Michael Sailstorfer

Mrz 11, 2016


Michael Sailstorfer challenges the idea of the sculpture. Whether inside or outside, each of his piece does not immediately reveal its identity as art and thus confronts the field as such. His pieces are mainly distorted utilitarian objects. Wheels, drums, stereos – every material has to be recognizable and speak about the creation process itself.

For Me, a group show currently running at Schirn, Sailstorfer reflected on his self through his appellation. His name appears in large letters questioning the core component of it. Does a name form an identity? Can we exist through a name only?

We sat down with Michael Sailstorfer and discussed his works, the art market and commerce.

Wertical: You are known for bringing together elements that usually do not go together. How did you first start this practice?
Michael Sailstorfer: I’ve adopted this strategy since the very beginning of my artistic practice. Connecting elements surrounding me, as to address compelling themes, occurred quite naturally. In my early piece Waldputz [2000], for which I cleared a forest area according to a geometrical shape, what interested me was to condense the contrary conceptions of wild nature and manmade geometry into one image. More generally, visualizing contrasts triggers spaces of association, which the viewer can relate to, spinning them further.

W: What is a sculpture for you?
MS: A sculpture is a three-dimensional object that claims its presence in an existing space and in relation to the viewer.

W: Objects are a crucial part of your work. Is it a reflection of society?
MS: Objects are crucial elements of everyday life. Inscribed by time and by usage, they bear material witness to their context of origin. Also, integrated in art pieces, and persisting in time, they can acquire further meanings.

W: You are constantly reinventing yourself through your work. Is there a medium that you haven’t tried yet but intrigues and attracts you?
MS: I’ve never done a stone sculpture – probably because my father had a stone workshop. I could see myself working with stone as soon as I come across the right idea.

W: Art is becoming a commodity more and more. High auction results, people buying art as an investment and artists collaborating with big brands are proof of this. How do you see this development and how do you react on it?
MS: I’ve never seen art as a commodity; neither do I care much about the art market. What interests me as an artist is, in the first place, doing the next good piece – or the next good project.

W: You are currently collaborating with Swedish fashion label COS. How does this fit your concept? Why did you agree to this collaboration?
MS: Over the last years, I’ve realized a number of large installations and performances. In the framework of my partnership with COS, I got the possibility to carry out a project which I’ve envisioned for a long time.

W: What is the collaboration with COS about?
MS: The public performance Silver Cloud draws upon my performance and video piece Tränen, wherein iron tear sculptures were released from cranes to fall, sculpting the landscape while undergoing a formal consumption. This time, a steel casted cloud is repeatedly suspended from a crane boom, and then released onto a cement ground. With this performance, I’m interested in recalling the experimental and yet rigorous language of early minimalism. The piece refers to Michael Heizer’s use of a demolition ball in his 1969 Bern Depression. It grounds on a play of lightness and heaviness which can visceral be perceived during the performance, and which takes on a more oneiric form in the documentation. The piece merges natural and artificial forces. It thus relies on my long-lasting interest in conceptions of nature and technology.


ICH, Ausstellungsansicht © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 2016, Foto: Norbert Miguletz


ICH, Ausstellungsansicht © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 2016, Foto: Norbert Miguletz

Michael Sailstorfer

60311 Frank­furt