Bernhard Fruehwirth’s works are often based on biographical events and everyday observations, which he translates into model-like situations or states using various transformational processes. This process of transfer fragments the original references to the primary sources in such a way that they are no longer present as a superstructure, but generate a relationship of tension between idea and image, between index and symbol.
In his current project for the Secession, Bernhard Fruehwirth shows a series of new works that place a number of different formats and media in relation to one another, including inter alia drawing, sculpture, photography and sound. The decision to select the play on words Reelle Duelle as the title of the exhibition counteracts any conceptual rigidity. At the same time, it emphasises the precision in the placement of the chosen objects and constellations.
As the central element of the exhibition, Bernhard Fruehwirth places an embankment in the Grafisches Kabinett of the Secession.The wall of earth and its sparse, wintry vegetation extend from the ceiling to the floor and occupy the greater part of the space. The motif of the embankment evokes numerous associations: It plays a central role within the art historical tradition as an element in landscape painting, where, inter alia, it can be laden with symbolic meaning to represent a particular (world) view. At the same time, the embankment is a kind of no-man’s-land, it serves as a rubbish tip or is associated with crimes and strange encounters, and embankments also turn out to be complex biotopes…
Parallel to the installation that reaches into the space, Bernhard Fruehwirth presents a series of drawings whose formal idiom refers to the graphic design aspect that repeatedly plays a central role as starting point and reference system in his artistic praxis. The drawings themselves depict enlarged share certificates and are based on historical copies from the beginning of the last century through to today’s dot.com economy. Besides the graphic design of the documents, their homogeneous, strict, form-like layout, the artist’s interest focuses on the actions, functions and projections that are associated with share certificates: shares objectify an invisible right in the form of a piece of paper; they seek to convey permanence, security and confidence, while at the same time they embody the potential dissolution of capital through speculation and insecurity. And they represent the process of visual transformation of the object “money” into its abstract fiction.
The process of charging objects and materials with symbolic and thus also with psychical meaning also plays an essential role in two further installations in the exhibition. A niche opposite the embankment contains a gold-plated hairdryer that is blowing at full power. The warm wind and the noise it generates stand in direct dialogue with the embankment. Whereas in this case the colour “gold” enriches the object with a further meaning and thus fetishises it, the form of presentation in the second sound installation results in an aesthetic enhancement: a portable cassette player is exhibited in the display case on the stairway up to the Grafisches Kabinett in such a way that it takes on the qualities of a collector’s piece. The tape acts in parallel with the hairdryer and the embankment. The combination of the noise of the hairdryer with the sound of the tape formulates an interpretation of the theory of neutralisation, according to which superimpositions evoke nullifications.
In Reelle Duelle the individual works address one another, challenge one another, and form constellations which on the one hand give rise to new compositions and on the other hand generate a tension between the dissolution and formation of meanings.