Heimo ZobernigSubversive Forms of Social Sculpture
Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE
The two artists Heimo Zobernig and Abdulnasser Gharem – one from Austria, the other from Saudi Arabia have come together because they have one thing in common. Both have changed "behavior" through their artistic work. Joseph Beuys coined the term "social sculpture" (Soziale Plastik), meaning that the consciousness changed by art leads to a different social behaviour.
The work of Heimo Zobernig spans an array of media, from architectural intervention and installation, through performance, film and video, to sculpture and painting. He says "The material, the medium, is the resistance met in forming. A sculpture is a picture is a film". By consistently taking to the most diverse forms, he has radically intervened in the consciousness of art. His notion of sculpture is that of form itself, transcending boundaries in perception. In terms of perception everything is sculpture. "Now we've reached zero, I resign and you can experience it for yourself." With these brief words, the Carinthian artist presented his Austrian pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. By making only minimal incisions in the architectural concept of the Austrian pavilion, by lowering a ceiling and matching the colour of the floor, thereby achieving maximum contemplation. The Saudi Arabian artist Abdulnasser Gharem is known for his highly political and highly sensitive works of art, which achieve the balancing act of creating an open platform in a restrictive society and intelligently and subversively push the limits of the possible. In a recently published interview in the New York Times, he says: “That is your role as an artist, to bring out the option that the politician can’t say and that the religious man can’t say,” – “You bring out the solutions that people can’t say.” His work makes highly subtle and subversive inroads upon processes within Saudi-Arabian society.