Article Number: 724
Hard Cover, German, Staple Binding, 28 Pages, 1995
Bernhard Cella

1 m² Kunst

14 m² Dokument zu 1m² Kunst

The grid, the abstract geometric structure - the ideal form of the square ¬is modernism's most important figure of pathos as a symbol of the radi¬cal break with historic art.


The grid, the abstract geometric structure - the ideal form of the square ¬is modernism's most important figure of pathos as a symbol of the radi¬cal break with historic art. (1)

The abstract, geometric grid served the avant-garde as a lormal means for expressing its desire for a "tabu la rasa" on which it could establish an uncompromised "seil as origin" (Krauss). This we find in Malevitch and Mondrian as weil as in the Minimal Art of Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre or Eva Hesse. What makes this vision 01 the artist's originality paradoxical, how¬ever, is that no other figure in art is as suggestive 01 repetition as the geometric grid. The dogma of avant-gardistic authenticity is ambiguous, as Rosalind Krauss writes: "And just as the grid is a stereotype that is constantly being paradoxically rediscovered, it is, as a further paradox, a prison in wh ich the caged artist feels at liberty." (2)

The postmodern, conceptually oriented reflection of the avant-garde no longer allows the dichotomy "originality/repetition" to be defined in terms of the categories "authentic. progressive" and "imitation, eclectic". Rat¬her, art now examines the boundaries, making these visible in both a for¬mal and conceptual sense. It is precisely these boundaries Bernhard Cella addresses in his project "1 square meter of art". The dialectic of freedom and constraints alluded to touches on the pluralism of arti-stic expression as weil as the artist's desire to reach the public and the

- e-xpanding capa City of themarket. These-aspects are reflected in the si¬mulated setting 01 the gallery. For 96 artists it was a "tabu la rasa" desi¬gnated by name. "Self as origin", a claim inherent to the avant-garde from the very beginning, was reflected but at the same time ironically subverted.

What results is not anticipated here nor are the artworks presented in a seemingly democratic way. Rather it is a process, the dynamic of which cannot be predicted. The next two weeks between opening and closing of the show will demonstrate how the participating artists are going to de¬al with the challenge of working with one square meter. The project impo¬ses a limitation - one square meter on the wall or on the Iloor -, but the rules of the game are variable There are almost unlimited possibilities 01 taking a collective or subjective stance and formulating it artistically. The space used is the "Böhier Haus", a postwar building in the tradition of Austrian modernism wh ich is now rediscovered lor art. This setting will become a testing ground for today's freely drifting artistic imagination. Symbolic and imaginary boundaries are to be made visible as weil as transcended.

14 days later: A surprise awaits the persons invited to the closing. Not what they expected - an exhibition of the works - is to be seen but what most of them are used to seeing: the photographic documentation of art. The two-week process which unlolded in the blue grid room 01 the "Böh¬ler-Haus" can only be viewed in photographs that had been made by 8 cameras mounted to the wall. 14 x 96 square meters have now been reduced to the more rational size 01 14 square meters, the surface of the "musee imaginaire" of the catalogue.

The exclusion 01 the public at the closing was symbolic of the deli berate limitation of the photographic view. The cameras mounted in the room only documented what took place within the conlines of the outer glass walls. As a result, the only works visible at the closing were those which had subverted the given rules of the game and gone beyond the spatial boundaries (no.3, nO.31, no.97). Conceptually the blue blinds that kept the public from "experiencing" the exhibition were a litting conclusion to each scenario evoked by the project "1 square meter 01 art". The whole 14-day game was now put on hold, an artistic "psychodrama" that had ta¬ken place on this gridded stage. For two weeks the show rooms 01 the "Böhler-Haus" were an arena for the artistic ego, wh ich was rellected he¬re in an experimental setup. The artist was guaranteed his/her artistic identity - seemingly secured by a doeument - but at the same time this identity was called into question. The point of departure, a simulated ide¬al, is the square, the surface alloted to the artist. The artist's name is ins¬cribed in the suqare, guaranteeing the "subjectivity of the artist". This operational field is untenable Irom the very beginning; it is either nega¬ted, subverted or changed with a diversity of means. The "torment-ed square" becomes a metaphor for the artist's tribulations.

What is decisive about Berhand Cella's approach in "1 square meter of art" is not just the artistic production. Rather it is a very topical issue he addresses: the institutionalization of art as part of the culture industry. The show rooms of the "Böhler-Haus" were freed of the patina 01 the spe¬cifically Austrian "aesthetics of social partnership", emanating the pathos of an aesthetics 01 modernism. They were almost predestined for this through a hand-written manifest in which he tried to assert his existence (no.16).


The references to the given formal system (and metaphorically to the general system of art), the system that keeps art and the artists at bay, implied the following within this game. On the one hand, the strategic aspects which subverted these limit¬ations. on the other, the melancholy insight that these limit¬ations are inherent in the artwork.

III.No.86 NO.86 selected a figure symptomatic for the subjectivity of the modern artist, namely Dürer's "Melencholia". He used the lat¬ter's magic square, placing it in his own square. During the 14- day game the magic square was subject to constant change under the influence of the enigmatic code of the artist's imagi¬nation.

·III.No.62 NO.62 also referred to the Renaissance by expanding her squa¬re through an additional grid construction, creating a 3-dimen¬sional perspective. Whereas NO.57 usurped the adjacent no

III.No.41 man's land in order to gain a fourth of a square, No.41 in-ver¬ted this strategy. The latter made a symbolic claim to bound¬lessness by transforming the whole field into a black no man's land.

III.No.31 NO.31 projected her black no man's land grid onto the outside glass wall corresponding to her fjeld. Inner and outer wall mer¬III.No.2 ged through this optical duplication. NO.2 transformed her squa¬re into a mirror surface which catches the narcissistic gaze of the viewer with the misleading ironic-optimistic inscription

III.No.68 HIGH ON HOPE. NO.68 employs the aesthetic metaphoric of the show room and transformed her grid into a swimming pool. She tried to overcome the force of gravity in an illusionistic way. NO.17 made relerences to the daily aesthetics 01 the grid.


The participating artists accepted the given time and space structure as achallenge. The rhythm 01 the 14-day game was a decisive factor. Another was the dialectic character of the show room: on the one hand, the space was completely visible Irom the outside, on the other, it was closed off hermetically and inaccessible. In this context the lollowing squares deseiVe mention: No.2, NO.31, No.62, and NO.68.

NO.96 (Iormerly No.38) dealt with the process idea 01 the pro¬III.No.96 ject and let a slab the size 01 the square wand er from the floor to the ceiling in the course of the 14 days. NO.33

III.No.33 developed a complex system 01 relerences to the existing struc¬ture. Every day the artist placed a polaroid corresponding to

the square in the middle 01 her lield. The photograph showed a gradual process 01 change: a red balloon being blown up until it covered the lace 01 the artist and then the whole surface 01 the photograph. Once the sunace was completely recftflere was a change: square was covered with red plastic and a new photo series in green began.

NO.3 connected the lock mechanism 01 the entrance door with the ventilator on the Iront glass wall. As soon as the doors are closed the ventilator begins to work. The circulating air sets two ribbons in motion. The palindromic incription ON and NO on the ribbons relers to the relationship 01 inside and outside. NO.54 also employs the metaphor 01 the swimming pool. He

III.No.54 puts a sink on his square and closes it with a plug on which the¬Te is a sign: "DAMIT NICHTS VERLORENGEHT" (so that not¬hing is lost).

Silvia Eiblmayr Translated by Camilla Nielsen

1) Rosalind E.Krauss: The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachu¬setts, p.151-170.

2) op.cit.. p.160

Ein Dokument zu einem Kunstprozess zu dem 96 Künstler geladen wurden. Verhandlungszeitraum 14 Tage, Parzellengröße 1m2.Ort ist der ehemalige Schauraum der Böhler Stahlwerke am Schillerplatz in Wien. Der Raum mit einer Grundfläche von 17 x 4m und einer Höhe von 3m,70m öffnet sich mit seiner Stahl-Glas-Konstruktion ebenerdig zur Straße und ist in voller Raumhöhe von 3 Seiten einsehbar. Bodenfläche und Rückwand des Raumes wurden durch einen Raster in 1m2-Parzellen unterteilt. Die sich daraus ergebende Anzahl der Parzellen bestimmt die Zahl der geladenen Künstler. Jeder von ihnen erhält einen Bonus für 1m2, welcher für den Zeitraum von 14 Tagen zur künstlerischen Verfügung stand. Die 96 Quadratmeter wurden in alphabetischer Reihenfolge vergeben und mit dem jeweiligen Namen des geladenen Künstlers versehen. Mit Stellungnahmen von Monika Abendstein, Sabine Bitter, Carola Dertnig, Ilia Gallee, Katharian Gsöllpointner, Charls Kaltenbacher, Aglaia Conrad, Pepi Maier, Karl Nicolic, Paul Petter, Roland Reiter, Leo Schatzl, Andrea Stelzhammer, Johanna Unkel, Günther Wirnsberger, Uli Aigner, Franz Blaas,Robert de Zordo, Florian Fossl, Christian Gasser, Heribert Hirschmann, Thomas Kersten, Kichael Kos, Marion Matha, Jörg Olbert, Heide Pichler, Anne Rinn, Martin Schnur, Martin Strauss, Berhard Veissmann, Matthias Wolff, Gerry Amman, Bela Borsodi, Andreas Domdey, Karin Franke, Gerald Grabner, Barbara Holub, Bernhard Kleber, Attila Kos, Maria Matuschka, Martin Osterider, Uwe Pointner, Oliver Roman, Hans Schubert, Peter Stummer, Rembert Walter, Linda Zabel, Nicole Brandmaier, Julius Erhart, Manuela Freigang, Franz Greger, Nicolas Jasmin, Karl heinz Klopf, Simon Kürmair, Katherina Matiasek, Pepi Öttl, Ingrid Preisner, Daniel Rosskamp, Malte Seibt, Anne Suttner, Helmut weber, Julia Szdarsky, Erwin Bauer, Alexander Curtis, Ursula Endlicher, Ullrich Fromhold, Hans Gruber, Andy John, Margit Knipp, sigrid Kurz, Rudolf Mezensky, Gerhard Paul, Christian Qualtinger, Ruth Scala, Marco Szedernik, Ens Weissmann, Sibylle Zeh, Michaela Baumgartner, Leslie de Melo, Jonny Ferchner, Christoph Fürst, Josef Gruber, Martina Jung, Janette Koller, Christian Lang, Ina Peichl, Brigitte Reiss, Elisabeth Schafzahl, Hermann Staudinger, Josef Trattner, Bernhard Winkler, Rainer Zendron;