Culture Talks | Erwin Wurm on his One Minute Sculptures
— June 26, 2012 —
Conversations with leading cultural figures
One Minute Sculpture, 1997, c-print, 45x30cm One Minute Sculptures (1997) © Erwin WurmFor over a decade, Austrian artist Erwin Wurm has been developing a remarkable ongoing series of One Minute Sculptures. There's nothing complex about the works: people posing in a spontaneous manner with everyday objects for sixty seconds. Pencils inserted into ears, a chair propped on an eye. They are surreal; simple; funny; sometimes dark, making a nod to obscure rituals.
Whilst Wurm has in recent years exhibited works in other mediums, including squashed cars and enlarged houses, a selection of photographs of his earliest One Minute sculptures, made in the late nineties, are currently on display at Liverpool's Open Eye Gallery; the first UK exhibition entirely devoted to the series. "The fundamental steps consisted in abandoning the idea of durability and infinity. Sculpture could also last for just a few minutes, a few seconds. The works were transported to the level of the immediate present," explains Wurm. The One Minute Sculptures first came about in the 1980s, when the artist had the realisation that a person can be a sculpture. "One minute doesn’t mean exactly one minute – it can be ten seconds or two minutes and so on, it’s just a synonym of “short”. Here, Wurm answer the questions to AnOther's one-minute questions...
Do you have a favourite one minute sculpture?
No. It’s like when you have a hundred children and are asked the question, “Do you have a favourite child?” No you don’t. You love them all.
Can you pinpoint the best minute of your life so far?
The best minute of my life? Oh my god, probably during sex.
The most difficult minute of your life?
When my father died.
"The best minute of my life? Probably during sex"
If you were to recommend an activity for one-minute what would it be?
I would say hold your breath and think of the pound because the Euro doesn’t make it any longer.
If you had one-minute to live, what would you do?
I'd still be thinking of what I'd like to do when the minute was over.
If you could be another person for a minute, who would it be?
Arnold Schwartznegger. Because he’s from my hometown and he’d make a great piece of art. He’s a great sculpture! What he did with his body is fantastic – that’s a great piece of sculpture. No longer than a minute otherwise it may get a bit embarassing.
How do you tell the time?
I am addicted to watches and telling the time. I wake up with a watch and look at the watch regularly throughout the day. How many days, how many years do I still have to live? How much work do I still have to do? I wear an old fashioned analogue watch.
*What's the first thing you do when you wake up?
I’m happy to be awake. I’m happy to be up.
* What are your favourite 3 everyday objects?
A pen; a knife; an earbud.
Erwin Wurm: One Minute Sculptures runs at the Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, until September 2.
Text by Laura Bradley