|Above: An overhead view of Erik Wenzel's Artforum magazine-based installation "Fernweh," as seen within The Storefront, 2606 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL, on the show's opening night, April 20, 2013.|
April 20 - May 12, 2013
2606 N. California Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
Erik Wenzel, most obviously recalling Carl Andre, has made use of the floor for the purpose of presenting modular units in a grid pattern. Here, though, the invitation to the audience to walk upon the piece set in Brandon Alvendia’s The Storefront is wanted to be especially cheeky: an institution of sorts (Artforum magazine) and a commercial appropriation of cultural resources (in the form of gallery advertisements) are simultaneously trodden upon, which action symbolically mimics Wenzel’s own “progress” through the real and metaphysical worlds of art.
|Above: The artist, Erik Wenzel, at center with a cigarette and a 16 oz. can of beer, discusses "Fernweh" with patrons of The Storefront, 2606 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL, on his show's opening night, April 20, 2013.|
|Above: The artist, Erik Wenzel, at left, surveys The Storefront gallery, 2606 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL, on the opening night of his "Fernweh" installation, April 20, 2013.|
Appenzeller Landschaft forms the exhibition’s centerpiece. The gallery’s checked linoleum floor is tiled with several years’ worth of Artforum magazines laid face down. What started as an art-about-art Oedipal gesture unfolded over time into a more complex gesture mixing travel, the idea of 'home', and personal and contemporary art history. The title translates to 'Appenzell countryside' or 'landscape', referring to the photographs of Swiss life, particularly in the Canton and region of Appenzell, which have graced the back cover of the art magazine since the 1980s. Gallerist Bruno Bischofberger has leased this space, honoring his hometown of Appenzell and juxtaposing with brief text about his exhibitions, to represent his gallery’s program. These images, at once spectacular, sentimental, and curiously ethnographic, provide a consistent and compelling counterpoint to the ever changing ebb and flow of trends catalogued within the magazine’s pages.
Viewers step onto the piece and into a landscape. Just like the Swiss topography, Appenzeller Landschaft has its peaks and valleys, created by the varying thicknesses of each issue of the magazine. From the thin copies the 1990s to the phonebook girth of the boom years, from the Spartan aftermath of the latest economic collapse to the recent recovery of high-end economies, the floor’s irregular surface is determined by the number of ads taken out in the periodical. Formally, an aesthetics of compression is at play--the physical experience walking around on magazines, the weight of your body acting on the pages, squeezing them together in a sculptural way.
Travelling through Appenzell, hiking in the pre-Alps, and spending a night in a gasthoff on the side of a mountain during a residency in 2009 left a lasting impression on the artist. Over time Switzerland, particularly Bern, the home of the residency with which Wenzel is affiliated, has become a home away from home for the artist.
The story of Fernweh reads somewhat like a folk tale. In 2011 Wenzel, his cat deceased, in a dead-end job, and the lease on his apartment expiring, chose to leave the country. The possessions he didn’t sell or throw out, he locked up in storage. The stock of Artforums and other magazines he’d collected over the years he bequeathed to Brandon Alvendia, whose Storefront space was up the street from Wenzel’s apartment. For nearly two years Wenzel has lived an itinerant existence, travel through Switzerland, living in Berlin, returning for a time to Chicago, living outside Salzburg for a residency in an old Salt Factory in Austria, traveling by train through Germany, Austria and Switzerland, living the New York life of too many people in too little a space, only to ultimately land, quite fortunately, on the same block as the Storefront, where his cache of art magazines waited, stacked like Donald Judd in the back room.
It is in this spirit of sentimentality, symmetry, and perfect coincidence we present Fernweh, the story of a wayfaring stranger, who struck out into the world only to find his place back where he had started.
Fernweh is a German term connoting an almost physical ache to be in another country."
Quotation above from: http://www.thevisualist.org/2013/04/erik-wenzel-fernweh/
Images (1-3) April 20, 2013;
Copyright Paul E. Germanos.