Preserved food raises the problem of form vs. content in a very particular way. For what do a can and its sleeve say about the taste of the sealed comestible on the inside? Manfred Pernice has every reason to see these containers as emblematic embodiments of fundamental questions about art, like the dichotomy between artistic form and semantic content. Or so one would think, looking at the oeuvre of this sculptor, in which cans are an omnipresent leitmotif. The edition Pernice has conceptualized for “Texte zur Kunst” is likewise based on two tin cans. The artist has painted a can of sausages – slightly tapered in a double-conical shape – with bands of black, red, and yellow, the colors of the anti-nuclear movement. A printout of Ferdinand Hodler’s Alpine lake panorama “Lake Thun with the Stockhorn Mountains” adorns a second can with pineapple slices. The title of the work, “Permafrost”, indicates that Pernice combined these two elements to create a contemporary memento mori: The hourglass shape of the first can, a symbol of transience – painted in colors suggesting the fear of radioactive pollution, it also recalls a nuclear plant’s cooling tower – toward the hubris of attempts to rule the world with technology without being able to control the associated risks. Permafrost soil, art, and preserved food, meanwhile, refer to values that ostensibly last forever. We might read a grim warning against the reckless exploitation of resources. The edition’s motto is “Consume the content – combine the cans”, as the empty containers may be used as vases, pencil holders, or tabletop bins. But once you’ve eaten it all – once everything has been consumed or melted away – nothing will be left but a bit of tin. Bon appétit!
Manfred Pernice, Dosenset: "Permafrost", 2012, Two cans, 11.5 × 8.5 × 8.5 cm and 11.5 × 7.5 × 7.5 cm, Edition: 100 + 20 A.P., signed and numbered, 290,– Euro plus shipping.