2 parts: various dimensions
Acrylic, papier mâché, rubber
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Purchase made possible by the bequest of Elisabeth Lauener
Take a Seat
Ian Anüll (born 1948 in Sempach, Switzerland) is an artist who has been operating under this pseudonym since 1969. He strives to avoid a signature style in his work as a way of undermining the cult of the artist so widespread in the art world as well as the notion of the artistic genius. In addition to painting, drawing, photography, film, and designing objects and installations, he also works with found objects from the world of consumerism and mass media. He defamiliarizes these signs and symbols through ingenious interventions in which he subtly transforms their meaning. For a long time now, Anüll has been interested in the other side of our culture of products and brand names as well as in the market mechanisms and power structures that go hand in hand with it.
Anüll delights in playing with Duchamp’s device of de-contextualizing everyday objects as much as he does in demonstrating Benjamin’s discourse of the mechanically reproduced artwork. He likes to confound our value system by turning debris into art, for example, thereby lending something worthless a new value of a different kind.
The letter R is a leitmotif of sorts in Ian Anüll’s work. As an abbreviation for “registered trademark,” it stands for the marketing of products and the world of consumption. In his artworks featuring labels, art becomes an ambiguous intersection between non-material, social, and monetary values. Anüll thus uses artifices and shifts in context to expose the mechanisms of the art world. Regardless of the artist’s position, however, he is also part of this system, where it is essential to stake out a strategic position with a personal trademark—especially as he does not want to call attention to himself as an artist. For this reason, he declared the universal trademark sign ® as his own protected “trademark” and had it branded on one of his front teeth.
Anüll’s strategy is to question everything. Instead of answers, he leaves us only with contradictions and forces us to reflect on the invasive associations these evoke. This means that his references can sometimes be difficult to decipher. Despite this, Anüll’s work always combines critical intelligence with humor, chance, and a poetic tenor. Hence, the installation “Take a Seat” can initially seem like a literal invitation, while it also demands that we take the stool and the “A” on the wall to be an artwork. By alienating signs and symbols from their original context in this way, Anüll confound their meaning, assuming a Dadaist approach based on the mutual dependence of art and life.
Dominique von Burg