Vienna-based artist Heimo Zobernig hardly needs an introduction, and for coordinates for his new Texte zur Kunst edition – a small black box made of cardboard and resin – one need look no farther than his transformation of the Austrian Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, where Zobernig has canceled the building’s distinctive architecture (its tile floor, light-shedding clerestory windows, classical tripartite arches) by laying a black plywood ground and filling the upper register of the space with a monolithic black construction. It’s an apt metaphor to say that such occupation of all registers is characteristic of Zobernig’s work, which is known for its ability to carry a line of critique through a dizzying spectrum of forms (as he has in his now three editions for this journal, riffing on the interminable black square) – and yet never to such an extent that these associations congeal into didactic correlation.
For this edition one may find, for example, in the box’s corrugated material support, a reference (perhaps) to the telltale and once contested fluting on the Austrian Pavilion’s façade; or in its colorless form, a link to his obscuring of the pavilion’s proto-modernist halls. (In fact, this piece is a recreation of a unique work he made in 1991). It’s been said that Zobernig operates with laconic precision, and yet one is always called to determine for oneself where, exactly, the punch line hits. With this untitled “black box,” does he offer a theater or a mausoleum, a recording device or the sacred Kaaba? Whatever you surmise, it’s scaled to be held in the palm of your hand.
Synthetic resin varnish, cardboard, 10 x 10 x 10 cm, edition: 80 + 20 A.P., numbered and signed on the bottom.