for Judith Fegerls solo-show “phasenraum” at Museion Bolzano, 2013
The Project Room at Museion is not a classic self-contained white cube but rather an open, transitive space that visitors can peer into from various vantage points—from the museum lobby, from outdoors, and even from one level higher on the staircase that extends into the room. It is a location with speci c properties that do not necessarily correspond to the ideal conditions for an exhibition space. And that is precisely the chal- lenge that Judith Fegerl takes on as the starting point for her site-specific interventions, activating the room itself as material manifestation and as a body whose surface she exposes and manipulates. The resulting effect relies just as much on the observer’s standpoint as on the positioning of the installations themselves.
As if perforating a membrane, wires pierce the section of a wall that has been exposed for the installation Stitching, which visitors can already glimpse from the museum lobby. In an almost surgical procedure, a piece of plasterboard was removed from a 200 x 140 cm area with precise incisions. Electrical wires were run in parallel through the exposed bare concrete. Associations with sutures are suggested, with the stitches running horizontally on the outside and vertically on the inside. They enclose the wall like a bracket, emphasizing its volume and materiality, and transfer the energy circulation that is otherwise hidden inside the wall to its outer surface. In short rhythmic intervals the wires glow and then cool down again, like the pulse beat of the building itself. The title deliberately plays with ambiguous medical and handicraft connotations. Fegerl has engaged with the topos of architecture as body in her earlier works as well, consistently developing it further. She is interested in intersections and symbioses between architecture and body, the mechanical and the organic, technology and nature, carrying out her investigations by way of site-specific projects.
In formal terms, Fegerl’s Stitching resembles a minimalist drawing in space, with the wire functioning as line and the wall as its matrix—more a picture support than a pictorial background. Seen from this perspective, drawing has abandoned its primary role of mapping real, three- dimensional space onto an illusionist, two-dimensional picture plane and instead manifests itself as a materialized object in space. These lines are not traces and marks left by the artistic gesture; instead, the movement impulse of the human hand is translated into an electrical impulse in the glowing wires—drawing as applied physics.
In the drawing Untitled (cutane), 2012, Fegerl has again supplanted the artistic gesture with electrified wires as a means of form-finding. The wires have left burn marks in the form of delicate irregular lines in the layers of latex that enclose them, inscribing themselves in material memory. This proves an effective strategy for testing simple physical processes as potential recording apparatus while at the same time vividly illustrating their aesthetic qualities.
The manipulation of the material by folding and displacing the two layers leads to partial duplication of the lines, which evokes an astonishing illusion of spatial depth. Both the title and the choice of material make reference more or less directly to the skin as corporeal shell. This sets in motion a range of quite divergent associations that stand in stark contrast to the fragile and reduced character of the actual drawings. They hence form a material equivalent to the contrastive pairs body/technology and human/machine.
A manipulation of the skin or the surface of architecture is also undertaken in the in situ installation Zuweisung von Freiheitsgraden (Assigning Degrees of Freedom). A room divider made of movable panels is attached to the wall like a prosthetic device, expanding the wall’s original surface out into the exhibition space. What this prosthesis is meant to replace is something the viewer only discovers after leaving the room. From the elevated stairway landing it is possible to see what is hidden behind the room divider—namely, the exposed concrete wall. The term “degree of freedom” is used to describe the number of movement parameters for a rigid body in space that may vary independently.
The artist’s interventions thus signify an extension of the “scope of movement” for the exhibition space.
Judith Fegerl investigates the functions of the exhibition space, creating what she calls a “phase space.” This concept borrowed from physics means a sketch in which every possible state of a system is indicated and represented by a point—it refers to three aspects defining the space:
its dimension, its energy, and its temporality.