The artist works with public space, or to be more precise the boundary between public and private space. Kessler observes and examines social structures through interventions and recordings in urban spaces. He intervenes as a blue-collar worker in the city's infrastructure and looks at how people act in different social spaces. The exhibition presents both a selection of his videos (including four blue-collar videos), sculptures, photographs and elements used for different actions between 2005 and 2008.
Leopold Kessler works with public space, or to be more precise the boundary between public and private space. Kessler observes and examines social structures through interventions and recordings in urban spaces. He intervenes as a blue-collar worker in the city’s infrastructure and looks at how people act in different social spaces. Sometimes he repairs broken clocks, trims a tree or repaints a sign as a good citizen would do. At other times he does the opposite by turning off streetlights, making bullet holes in street signs or raising waste bins to the height of basketball hoops. These actions in which Kessler performs manual labour are described as his blue-collar works and are documented and presented as videos or photographs.
Leopold Kessler was born in Munich, Germany in 1976, lives and works in Vienna, Austria.
Some of Kessler’s public interventions are very visible, such as when he increases the pressure of the water jets of fountains so that they spray beyond the basin. Others, such as Perforation (2007) and Invented tradition (2008) are almost invisible in the urban space. These minimal works and interventions, such as bullet holes made with homemade pliers in street signs or a polished shoe of an old ‘forgotten’ public statue, appear as something that might have happened over time as the result of random change.
At Malmö Konsthall Leopold Kessler will present both a selection of his videos (including four ‘blue-collar’ videos), sculptures, photographs and elements used for different actions between 2005 and 2008. His new work Neighbours is filmed on the border between the Slovak Republic and Austria. The camera pans across apartment blocks and a typical socialist but also worldwide urban landscape, zooms in and continues across fields until it reaches a baroque palace, where several couples are waltzing dressed up in ball gowns. Kessler often comments on space and boundaries in his works, not as direct political statements but as subtle comments about social change and/or stagnation.
Two installations will also be installed in public spaces in Malmö. Kessler’s eightmetre-long shoeshine machine, at which up to 20 people can have their shoes shined simultaneously, will be located at the Triangeln shopping centre. Performed in the street or in hotel lobbies, the act of shining shoes is usually associated with social status but Kessler combines the service with a social activity, potentially bringing people from all walks of life together around the act of shining shoes. The service is of course free. The work Soda machines a and b consists of two soda machines, one in Malmö Konsthall and the other in Lunds Konsthall. The trickster machines connect the two exhibition spaces, which were built 18 years apart by architect Klas Anshelm, and create a playful interaction between the two institutions. When the thirsty visitor pays and expects a soda in Malmö it comes out of the machine in Lund – and vice versa!
The works’ intentions are often camouflaged and twisted, and their playfulness most often uses and comments on social interaction and the idea of service in public and private spaces. The works are based on the tradition of Land Art but appear more as a form of minimal urban art in which traces of actions and the artist’s presence are left behind in the cityscapes and this is what constitutes the works.
Press preview Wednesday November 26 at 11 a.m.
Opening Wednesday November 26, 7-9 p.m.
S:t Johannesgatan, 7 - Malmo