The much-anticipated Trap of the Truth exhibition by Erwin Wurm opened to the public on Saturday, June 10, 2023, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) in the United Kingdom. More than 100 works are currently on display, including 55 indoor sculptures, 19 outdoor sculptures, paintings, photographs, videos, and drawings from the artist’s 30 years of work, as well as several first-time exhibits (see designboom’s introduction here). Erwin Wurm consistently challenges the rules of sculpture, the limitations of the human body, and its relationship to inhabited spaces, as reflected in this exhibition. He frequently reimagines commonplace objects by giving them human traits in a process that is filled with humor and experimentation, which disrupts familiar and sensible perceptions.
In the end, Wurm’s work looks at the true meaning and essence of a sculpture by pushing its boundaries and questioning the value and significance of everyday objects. He uses absurd scenarios that are both playful and political to discuss how we conform to society’s demands and how sculpture can upend cultural beliefs. Beyond those amusing layers, Wurm also looked at the questions René Descartes asked in the 17th century, which led to his famous statement: He was inspired to come up with the exhibition’s title by the phrase “I Think Therefore I Am.” The Truth’s Catch-22.
19 outdoor sculptures, including brand-new and never-before-seen pieces, occupy the heritage landscape of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. ERWIN WURM’S SURREAL WORLD ENLIVENS YORKSHIRE SCULPTURE PARK Three figures from Wurm’s Packs series investigate shopper culture and objects of status. They include the five-meter-tall, pastel blue Big Step (2021), which is personified by long, elegant legs that appear to be walking purposefully and takes on the appearance of the Hermès Birkin bag, a contemporary symbol of prestige and wealth. The series is completed by Dance (2021) and Trip (2021), briefcases and suitcases with long, bouncy legs that convey human life within the landscape.
Big Kastenmann (2012), also known as the “big box man,” is five meters tall and has a large box for a torso. He wears a formal pink and grey suit jacket. His name means “big box man.” This was Wurm’s first major public artwork, and it was on display in 2012 outside The Standard Hotel in New York City. His 3.2-meter-tall bronze Balzac (2023) will be shown for the first time. It is a majestic human form made of intricate layers of robes, like ancient classical statues and a nod to Rodin’s sculpture with the same name.
Wurm interprets popular Austrian dishes by drawing inspiration from the historical and cultural identity of his nation. The most well-known of these dishes is the gherkin, or pickled cucumber, with which he has long been fascinated. It is shown alongside the four-meter-tall bronze Der Gurk (2016), and three of Wurm’s Giants from the Abstract Sculptures series (2014–18) are anthropomorphized bronze sausages that are a reference to the Wiener hot dog, which is named after Vienna, the capital of Austria. Both foodstuffs offer contemporary interpretations of totems, idols, obelisks, and other ancient sculptural forms and lend themselves well to monumentalization as sculpture.
TRAP OF Reality Reaches out TO THE UNDERGROUND YSP Display
In the Underground Exhibition, a choice of more than 50 models disentangles the intricacies of Wurm’s training close by 60 two-layered works showing the craftsman’s productive attracting practice pen, pastel, and watercolor. Renault 25, from 1991, is the earliest work in the gallery. It is a modified Renault 25 in full size that has been tilted to look like it has been distorted by fast cornering. Wurm’s penchant for the absurd and desire to challenge conformity are set in motion by this allusion to popular culture, animation, comic book illustration, and other forms of popular culture.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and Ludwig Wittgenstein are among the philosophers, psychologists, and thinkers whose works can be found in Wurm’s Attacks and Concrete Sculptures series in Gallery One. This kind of intellectual is frequently remembered by their homes or cabins, and Wurm continues the idea of praising places for solitude by depicting his workspace in the aluminum Eiswerk – My Studio (The Kitchen and Bedroom Hanging Down) (2005), a self-deprecating and irrational representation of his Limberg, Austria, studio and home.
The 2022 ConcreteSculptures combine cast-concrete forms of cars and houses with what appear to be fragments of demolished structures like iron wire, wood, and stone. The 2022 Attacks are vehicles and buildings made of bronze and aluminum that oversized sausages and bananas have squashed in a funny but uncomfortable way. A Mercedes truck that is 5.6 meters long exemplifies Wurm’s vast range of scale, and the bright red bending Truck II (2011) appears to have reversed up the gallery wall, where it is perched precariously.
In the 1990s, Wurm’s One Minute sculptures made him famous. In this ongoing series of works, the artist gives participants written or drawn instructions to pose with commonplace objects like buckets, chairs, or fruit for a short time. He uses video and photographs to record these brief encounters in which the viewer becomes the artwork. A selection of these will be displayed alongside a number of objects. Ship of Fools (2017) is an adapted caravan that extends the concept of the viewer as an artist, an art object, and a participant. Visitors can interact with the caravan by putting their heads, hands, bottoms, or feet through apertures, encouraging disruption and disorder in the normally revered museum setting.
The Icons sculptures, which are made of marble and depict bread, sausages, and a coffee bean, place them on a pedestal, giving them the status of classical statues. Seven ceramic sculptures from Wurm’s Dissolution series, which she created in 2018 to return to the direct and physical act of making, are displayed alongside. They continue Wurm’s exploration of the body and how we perceive the world around us in works titled Double Ear Head, Noser, and Mud Kiss, which incorporate body parts associated with human senses.
Six Flat Sculptures, oil on canvas works that the artist started painting in 2020, complete the exhibition. Wurm’s brightly painted canvases, on which letters spelling out their respective titles have been stretched and distorted into almost unrecognizable shapes, translate notions of form and volume. Wurm works primarily with sculpture. Trap of the Truth will also be accompanied by an illustrated guide and catalog featuring in-situ photography and a lively program of engagement activities centered on play, material exploration, and making process experimentation.