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Erwin Wurm’s Motley Crew of Suits and Sausages Cuts a Rug at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
July 12, 2023
Dancing business suits, a handbag with legs, and contorted vehicles are just a few of the uncanny scenes visitors to Yorkshire Sculpture Park will encounter this summer. Acclaimed Austrian artist Erwin Wurm’s first large-scale museum exhibition in the U.K., Trap of the Truth, includes nearly 75 sculptures indoors and dotted around the landscape, plus numerous drawings, paintings, photographs, and videos created during the past three decades.
Wurm began making art with inexpensive, everyday items like used clothes, scraps of wood, and cans. As he experimented with materials and ideas, he had an epiphany: “At some point, I came to realise that everything surrounding me can be material for an artistic work, absolutely everything… That was the decisive step, as then anything was possible.” Now known for playful, surreal, and often humorous installations, the artist challenges perceptions of the human body, quotidian objects, and sculpture itself.
Wurm often tangles comically with ideas around politics and culture, referencing capitalism, cultural norms, and social conformity. By giving business suits a life of their own and transforming them from dull gray to playful pink, he separates the wearer from the symbol, freeing them to move about on their own. A giant water bottle, a much-loved object of comfort, is personified with a pair of shoes and titled “Big Mutter”—mutter means “mother” in German—along with other references to his nation’s identity and history, like anthropomorphized Viennese sausages.
The title Trap of the Truth nods to the 17th-century French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes, who immortalized the phrase, “I think, therefore I am,” as he interrogated the subjectivity of truth. Wurm captures a sense of uncanny joy, prompting viewers to question what they see and how they relate to the world around them.
Trap of the Truth continues through April 28, 2024, and you can find more on Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s website. Explore more of Wurm’s work on his website and on Instagram.
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