative practices. In the second movement, however, the artistic gesture abstracts the very same object, by putting it in the empty space of a gallery, from any ordinary form of human activity and therefore turns it into the object of pure, passive contemplation. To put it another way: from the one side, we have the act transforming the „abstract“ object (lacking any particular features that would enable us to grasp what is „concrete“ about it) into the, at least potentially, very „concrete“ vehicle of political action; from the other side, we have the act of turning the „concrete“ object (i.e., material, individual) into an „abstract“ notion of „art“- simply by placing it in the space of the exhibition and in the institution of the art gallery.

(excerpt from the review: Truth is concrete: steirischer herbst
by Jakub Majmurek, Camera Austria #120, 2012)