Michael Schuster

Betonboot, 2003 [concrete boat]

The boat is a functioning objet trouvé discovered by a roadside in Slovenia. It is therefore not an object that was originally created to be a work of art, but rather it is a found object that only becomes a work of art by being installed on a pedestal—or in this case Dieter Kienast’s landscape architecture. The particular impact of this sculpture comes as a result of its positioning in the park itself. This leads to a conversation between the object and the landscape—on the one hand, the boat refers to the bathing lake behind it; on the other hand, it seems to be stranded in a landscape of artificial waves.


Michael Schuster’s work interlinks media-reflexive and conceptual actions with image- and object-like references. His “Betonboot” is a reflection on location-specific factors in a sensually objectual form: first of all, the boat refers to the leisure area with its lake for bathing that is situated near the sculpture park. It seems as if the boat has been catapulted from its moorings and landed among waves of a different kind – in these artificially created rolling hills, whose pleated profile is still reminiscent of the original purpose of the site, when it housed a garden show.


Schuster thus does not simply put up a sculpture in the park, but rather makes the history of the park and the surrounding area the subject of his work. The site with its artificial “waves” quasi becomes part of the work, a kind of natural mooring for the boat that has been uprooted, and that at the same time requires the larger environment of the site as its natural context, even if it only ends up on its edges.


Because this is not a “real” boat in the sense of a material replica, but clearly a boat that has been cast out of concrete, the object reveals itself as the sculptural representation of a real thing, thereby again alluding to the function of the park as a sculptural space that accommodates artificial-artistic creations that are mostly made of heavy, massive materials.


In this work, Schuster interlinks the representation of the realities of everyday life in a leisure context with a reflection on the function of the sculpture park, its content and its specific site. Through the deliberate irritation from and reference to the outside world, we arrive at a state of increased clarity with regards to the inside, the core of the park. Of course, this “stranded” work of art may also be read as an ironic allusion to the overall sculpture park theme.

Author: Rainer Fuchs 
Plan & Overview: Position 45
Owner: [property of the Private Foundation Austrian Sculpture Park]
Biography: Michael Schuster

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