Lecture: Lazy Art and Exhausted Objects. The Sculpture of the Post-Ephemeral


Lecture by Ellen Wagner in conjunction with the “My Theme” lecture series

Anyone who views art as more than a diverting way to pass the time knows that it requires exhaustion. It demands the depletion of all reserves on the part of the artist as well as absolute attention on the part of the viewer. However, the independent life that art is said to embody—and above all the insistent, being-like presence originally attributed to sculpture in particular—seems to be increasingly manifested in a kind of sagging flaccidity. Artists explicitly devote themselves to the exhausting procedure of working materials in a manner that makes this process visible—as an action over time—in the resulting object. Traces and marks of use can also simply create the effect of a patina, when the intention is to suggest that the development of the work in time has come to a conclusion. This appears to be a reaction to the expectation—whether of the discerning viewer or the achievement-oriented artist—that a material will engage in an active expenditure of energy. Fundamentally, the question arises whether a sculpture that presents an image of exhaustion is not as vital and effective as any other, and precisely its apparent passivity bonds it with the preceding and following respective activities of its production and reception.

Ellen Wagner (born 1987) studied art education at the The Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg. As a teaching assistant for the Chair for Art Theory and Art Education she organized at the academy the symposium “Das Jetzt ist die Nacht” (The Now is the Night) conceived by Prof. Helmut Draxler. Since March 2013 she writes her doctoral thesis at HFG Offenbach on strategies of not-definitively working in contemporary art.