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Oxy Gallerie, Osaka / Japan 1996


Time to Remove Your Comfortable Well-worn Clothes

“The best way to get to know a city you visit for the first time is by walking or cycling” said Jost Wischnewski, and as soon as he arrived in Osaka, he cycled around town on the bicycle we procured for him. Several rivers flow through the city; an highways and elevated bridges wind round and cross over the rivers - what captured the eyes of Wischnewski, while sitting on his bicycle saddle, was the dynamism of elevated transportation networks that move through the urban space in freely circumventing arcs. In his birthplace, Düsseldorf, there is nothing that intercepts the River Rhine other than the occasional bridge, and the autobahn creeps toward the horizon carrying cars at roaring speed. The difference in his impressions of the two cities became his inspiration, and thus his work in Osaka began.


Wischnewski, who incorporates giving a fresh beauty to building materials such as concrete plywood in his work, chose plaster board as his medium this time. This building material is generally used to build space dividers and walls. By deliberately setting out to use the reverse of this material, he betrayed our everyday perspective. His plaster board structure constructed in the manner of a house of cards was inspired by the roads that run above ground and the bridge piers that stand in rows. The lightweight impression that plaster board gives and the mobility that it affords becaus of its portability are used to create a sharp contrast with the static and heavy impression of the concrete wall of the OXY Gallerie. In this plaster bord structure, he finds the same characteristics as earthquake-resistant buildings in Japan, which absorb the the shocks by shaking their own structure. This reflects in the title of this art work.

Triggered by the movement of your own body as you walk around this structure, the electric tools suddenly start to produce noises. How would you react to this? You might feel confused or surprise. Wischnewski comments: “Our daily lives, without our being aware of it, have come to be controlled by machines or computers. By entering the space that my works creates, you will be able to rediscover such a reality. I have attempted to create the opportunity for you to experience a refined perspective that may be a little removed from the mundane that has become so familiar and commonplace.”

Automatically regulated room temperature and humidity and traffic networks, centrally controlled office automation, and such like have become so deeply ingrained in our daily lives that we usually go about our daily activities without paying any special attention to them. However, who can definitly assert that our bodies, which we recognize as being controlled by machines, will never be transformed while we are unaware? In Wischnewski`s work, electric tools that detect movement via sensors suddenly announce their existence by unexpectedly producing loud noises, thus manifesting to us that the work has a structure that is controlled by sensors. The sense of seeing, the method of vision-analysis in which we put our greatest trust, betrays us here and leaves us in a state of slight shock. However, in our daily lives, in which we are overwhelmed ba the vision-oriented world, we unconsciously accept only things we can see, while computers and their programming both fulfill their funtions in total silence, not uttering a single sound.

With the plaster board installation on the left, and with the scenery through the windoe on the right, this work should be viewed from a little distancs away. Can you notice the motif that is common to the work and to the real scenery? The arch-shaped window of the upper part of the gallery and the installation underneath and the arch of the roof of the white architecture outside the window (Wine Museum) and the surrounding elevated roads and bridge girders - Wischnewski focuses his imagination on our extrapolation in our minds, the space within the gallery to the reality of space outside. It is as if the artist is saying that, in this gallery, which he consider to be a simulation of our consciousness, which is usualy dulled by the mundane, to break free and permit an element of play to take over.

Kaoru Matsumoto, Curator
Planning Office of Contemporary Art and Culture Center, Osaka

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