Erwin Wurm – Psychoanalysis & Philosophy


Erwins Wurm series of work provoke a humorous feel. In his sculptural series he usually uses actors or the audience to capture an object to object experience creating an immediate interaction, which is preserved in each viewers memory because of its direct participation.- Something that, as the writer says may lose someone who  is not directly present.To recognise the humorous aspect of the work is quite easy, therefore to exemplify and interpret the work requires knowledge and cleverness.
“Physcoanalysis was compelled to recognise from the start that the hidden can also be hidden on the surface.” ( as Jasques Lacan) demonstrated in his commentary on Edhar Allen Poes “the Purloined Letter”


Erwin Wurm, Curved Abdominal Cavity:Wittgenstein(2004)

Curved Abdominal Cavity: Wittgenstein”(part of a series titled “Philosophy – Digestion”) depicts a person hanging over a door – a reminder, as the writer (Pfaller) says,  on DOUBT. That is to say,the question that we raise and our doubts depend on the fact that some propositions are exempt from doupt, are as it were like hinges on which those turn..if I want the door to turn,the hinges must stay put.
DOUBT: declared concern of postmodernism.

Pfaller states that Erwin Wurm’s work response to the propositions of postmodern artistic skepticism, for example:
1.Durational character / fleeting, temporary alignment of his work -(φευγαλέα, προσωρινή ευθυγράμμιση του έργου του)
2. timeless presence & validity
3. self ironic – comical element.
4. the use of unspectacular materials that come to hand by chance.
5. Publics involvement.



On participation: Usually the artist gives really clear and directions / Instructions to the viewers. Musical notations make it possible for the interpreters to be creative in their own way. The different installations / and participative work allow the viewers the freedom to chose with particular piece they want to interact.

As the writer underlines, the purpose of public participation int the artistic process , particularly in the post modern is to stimulate the public to creativity and interaction.
participation therefore acts as a facilitation of direct understanding; a model of democratisation, so to speak, for the rest of society.
In the classic avant – garde of modernity this particular openness had a different kind of meaning..As Pfaller explains the public was a passive element and that they did not even need to know that they were included in the artistic process.

In his pieces, the people Wurm’s brings into,” do not have to contribute the least amount of creativity or intelligence”



“Wurm produces visual formulations and situations that are capable of saying more, event more than Wurm himself knows. The artist task here has similar conception of the analyst who asks a patient to tell him not only what he feels/concerns and knows but rather and perhaps more importantly what he does not know.

The compositions have meaning and foretell of what will happen next.They yet clearly show that must be like this and nothing else. Clear as that and straight forward. When referencing the concept of a Philosopher or theorist, the artist seems to be really straight forward as he is using their name in the actual work title, as for example the above image: “Curved Abdominal Cavity: Wittgenstein”




Erwin Wurm: One minute Sculpture (1997)




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