the kitchen was what she had given of herself to the world
magnetic stainless steel, induction technology
four elements, 60 x 60 x 90 cm each
Judith Fegerl’s sculptures are modelled on the form of a kitchen, a highly efficient piece of furniture that is the centrepiece of any functional residential unit. She subjects rectangular objects made of magnetic stainless steel in the standardized dimensions of European kitchen modules (60 x 60 x 90 cm) to inductive heating to destabilize their shapes and produce rainbow-like hues on their surfaces.
Induction stoves heat metal cookware by inducing eddy currents and through magnetic hysteresis losses. Fegerl uses the technology to inscribe a signature on the material that metaphorically overwrites all memories and behavioural patterns associated with it: heating erases all traces of the metal’s magnetic memory.
The kitchen as such is still a symbol of traditional values and roles. Women, especially when they have children, find themselves cast as housewives, regardless of the careers they have forged. If the high-tech kitchen is thus potentially a counter-emancipatory instrument, as Vonnegut’s novel suggested well over half a century ago, Fegerl – an artist, wife, and mother – zaps it with a jolt of energy that ultimately shorts its ideological circuitry as well: rather than accommodating herself to the structure, she remakes the structures to her own specifications.
Text: Anne Faucheret, Kunsthalle Wien