Elisabeth Schlebrügge: Elisabeth Grübl puts things in order
The artist does not waver long. She enters the room with a goal, looks about and then swings into action, moving chairs from the walls, shoving the desk into the center of the room, removes pictures from a hook, takes down the calendar. She stacks rolls of drawings and video cassettes, pours pencils in a pile, pushes the mouse trap out of the corner, turns the wastepaper basket upside down.
How things, off kilter, removed from their familiar context, can fall into place, constituting a rectangle, a cube, how the transformation into a sculpture can come about. Reflection and experimentation. Stacking and rearranging until it can be solved, the riddle, a sudoku in space, the square egg of Columbus
As if all of the objects had jumped into their new order at the clap of your hands.
Compressed into a temporary sculpture that which only a moment ago made up the artist’s studio, an ephemeral configuration, only a photograph to recall it. Condensation is a key principle in Elisabeth Grübl’s work, but unlike dream work it is not about coding meaning (which has to be snuck in past the censors) but about eliminating sense. A quasi-dadaist act (unlike the expansive Merz building for which the ceiling was broken through to the next floor) which is dictated by the given delineation of format. The rule of the game being that nothing can be left out and nothing added, making do with everything found in the space, on site, for each thing its place, layered and sorted, all the elements at one’s disposal, without a hierarchical order, doing away with any spaces in between, such as the cut logs, in the wooden frame, on the wall of a mountain shed.
As if Elisabeth Grübl were counteracting the dissolution of individual pieces, in an inversion of the laws of entropy, working towards their implosion. Allowing a transitional space, a transitional sculpture to emerge in a restrained act of arbitrariness. A sculpture without a function and a treatise on form, the theory of the sculptor.
A movement of inversion, creating an optical illusion, a tilted image.
A breather, a moment in which space becomes time, an extended present in which nothing happens. Once the sculpture is completed, a beckoning respite from creative labor
Someone who offers their studio: provided there is a relation of trust between the artists, so that the renovation, even if it is only a temporary one, is not perceived as an attack, an aggressive act but perhaps as a new order, liberation, being able to see it in that light as well.
Dissolution of ingrained causalities, conventions one has become enamored of, sequences of movements and habits no longer called into question.
Yet it remains uncertain how the studio owner will react, once confronted with fait accompli, if with bated breath. Scenes from a Hollywood comedy appear before one’s eyes, where the protagonist’s teary gaze follows the arm of a crane which moves his favorite red cabriolet pressed into a compact cube of sheet metal, onto a garbage heap, or if the hosting artist turns around the threshold, with shrug of the shoulders, and liberated from the day’s drudgery heads towards the next café.
A precarious intervention. It’s a studio after all, never an arbitrary place. Since Leonardo’s day the artist’s sanctuary, the innermost space, the cella, a room that is heavily laden, a place for concentration (whether the artist is dusted with flour, wrapped in silk or plucking the lute, in any conceivable configuration between mental space, workshop, cyber-headquarters). All material subordinated to the exigencies of intellectual work, a place where you must stay, even if nothing happens as Bruce Nauman described: “Unfortunately, there are always long phases in which I cannot do anything, because nothing comes to mind. ... And so I go to the studio every day and be it only to read or to take a nap. The main thing is that I’m there. Otherwise, as I know, things do not advance.“ (1)
What will happen if the objects are robbed of their availability, the last remnant of usefulness pressed out of them, vanishing into the sculpture. Things put in order, straightened up.
Will traces remain, invisible.
Will the bare walls continue to have an effect, the space reemerge, when it is seen anew, and with it the consciousness of the artist’s existence, the artist’s body whose correlate and hollow form is always the studio.
Will it will have been the profanation of a mythical place, the disenchantment of the tools when reduced to being merely objects, or even a displacement that sets something free, not just space that emerges all around but a breaking free from fixed moorings, detached from the mobility of things, with an eye on a possible new arrangement, tilted images of what one is so used to seeing and no longer sees at all.
A reverse movement in this ironic variant of appropriation art: a deconstruction of the path which once led the definition of art from the substances, the treasures and weights of the materials used to the concept, to the concetto, the disegno as a criterion of assessing what the essence of an artwork can be.
Sculptural reflection, exemplarily: also among those who do not own a studio. Considerations set free regarding one’s own state of being furnished within spaces and one’s relation to things in general: a coup, disquieting for those who love order as well as for the chaotic ones, regardless of whether one is one of those who in a second’s time are able to wreak havoc in a hotel room with the contents of their handbags spilling out all over the place. Or those who can keep track of the number of objects in their house (any new acquisition is preceded by a something being ditched), obliged to account for their own zen convent fantasies and glory-hole realities.
In Elisabeth Grübl’s straightened-up rooms there is a period of grace for thing, suspending a decision on which guidelines are to be followed, which principles of arrangement between compressed and disseminated, furnishings between austerity, elegant asceticism or excessive opulence, abundance. The tamer of things, doing without, parting with, accumulating objects that one might be able to use again. Bits of fabric used for children’s carneval costumes, old newspaper clippings, or paying tribute to the fears of earlier generations, a stash of forgotten tin cans from the fifties, which for years could still explode with a dull bang.

(1) Bruce Nauman in a conversation with Hanno Rauterberg, Die Zeit, Oct. 14, 2004