Artwork of the month April

Absalon, Cellule no. 5, 1992


* 1964 in Ashdod, Israel, † 1993 in Paris

Cellule no. 5, 1992

Wood, cardboard, cushion, paint, fluorescent lights
405cm, ø 240cm

Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz

Cellule no. 5 is one of a total of six cells – living units – that Absalon developed in the early 1990s and executed as 1:1 models. Varying in size from 4 to 9 square metres, the white constructions are all "tailor-made" to the artist's proportions and – with their diminished scale – encase their occupant in the manner of protective armour, almost literally like a third skin.1 Reduced to existential needs – sleep, intake of food, bodily hygiene – Absalon's intricately conceived cells create a self-contained system that necessitates adaption of the inhabitant's movement patterns: "The Cell is a mechanism that conditions my movements. With time and habit, this mechanism will become my comfort." Which associations, which memories are evoked by such a construction, form- fitted to a person's body?

While Absalon's reduced vocabulary of functional forms reference the history of modern architecture and in particular the architecture of Le Corbusier, the artist resists the utopian idea of improving existence through the design of habitat: "I change for change's sake, and not to do better. Contrary to a revolutionary, I really do not need any excuse to dream about this change." Unlike Le Corbusier's universal system of proportions, the so- called Modulor developed to supply architecture with a measure oriented to the human scale, the dimensions of Absalon's living cells are geared to his own body.

Absalon planned to install these six housing units – which together form a whole – in a public space in the cities of Frankfurt, New York, Paris, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Zurich and to inhabit them in regular intervals. This choice of site for the structures delineates a tension-filled boundary between public and private. Constructed solely for the artist, the white cell provides him with a possibility of retreat and thus both (spiritual) freedom as well as protection and isolation – and hence, through its form and placement, serves to confront and question the public space in its relation to the private.

Denise Rigaud

<b>Absalon, Cellule no. 5, 1992</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.