Matta Wagnest

Labyrinth, 2005

Labyrinth is a huge, open glass cube that, instead of blocking the landscape, presents an unrestricted view. When looking at the sculpture, the gaze condenses on the glass, and, at the same time, is offered the picture of a landscape. The glass acts like a screen, catching the vision: a monitor presenting the ‘world’, similar to a television or computer screen, but at the price of the separation and the distance from it. The glass screen’s designation as a labyrinth makes clear that the wide open visible is no less mysterious than what is concealed or hidden. 


The labyrinth is a structure which stimulates a searching movement. The famous Minoan labyrinth was a construction which led through a number of bends to a central bend, and from this, all the way back to the starting point, via the same turns. The Baroque period interpreted the labyrinth in the form of garden mazes, where the purpose is for the seeker to get lost, to experience a general loss of orientation. In this respect, the garden maze is/was symbolic of the world.


Matta Wamnest’s “Labyrinth” is a giant, open, vitreous box which does not block the view of the landscape; on the contrary, it grants the view without curtailment. Allusion to an inversion of the regime of orientation and vision is thus made, which has become paradigmatic for the modern period. The game of invisibility and removal, which necessitated closed and shrouded spaces (the crypt, the disassembled), is converted into open, un-disassembled visibility in the modern period.


In Matta Wagnest’s sculpture, the view condenses on the glass, on this pure transparency, whilst simultaneously resting on the landscape. The glass acts as a screen which captures the vision, a screen which presents the “world” as in the way that a TV or computer screen would, although at the cost of its separation and distance from the former.


The designation of a vitreous screen as a labyrinth makes it clear that something which presents itself as visible is no less mysterious than something which is shrouded or hidden, as it expounds the problems of the system of vision and occurrence. Size and situation designate it furthermore as a construction or a spatial installation which adds an incarnate experience of the limitations in cinema format to the visible aspect, and which occurs in front of a truly present landscape.

Author: Elisabeth von Samsonow 
Plan & Overview: Position 59
Owner: [property of the Private Foundation Austrian Sculpture Park]
Biography: Matta Wagnest  

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