Tobias Pils

Zog den Helfer unterm Teppich hervor, 2004 [Pulled forth the helper from under the carpet]

Two poles carry mirrors with imprinted texts on one side, which were developed together with writer Ferdinand Schmatz. The statements only partially refer to the concrete site. Whereas ‘Haufen Werfen’ (throwing heaps) alludes to the artificial hilly landscape of the park, the other text represents freedom of thought. Additionally, the title of the work deals with semantic dynamics. Meanings are not rigid, but variable phenomena. This is conveyed by the mirrors turning in the wind. They reflect an ever changing reality and thus change their contents continuously. 


The sculpture by Tobias Pils consists of two poles with mirrors that were set up at a fork in the path, with words and sentences printed on one side of each mirror. The texts, only some of which refer to the specific location of the sculpture park, were developed in cooperation with writer Ferdinand Schmatz. The phrase “Haufen Werfen”, a pun on the several meanings of the word “Haufen” (heaps) in German, alludes to the artificially landscaped hills of the park, while the poetry of other sentences on the mirror represent free thought.


The title of the work “zog den helfer unterm teppich hervor“ also talks of semantic dynamics, of a tightrope walk between pithy words and their meanings, which remain open. The message that meanings are never fixed, but should rather be seen as phenomena that are open to change, is not only projected by the words on the mirrors, but also by the mirrors themselves, which keep twisting and turning in the wind. As the mirrors never reflect the same scene twice, their content changes permanently.


The two paths, the two mirrors and the two texts symbolise two worlds that refer to each other on a dialectic and also on a factual level whenever one mirror is reflected in the other. Pils’s approach is based on the assumption of a real path and a dream path, two components that differ from each other but still depend on one another for their respective definition.


This work interlinks openness and direction, freedom and norm. Although the mirrors keep turning and producing different reflections, their rotation is based on a precise construction, and the mirroring depends on the strict physical principles of reflecting light. That the mirror poles are also reminiscent of flagpoles, with the associated images of flags flying in the wind, but also of universally binding sign systems for national and ideological collectives and norms, adds yet another dimension to this structure of relational opposites.

Author: Rainer Fuchs 
Plan & Overview: Position 49
Owner: [property of the Private Foundation Austrian Sculpture Park]
Biography: Tobias Pils

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