sechs komma vier, 2021

Christoph Weber

In seiner kontinuierlichen Auseinandersetzung mit dem Thema Ressourcen und Beton befasst sich Weber auch mit dem „Neuen Materialismus“, womit auch die Frage nach global unendlich erscheinender Materialverfügbarkeit aufgeworfen wird. Als Ausgangsmaterial für sechs komma vier wählt Christoph Weber einen etwa 200 kg schweren, frisch gebrochenen Kalkstein aus dem Steinbruch des LaFarge-Zementwerks Mannersdorf am Fuße des Leithagebirges. Er eruiert die Menge an Zement, die der gewählte Kalkstein abgeworfen hätte, und berechnet, dass in 6,4 Kopien des Originalsteins aus Beton dieselbe Menge an Zement zu finden ist. Daraus ergibt sich in absurder Formalität die Logik seiner Skulptur: 6,4-mal wird ein maschinell gesprengter und zufällig gebrochener, jedoch natürlich erscheinender Stein klassisch gegossen, und, resultierend aus der Berechnung, multipel wieder zusammengesetzt, wobei die Nahtstellen des Gussvorgangs unkaschiert erkennbar sind ‒ „ich arbeite mit, über und gegen Beton“.

Sechs Steine aus Beton in einer Reihe, die dem ursprünglichen Kalkstein nachempfunden sind. Daneben im gleichen Abstand eine 0,4-fache Version eines der Steine. Sechs Steine aus Beton in einer Reihe, die dem ursprünglichen Kalkstein nachempfunden sind. Daneben im gleichen Abstand eine 0,4-fache Version eines der Steine.



Elisabeth Fiedler, Kurztext adaptiert von Peter Gspandl-Pataki



Universalmuseum Joanneum


Christoph Weber

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About the sculpture

Concrete is defined as the material that has accompanied our economic, ecological and socio-political development since antiquity. From ancient aqueducts, the construction of the Colosseum or the Pantheon to the unbreakable bunkers of the National Socialists, from the modernist architecture of Le Corbusier to brutalism and the gigantomaniac construction of the tallest buildings and entire islands in the present day, concrete also accompanies us as a metaphor for the potential for development and destruction as well as for human hubris. A key component of this is sand, the world's most widely used and dwindling raw material. In 2020, the anthropogenic mass has caught up with that of biomass, meaning that there is more man-made material - most of it concrete - than flora, fauna and everything provided by nature.

Reflecting on this and interested in the origin, meaning, changeability and influenceability of this seemingly banal material for art production, which is contradictory between rawness, brittleness and fragility, Weber dissects concrete in order to generate differentiated formal concepts of possibility in new materialization processes - "I work with, about and against concrete" - with a sculptural self-image and poetic composure. 

As the starting material for his work six point four, he chose a freshly quarried limestone weighing around 200 kg from the quarry of the LaFarge cement works in Mannersdorf at the foot of the Leitha Mountains. There, in the middle of the former Paratethys Sea, the red calcareous algae that form today's limestone lived 16 to 14 million years ago.

In the industrial process, limestone is normally crushed further after blasting by the concrete industry, baked into clinker bricks and ground into cement. Cement is the hydraulic binder for sand and gravel that hardens concrete. Paradoxically, this hardening process only takes place through the addition of water, making concrete a liquid substance. This apparent contradiction turns out to be a tautology, within which the fluidity of the material is just as true as its stability. This is where Christoph Weber comes in.

He determines the amount of cement that the chosen limestone would have thrown off and calculates that the same amount of cement can be found in 6.4 copies of the original concrete stone. This results in the absurd formality of the logic of his sculpture: 6.4 times a mechanically blasted and randomly broken, but seemingly natural stone is cast in the classical manner and, as a result of the calculation, reassembled multiple times, whereby the seams of the casting process are visible without being concealed. This and the percentage clause used by Weber for the first time emphasize the "made" nature of the product. It is irritating in its play between the apparent naturalness of the stone and human influence, the ability to imitate and production, because the stone is sculpture that was actually formed anthropogenically. The multiplicity of an initial form, which is itself only a "fragment" or random section of a whole, also appears absurd.

Here, concrete not only changes its aggregate state. It simulates the authenticity of its original material, limestone, in its appearance, feigning the authenticity of a rock structure formed by nature that was actually produced by man-made machines. Its fractures result from the random principle of detonation strength. The questioning of the origin, the processing and re-evaluation of the meaning of the source material and the artistic setting are inherent components of Christoph Weber's thinking and work. Oscillating between the poles of raw and cooked in the sense of Claude Lévi-Strauss, that which is given by nature and man's ability to construct, the supposed original form and its ability to transform on the basis of precisely calculated deciphering processes, Weber develops a new concept of sculpture that reflects the supposed redeemability of promises of form and content.

In his ongoing examination of the topic of resources and concrete, Weber also deals with the "new materialism" - he explicitly mentions Rosi Braidotti, who overcomes Lévi-Strauss' diversion of nature and culture, deals with the relationship of humans to technology, nature and the environment and assumes nature-culture relationships as continuums. Bruno Latour's Anthropocene discourse, which reveals the absurdity of the idea of infinite economic growth on a biophysical planet and calls for an end to the dualism of nature and culture, is also essential to the work of Christoph Weber, whose thinking oscillates between these models.

Weber's reference to photography, to the question of the fragment of reality, authenticity, reproducibility, multiplicity and seriality is also clear in the work sechs komma vier. It is equally clear in the 6.4-fold edition, which results from the material composition inherent in concrete, that it is a matter of exact calculation and not of arbitrary further production, which also raises the question of the seemingly infinite availability of material on a global scale.

With this tautological loop, Christoph Weber thus addresses questions of multiplication and scarcity of resources and, in his specific sculptural approach, confronts anthropocentric influence and the biogeologically existing with laconic sentimentality: The natural-looking form of the stone was in fact already the first step of an industrial process through blasting, the materiality of the apparent image does not correspond to the original, even the succinct and yet exactly equally spaced placement in the sculpture park at the edge of the path borrows from the inflationary placement of stones of similar size to demarcate properties or to curb the parking of cars in the meadow. This raises not only the question of truth or fake, but also that of relating potential, transformation, expression and impact in a calculated and limitedly repeatable form.

In addition to the fact that the Austrian Sculpture Park borders directly on gravel ponds and a concrete factory, Weber references two other aspects of the park: firstly, it is partially located on a former landfill site, which represents an human intervention as the construction of pyramidal landscape architecture does. On the other hand, the artist places his work in the vicinity of Lois Weinberger's work made up of numbered stones, which always critically examined the concept of nature and human intervention.