6 parts: various dimensions
Printed pencils, box
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by haus bill, Zumikon
5 Works by Lawrence Weiner
“Art that functions has no metaphor. It doesn’t have a value structure necessary to understand it. But every human being who comes to art has a need, a desire, for metaphor. They make the metaphor for your work.”
When the Conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner (born 1942 in New York, USA) made this remark in 2012, he and his interviewer were standing amidst throngs of visitors at the documenta 13 in Kassel next to one of his works exhibited there. This work was a glass pane dividing the room, boasting the following message in capital letters: “THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF THE MIDDLE OF.” In his typical tongue-in-cheek manner, Weiner explained that there always is “a middle of a middle of a middle,” and that it is all just a matter of what we regard as context, or metaphor.
This was Weiner’s fourth time participating in the documenta as one of the most important representatives of Conceptual Art. He is known not only as a theorist (his book “Statements” was published in 1968 and is one of the founding texts of this art movement), he is also an artist known for his language-based artworks, which he calls “word sculptures.” These can take the form of different media: videos, posters, audio recordings, performances, and (most commonly) large wall texts and installations. For a major retrospective of his work at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf in 2008, he attached a 100-meter-long message to the façade of the museum that read “VIELE FARBIGE DINGE NEBENEINANDER ANGEORDNET BILDEN EINE REIHE VIELER FARBIGER DINGE” (Many Colored Objects Placed Side by Side to Form a Row of Many Colored Objects) (1979). He also printed another message on a streetcar saying, “EINE LINIE GEZOGEN VOM ERSTEN STERN DER ABENDDÄMMERUNG BIS ZUM LETZTEN STERN DER MORGENDÄMMERUNG” (A Line Drawn from the First Star of Dusk to the Last Star of Dawn) (1995).
Weiner displays his poetic messages not just in public places, but also on everyday objects, including buttons and matchbooks that he makes available as multiples. His “5 Works” in the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv are also everyday objects that have been transformed into message carriers, inspiring our imagination by evoking images without giving them a fixed shape. The repetition of the word “graphite” acts as an anchor that directs our thoughts back to the material quality of the five pencils.