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Chaos gets canned at the Kunsthalle in Zurich

Untitled piece, typical of Manfred Pernice's work Keystone

Zurich's museum of modern art - the Kunsthalle - is holding an exhibition of works of the German sculptor, Manfred Pernice. He subscribes to the theory that psychological torment and feelings of inadequacy are a key part of the creative process.

The 37-year-old Pernice says mental suffering, – of the kind caused by feelings of inadequacy, futility, and failure – can trigger moments of inspiration.

His inspiration and creativity is derived and sustained by the city where he lives and works – Berlin.

“The transformation of Berlin and the friction between the city’s different elements is an important background for his work,” says Kunsthalle director, Bernhard Bürgi. “He’s alluding to real architecture and to social aspects as well.”

Pernice constructs architectural forms and structures out of the most simple materials. Most often he uses cardboard, plywood or chipboard.

“It’s important for him to start with modest means,” says Bürgi. “We live in such a high-tech world now. But as a child you use very basic things to create spaces with and for your imagination and this is a good way of understanding his work.”

The walk-in installation at the Kunsthalle is called “1a Canfield ’00”. Constructed from wooden containers and cylinders, it gives the impression of constant change, as the visitor moves through it.

Each of the cylindrical “cans” is different. Some are topped by flashing light bulbs, others are open, revealing their insides; one container has a video showing a Berlin ruin.

“The motif of the can is very important in Pernice’s work,” explains Bürgi. “He’s speaking about the ‘cannification’ of the world. That means we’re always trying to categorise everything. He’s more interested in the chaotic nature of things.”

Pernice also uses photos, texts, plans and other images to subvert the sculptural field.

The exhibition leaves the visitor confused by the juxtaposition of so many different artistic forms. But the chaos at the heart of the show is a central part of Pernice’s questioning of our “canned” existence.

The exhibition runs until October 22.

by Michael Hollingdale

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR