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Exposition : Erwin Wurm

Conceived by the European House of Photography in partnership with General Stores, the exhibition entitled "Erwin Wurm, photographs", the first major retrospective devoted to the photographic work of artist Erwin Wurm (born in 1954), invites you to discover images his absurd universe, and his sculptures as funny as reflexive.

The exhibition “Erwin Wurm, photographs”, whose ambition is to reflect the importance of photography in the work of Erwin Wurm, presents for the first time in France more than 200 visual objects - contact sheets original, prints, studies - produced by the Austrian plastic artist since the 1980s. The hanging and the purpose of this retrospective propose to re-examine the artistic approach of Erwin Wurm, in his capacity as a contemporary "sculptor", through his photographs.

After being accepted into the sculpture section at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Erwin Wurm, who dreamed of becoming a painter, decided to deconstruct sculpture to better question it. He has since developed an unexpected sculptural vocabulary, influenced by the precepts of minimalist art and conceptual art. Halfway between sculpture and performance, his works question the relationship that everyone has with his body and everyday objects. Erwin Wurm imagines absurd scenes, where he constrains bodies, alters habits and hijacks objects, and immortalizes them through photography or video. In the images of his famous One Minute Sculptures (1997), we discover that the artist confronts his body, or that of others, with its own limits. If the images of Erwin Wurm's sculptural performances are first of all documents of observation, which illustrate these ephemeral sculptures, they have retrospectively become works of art in their own right.

The whole challenge of the retrospective is therefore to show the different aspects of the multifaceted work of Erwin Wurm. The exhibition reveals the various aspects of his complex work. Both funny and sociocritical, his "photographic sculptures" humorously question social conventions. In his series "Instructions for Idleness" (2001), the artist suggests "spending the day in pajamas", "expressing oneself exclusively by yawning" or "fantasizing about nihilism", when, in "How to Be Politically Incorrect ”(2002-2003), he mocks the rules of politeness and encourages his model to“ spit in someone's soup ”.

The course is also punctuated by several interactive works that invite us to experience the performance-sculptures designed by Erwin Wurm. This judicious choice of curators, Simon Baker and Laurie Hurwitz, reminds us that the works photographed are above all sculptures to experiment.

As the MEP is currently closed to the public due to the coronavirus, the cultural center teams offer to discover the exhibitions via its Facebook and Instagram accounts. In an Instagram post “Take over” published on April 22 on the profile of the CRM, for example, the artist Erwin Wurm shows us around his studio.

For more information, visit the website the European House of Photography.

Photographs: © Erwin Wurm

Léa Pagnier

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