Catharina Szonn

Catharina Szonn’s sculptures and structures are self-contained systems that, as obsolete machines freed from their original purpose, become symbols of a requiem to the efficiency and performance of our growth utopia.

At the center of her work for the Frankfurter Kunstverein is Szonn’s artistic exploration of a straw blower. In the past, the machine was used in agriculture to automatically move hay. This technique is no longer used today as it is considered too monofunctional and ponderous. Szonn has created a kinetic machine sculpture out of this found object. She has dismantled the piping system and added new mismatched pieces with completely different material properties. The mechanism amounts to an extra-long composition, grows back on its body, and becomes a loop.

At every half an hour, the motorized engine starts up with a dissonant sound. Inside the system is not hay, but paper. The text fragments on the individual sheets refer to the topic of commodity circulation. It has already been sucked in and is inside the machine. The sheets are not transported away but continually blown through the closed circuit and digested in the shredding system.

The stacked white blocks that support the precarious tube structure are also made of digested paper. Waste products from our consumer and commodity-based society, used disposable packaging, transport crates, and cardboard boxes also function as pillars of this system that does not support itself.

The machine contradicts the now familiar contemporary aesthetics of progress and efficiency. Catharina Szonn’s structure represents an ironic attack on the meaning of the consumption-driven era of unstoppable technical innovations. It is a criticism of the uniformity of industrial processes and the production of useless things.

(Text: Franziska Nori, Dennis Brzek)