Gelitin are art bad boys with a punk attitude. They pay attention to the world of impulses and uninhibited affection. They shock the faint at heart and titillate those who are intrigued by shocking art genres.
They make explicit references to sexuality in order to connect with their roots. They are not necessarily exhibitionists. They are observers, explorers, and archeologists of the human condition.
There is a strong Austrian Actionism influence mixed with the happening tradition and art brut. They somehow deprive the excessive darkness of each movement by taking a naïve anarchic approach.
The group of Gelitin is composed by 4 members Wolfgang Gantner, Ali Janka, Florian Reither, Tobias Urban but they have numerous collaborators almost 20.
I first met one of the original founder’s Florian Reither in Milano and then encountered him again during the Venice biennal. He introduced me to his fellow partners in crime Schuyler Maehl and Mundi. We almost lost ourselves on the tiny island of Vignole while looking for the British pavilion dinner in company of one of the former young British artists exhibiting at Arsenale.
They spoke with me about their upcoming performance in Wien and I wanted to write about their studio. Once in Wien Florian convinced me that I had to see the museum performance. He exclaimed, “That’s our studio. That’s where we work.”
Gelitin Loch, the performance, is at the 21er, a museum devoted to Austrian contemporary art.
The 3-floor building is surrounded by glass. It was built by Karl Schwanzer in 1958 and recently renewed by Adolf Krischanitz who won a prize for readapting the building. It has all the characteristics and facilities to host any contemporary art delirium from the perfect light, to a removable ceiling, lots of storage, and a huge terrace.
In the space of the kuntshalle, a huge polystyrene cube almost 6 meters high welcomes the viewer. Next, I was advised to go to the second floor, the workspace.
On the terrace of the second floor you can face the top of the installation, a sort of podium with many different kind of instruments. Some of the Gelitin rises to the top, coming from a tunnel carved inside the giant structure. It reminds me of a massive intestine.
Some artists scale the walls with the agility of spiders and start working the material with styrofix, a pickaxe and all sorts of tools.
Other people sit atop the sculpture putting foam in the same vases that will be poured into the holes where it was previously assembled.
The giant block is a gigantic blank space for inspiration, the quintessential metacube of all sculptures, an iconic treasure trove attacked by fortunes. It makes the viewer feel like an ant.
They recreate rough shapes carving it from top and then lowering to the ground so that people can retouch them. This will go on for a week. Mundi told me that at the end there will be a forest of sculptures.
On the ground floor musicians, performers, and sculptors, sing, dance and work together carving raw shapes and slicing details. Even children join the artists. A sense of harmony and musicality pervade the space and connect the players, as if they were in a jazz band.
Spontaneity and complicity are basic parts of the process. They coordinate with glances or signals, the sounds of the drills mixed with he sound of the piano. The performers dance and roll in the polystyrene guided by an inner impulse. Every action feeds another action.
The permanent circle of fluxus and transmutation and the discovery of creation through destruction becomes and affirmation of life. They attack the cube to discover the IDEA.
The art is a psychedelic mine, a sort of Plato’s Cave, a multi media environmental installation where everything is connected and becomes a living being in its own complexity.
The white color and the continuous rain of Styrofoam makes it look like an iceberg. The atmosphere is intense and ironic as in a postindustrial fable.
There is something almost fragile in its intimate pure beauty.
Fiammetta De Michele.
The exhibition is on view until September 29, 2013 at 21er Haus, Museum of Contemporary Art, Vienna
for more info visit website http://www.gelitin.net/projects