“Deceive ” 2012, Installation view at Pingpong art space Taipei
Probably as the most sculptural installation work ever installed in the white cube space of Pingpong, Deceive by the German artist Wolfgang Stiller is a light installation made of hundreds of white plastic shrimp traps in the form between a giant chandelier and stalactites. Mesmerizing gentle warm beams of light, the installation does not create a spectacle, nor a statement, but leaves some subtle hints for an experiment—are you lured to the irresistible gravity of a shrimp trap, too?
Stiller’s double play on readymade objects could be seen as the artistic language he employs to transform and explore our relations to the everyday surrounding. Extracted from the plastic features and the abstract connotations, his chosen objects—from shrimp traps, match sticks to helmets, simultaneously carry a dark humor and a critique to respond to our situated world and his observation on humanity. In the work Deceive, the devices used locally in Taiwan by lobstermen to catch shrimps are reshaped into artificial stalactites, hanging from the ceiling and almost reaching to the ground, still call for the game of illusion in their new life. It is hard not to immerse oneself with the vibrant energy the installation rhythmically distributes around the space. In this little game, human are both the subject and the object of deceive, but what is the illusion rendering here? These shrimp traps? The artistic transformation quality in between forms? The trajectory of our natures and desires? The mirrored reality in which we often mistake or feel perplexed by superficial looks? Or, a grotesque take: whose life to take with such a killing device, a beautiful prison?
One more double play is concept-wise presented here. There is a subtle ambiguity swinging in between deceive and fiction, lies and imaginations. Generally speaking, art is usually considered to distinguish these two, but in this particular installation, it seems to blur such boundaries again. If fictionality lies in the heart of artistic expressions, Deceive indicates an interesting wormhole to bring these two dimensions—deceive and fiction—together, and renegotiates a new aesthetics.
The dynamic layers of Stiller’s installation investigate the nutshell of the “work” of art. In parallel to all exterior conceptual aspects and sensational experiences created by his works, Stiller’s interests in exploring different possibilities of transforming meanings of objects into different status of beings are ceaselessly shown throughout his artistic practice. There is a strong intent in playing out the materiality, the substance of what it is made of our everyday life, to convey his experimental spirits in capturing and providing new forms of life for our overly materialized life. When meanings of everyday objects are exhausted and distorted, Stiller reminds us to revitalize our imagination with a powerful double play.
Written by Esther Lu