totes Kapital (Dead Capital)
Wilhelm Mundt

In his exhibition totes Kapital (Dead Capital) at Neue Galerie Gladbeck, artist Wilhelm Mundt presents a complex spatial installation that can be read as a sculptural extension and gives the exhibition its formative title.

Exhibition totes Kapital (Dead Capital)
Artists Wilhelm Mundt
Date 14.04.2023 - 25.06.2023
Curator Luisa Schlotterbeck
Venue Neue Galerie Gladbeck
Text Luisa Schlotterbeck
All images Courtesy by the artist and Neue Galerie Gladbeck. Photo: Jana Buch

A room made of black industrial rubber boarded up the former reading room of the Neue Galerie’s old building. Negating the architecture, Mundt creates a new space whose interior initially evokes unease and trepidation. Crematorium, slaughterhouse, and underground parking garage are associations that buzz around in the viewer’s mind.

Black and white Trashstones, which vary in shape and surface texture, can be found inside. Partly scattered, partly heaped, their membranes seem to merge with the space in some places, creating an amorphous image. Chalk marks and notes by the artist reinforce the strange alchemical character of the installation, which is underpinned by the intense smell of the rubber; footprints call physical relationships into question. An unusual image, since the stones usually seem to have fallen out of the world – like Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels (1973-76), they could just as well be in the desert – now it is we who have fallen out of the world and enter the space, like monkeys an unknown planet.

In fact, the oversized Trashstone 532 (2011-2023) is trapped in a cage in the large exhibition hall. The color of the cage matches that of the stone, implying its belonging. A paradox? Who is being protected from whom here? With the sculptural confinement, the artist generates an animistic force of action that supposedly brings the lifeless and rigid matter to life. In doing so, he does not underpin the corporeality of the trashstone solely allegorically.

Where inside and outside aggregate, the boundaries between sculpture and installation blur: What is sculpture? Where does it end? Are we a part of it?

In a figurative sense, the expression dead capital does not only imply unused knowledge or skill or the lifelessness of economic material; it also refers to living capital – the capital of mortal man – as Beuys sought to explain it: beyond the materialistic narrowing, after the expansion of the concept of art, human capital is human ability and its form.

Wilhelm Mundt explores and provokes the limits of sculptural work and reverses – so it seems – the relations: the outside becomes the inside, the figure becomes action, the dead becomes animated. Contradictorily and at the same time quite naturally, the artist dissects his own actions and condenses dialectical tensions into a new space of experience.

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