LIVE WIRE is the title of Judith Fegerl's opening exhibition and provides an exciting cross-section of the Viennese artist's works. Fegerl has been dealing with the currently ubiquitous topic of energy for more than 20 years. However, unlike so often in contemporary art, this does not serve her as a means to an end; rather, her entire work is fundamentally based on electricity: from generation, transmission and effect to its importance as the central supply organ of modern civilization. Invisible, mysterious and at the same time indispensable - electricity usually only concerns you in the event of a power failure or when the costs for it increase immeasurably like they are now.
Moment (2018), for example, makes our chronic electricity dependency vividly visible. The room-high, filigree sculpture is held together solely by an electromagnetic field generated by coils of copper wire. If the coils are disconnected from the current, the sculptures immediately fall apart.
The discarded and artistically arranged solar panels of the wall work Last Light (2022) are also charged with tension. Functional but bereft of its inherent usefulness, it is no longer the sunlight but the curious gaze of the beholder that is drawn to the technoid charm of the shimmering crystal structures.
The fusion of sober, functional technology and the so-called "e;fine arts"e; is a constant in Judith Fegerl's work. The resulting works are always fascinating, magical units.
The painterly quality of the Series of Electric Shocks (2022) almost evokes a classic image of the painter in the studio. Rather, Fegerl's light-flooded studio resembles a laboratory in which the large-format steel plates are immersed into a copper-containing liquid bath. That sounds harmless at first, but when electrodes are added and the artist initiates an electrochemical process, extreme caution is required. Fegerl's material studies, which often last for years, make the respective reaction in the process fundamentally predictable for her. In the end, however, a certain unpredictability is her constant companion.
LIVE WIRE presents a fascinating selection of expansive sculptures, representative wall works and small-format drawings, all of which are equal components of Judith Fegerl's artistic practice.
Technical, cold and filigree, at the same time individual, warm and strong - Judith Fegerl combines all these attributes in her work, which leads to an incomparable presence of her work.
31. January 2023
installation view LIVE WIRE | photo: daniel kraus
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