Angelika Loderer’s sculptures might be classified as media-reflective art: the characteristics of the materials she uses and the manufacturing processes are fundamental parameters informing the design process. Her sculptures are frequently made of cast metal or secondary materials from the metal casting workshop—wax, for example, or special molding sand, which, because of its high level of form stability, is particularly well suited for casting. It is essential for the production of the mould proper but leaves no trace on the finished product—it is effectively invisible. Loderer makes this auxiliary agent her medium to “build” fragile and temporary sculptures; consisting of molding sand, they allude to metalworking while also initiating an inspiring and paradoxical dialogue between the durability of the one and the ephemeral quality of the other. Her creative approach is characterized by the improvisational and experimental uses she makes of her materials: unconventional combinations yield appealing objects that sometimes suggest a sort of “performative sculpture.”
The centerpiece in the exhibition at the Secession’s Grafisches Kabinett is an ensemble of new sand sculptures and pictorial objects, the results of the artist’s most recent experiments with fungal mycelia. Work on the new series began with sketches for sculptures to be made out of tamped sand; the finished works combine three grades of molding sand—each with its own characteristics and colour—with custom-designed metal constructions in fragile temporary formations. Though highly malleable, the sand sets limits to the creative will, the process of making plays out between artistic intention and the potentials of the material.
Loderer’s interest in processes that elude her control also inspired her to experiment with a mixture of fungal spores and wood shavings—first in her sculptures and most recently at the intersection of sculpture and painting. A set up that was initially meant not for the exhibition but as a stand alone project for the artist’s book to be published in conjunction with the show turned into a series of performative pictures. Not unlike the sand sculptures, these works result from the combination of two interacting materials and the effects of chance: the artist filled found acrylic glass boxes with wood seeded with fungus into which she then placed photographs. Over the following weeks, she documented how the spores developed into fine webs, while the photographs were gradually damaged by moisture and fungal growth. The series of small-format pictures provided the model for the large-scale picture objects in the exhibition: a pixelated image—a greatly magnified shot from the Internet—shows an equestrian monument with innumerable casting channels, marking the connection to the sand sculptures. A second, entirely abstract picture shows the mycelium overgrowing a porous structured mat. The network of fungal filaments will become increasingly distinct over the course of the exhibition, recognizably altering the pictures. The gradual transformation of the pictures contrasts with the fragility and temporality of the sand sculptures.
Loderer’s sculptures bear witness to the interplay between snapshot and durability and the ambivalence of value, perishability, and meaning. They also call conceptions of value in question by enhancing simple and commonplace forms with precious materials.