Peter Weibel

Die Erdkugel als Koffer, 2004 [The Globe as a Suitcase]

With this work, to be seen in the traditions of Conceptual Art and Land Art, Weibel brings us close to the boundaries of perception. An oversized suitcase’s handle embedded in the heart of the landscape allows the beholder to assume that the globe is a huge box filled with data, organisms and objects, which are also, for their part, carriers of information. One is reminded of Kant who pointed out that, on their own, neither sensory experience nor the mind are sufficient to obtain real knowledge of the world. Mind and sensory perception need to be brought together for the development of knowledge.


We have stored everything we know about ourselves and the world in databases, archives, libraries or other storage devices. We try to record everything we think is important and will help us to learn about our existence and its conditions, in either analogue or digital form. We also carry parts of it along, in the form of laptops and analogue containers such as suitcases.


Hence we are not only that what becomes visible through our physical sphere: even upon adding the spiritual component, we still remain incomplete. We are also everything we have, what we deal with, express and carry around with us. We are our own suitcases, too. So, if we are on a small scale what the world is on a large scale…


Philosophers, artists, scientists demonstrate to us, that our material and physical life is an illusion and that reality should be sought “outside” – anywhere – just not right before our eyes. We are confronted with this almost everywhere, stretching from Plato’s allegory of the cave, to Hollywood films such as “The Matrix”.


Weibel, the critical poly-artist and theoretician has been making reference to this since the early sixties. In his work “Der Globus als Koffer” (The globe as a suitcase), which is to be understood in the tradition of concept art and Land Art, he also takes us to the limits of perception. An enormous suitcase handle placed in the middle of the landscape conveys to the audience that the globe is a huge container filled with data, organisms and objects, which, again, are carriers of information.


We are reminded of Kant, who made reference to the fact that neither sensual experience nor reason alone will lead to real insight. Reason and sensual perception are to be brought together in order to make insight happen. Weibel, in his role as an artist and theoretician, has packed this into his suitcase in order to be able to take it with him on his path to cognition.

Author: Günther Holler-Schuster
Plan & Overview: Position 54
Owner: [property of the Private Foundation Austrian Sculpture Park]
Biography: Peter Weibel  

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