Erwin Wurm

Double Bucket


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Not on display

Erwin Wurm born 1954
Performance, person, plastic buckets and plinth with diagram instructions
Overall display dimensions variable
Presented by the artist, courtesy of Lehmann Maupin, New York 2017


Double Bucket 2009 is a performance from Erwin Wurm’s extensive series of One Minute Sculptures in which people carry out unconventional interactions with everyday objects such as clothing, buckets, balls, doorframes, bicycles and even perishables. The interaction is held for a period of sixty seconds. Double Bucket materially consists of a low plinth and two plastic buckets. The instructions on how to perform the piece take the form of a drawing on paper by the artist as well as being hand-drawn by him on the plinth itself. The viewer is invited to complete the artwork by acting out the formation determined in the diagram and maintaining it for one minute. Here, they are encouraged to step fully inside one bucket and to place the other bucket on their head. The effect of acting out this sculpture is one of unusual behaviour, particularly in a museum setting, creating an illogical still-life which is both humorous and provocative. Wurm first began making One Minute Sculptures in 1988, and has since been continuously contributing to the encyclopaedic series in myriad locations around the world. The series spans the range of media central to Wurm’s practice, namely performance, sculpture, drawing and photography, and seeks to blur the distinctions between them. Photographs and video act as permanent records of the performances (see, for example, the photographs in Tate’s collection showing anonymous participants, performers, curators, artists and even the artist himself engaging in a range of One Minute Sculptures, P82011P82018, P14777P14816); but each work comprises the entirety of the performative process and its documentation.

In Double Bucket – and the wider series of One Minute Sculptures in general – Wurm challenges not only the physical relationship between human and object with unconventional pairings, but also the individual and societal perception of self and one’s surroundings; in this instance, conventions surrounding expected behaviour in a museum setting and interaction with art objects and other visitors. Furthermore, his embrace of the everyday object invites the viewer to reconsider its function or use and momentarily embrace the irrational and absurd. Like much performance art, the One Minute Sculptures engage with notions of interaction, activation and the temporal. Art historian Stephen Berg has pointed out that, although re-imagining the traditional notions of sculpture as a medium, Wurm is still engaging with some of its basic qualities such as emptiness, possibility and volume (Stephen Berg, ‘The Ridiculous Human Tragedy’, translated by Michael Turnbull, in Berg 2009, p.48.) Wurm also produces large-scale sculptural work and installations, such as his anthropomorphic Fat Car series and Phone 2015, in which he examines both spatial and psychological relationships with the material objects that abound in contemporary daily life.

Further reading
Kate Bush and Michael Newman, Erwin Wurm, exhibition catalogue, Photographers’ Gallery, London, 7 December 2000–21 January 2001.
Peter Wiebel, Erwin Wurm, Osfiltdern 2002.
Stephan Berg, Erwin Wurm, Cologne 2009.

Sarah Allen
February 2017

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