The artistic practice of Klaus Scherübel (b. 1968 in Bruck/Mur, lives in Montreal) is based on an investigation of different cultural productions ranging from the visual arts and literature to fashion, cinema, and theatre. In his works, which can be site-specific or serialized and long-term, Scherübel adopts various roles—the artist at work, the editor, the producer and character of a sitcom, the sponsor etc.—in order to challenge the function of the artist in the sphere of current cultural processes.
Echoing the structural organisation of a multi volume book, Scherübel presents his work in form of so-called Volumes, that he attributes to artworks, exhibitions and publications alike. The exhibition “VOL. 19” represents the latest component of this book to come.
At the centre of the exhibition is the project “Reconsidering Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play” [VOL. 10], in which Scherübel, in the role of editor, (re)produces and publishes the supposedly failed work of the author figure Jack Torrance from Stanley Kubrick’s horror film “The Shining” (1980). In the film an acute creative crisis leads Torrance to develop a highly ambivalent piece of work: a text that self-critically manifests his inability to produce a literary work. Its content consists of a single sentence: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” He constantly rearranges this sentence into new text formats ranging from the newspaper column to concrete poetry, repeating and thus creating hundreds of text-images. Whereas in the context of art or literature, the Torrance artefact can be read as a significant contribution to the history of conceptual media and interdisciplinary strategies, in the film it is not recognized as a work, but as a sign of artistic failure and a symptom of escalating psychic indisposition.
“Reconsidering Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play” is an attempt to take Torrance’s artistic legacy out of its cinematic context and away from the perception connected to it, to instead turn it into an independent work—taking into account its interdisciplinary nature—by transposing it into the context of art where it can be viewed in new ways.
With “Adaptation (Bartleby)” [VOL. 23], Scherübel is furthermore presenting a new image/text work that refers to Herman Melville’s short story, “Bartleby, the Scrivener, A Story of Wall-Street”, as well as to Spike Jonze’s film “Adaptation.”, based on a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman. The text is about a copyist named Bartleby who is employed in a law firm on Wall Street. Over the course of the story Bartleby increasingly rejects the work expected of him with the words, “I would prefer not to.” The film is self-reflexively about the problems encountered by its screenwriter as he tries to adapt a book.
In Scherübel’s performative adaption of Melville’s story, Bartleby’s motif of doing nothing encroaches upon the process of production itself. Initially, the material is transferred into the field of the performing arts, yet ultimately it appears in the form of theatre photography, as both an announcement and a documentation of a production that will probably never be presented.
The installation “Untitled (The Artist at Work)” [VOL. 5] is part of an ongoing series of photo/text-based works picturing Scherübel himself in the role of the artist. The transposition of this well-known genre into the context of a conceptually working artist leads to an ironic shift of meaning, which is typical for Scherübel's practice. He appears in various places such as cinemas, landscapes, and tennis courts, engaged in activities that are contrary to notions of labour based on efficiency, productivity and performance. While the content of the images seems to claim a sort of emancipation from material production, the photographs/installations—viewed from the point of view of their materiality—re-inscribe this conceptual activity in the materialistic logic of art. The images rather show Scherübel absorbed by thoughts - emphasizing the conceptual aspect of his activity.
"To expose, to show, to demonstrate, to inform, to offer. Artistic Practices around 1990," mumok, Vienna (2015)
"... AN DIE ARBEIT... Über künstlerisches Produzieren,“ Landesgalerie Linz am Oberösterreichischen Landesmuseum, Linz (2015)
"Mallarmé, O Livro,“ Centro Universitário Maria Antonia USP, Sao Paulo (solo) (2014)
"Learn to Read Art: A Surviving History of Printed Matter,“ 80WSE Gallery NYU Steinhardt, New York (2014)
"Punctum – Reflections on Photography,“ Salzburger Kunstverein,
"Bibliologie, Livres et éditions d’artistes dans la collection du Frac
Haute-Normandie,“ Frac Haute-Normandie, Rouen (2014)
"Extending Kippenberger’s METRO-Net," Notre-Dame-des-Bois,
Québec (solo) (2013)
"Fotos – points of view in Austrian Photography from the 1930s until today,“ 21er Haus, Vienna (2013)
"Reflecting Fashion. Art and Fashion since Modernism,“
mumok, Vienna (2012)
"Questions d’images,“ Carré d’art – Musée d’art contemporain de
Nîmes, Nîmes (2012)
"Le Charme discret d’un espace alternatif,“ Silver Flag Projects,
Montréal (solo) (2011)
"the Avantgarde: Specters of the Nineties,“ Marres – Centre for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht (2011)
"The Perverse Library,“ The Laurence Sterne Trust at Shandy Hall,
"Long Time No See,“ The Brno House of Arts, Brno (2010)
"Mallarmé, Het Boek,“ S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst
Gent (solo) (2009)
"Learn to Read Art: A History of Printed Matter,“ MoMA PS1,
New York (2009)
"UN COUP DE DÉS. Writing Turned Image. An Alphabet of Pensive
Language,“ Generali Foundation, Vienna (2008)
"SOME MORE NOTES on the Phenomenology of Making: The Search for the Motivated,“ Fonderie Darling, Montréal (solo) (2008)