Out of Afrika & Schuckelbär
Opposite the country parlour there is a newly restored room in which a typical country bedroom is to be reconstructed and opened to visitors as part of the Local History Museum. As part of the Biennale, this as yet empty room contains works by Susanne Bierwirth. On entering the relatively small, low-ceilinged room through its only door we discover two more closed doors. One of them does not appear to belong in this environment, since it is the kind of door we would expect to find in a modern multi-storey residential block, not least because it has a peep hole typical of such tenements. If we look through this hole we see a model interior: a living-room. The three miniature plastic figures, which are familiar to us from model railway scenarios, are moved through this living-room by motors. Whenever the two larger figures – two adults – leave the room, the smaller one – the child – appears, and vice versa. Behind this constantly repeating micro-mechanism we can see another brightly lit room which, being a model, appears to have been decorated with wallpaper bearing a photo mural. Seen through the peep hole, this domestic game of cat and mouse in the living-room seems surprisingly realistic. Exactly as if this scenario were really taking place behind one of the doors of a block of flats. It is secretly homely – little ways out behind closed doors. Another part of this installation dating from 1996 and entitled „Out of Africa” is a photograph of an apartment door – once again a typical tenement door with the peep hole – which Susanne Bierwirth has hung on the wall in an elegant cherry-wood frame.
The artist has incorporated a second piece into this spatial situation. On the floor we see a thick piece of foam rubber, approx. 40 x 80 cm, on which a small pink cuddly toy – apparently a mixture of a bear and a pig – is moved backwards and forwards by an electric motor. „Schuckelbär” („Wobble Bear”) is the title of this piece, and what we see happening to the cuddly toy in its mechanical cradle, which directly appeals to our protective instincts, seems at the same time nurturing and calming and intimidating and brutal.
Susanne Bierwirth (D): Out of Afrika, Installation, Tür mit Türspion und elektronischer Modellbaukonstruktion, Fotografie in Kirschholzrahmen, 41 x 33 cm, 1996, Lampe, Gardinen, PVC-Auslegware
Susanne Bierwirth (D): Schuckelbär, Stofftier, Motor, Schaumstoff, ca. 40 x 80 x 15 cm, 1996