Olaf Metzel's sculpture Cash Flow
at the ibc in Frankfurt
Deutsche Bank building on Frankfurt's Theodor-Heuss Allee, the art work
that catches the eye most is Olaf Metzel's gigantic sculpture "Cash Flow,"
a complicated construction installed in the atrium that hovers over the
heads of staff and visitors alike. Ulrich Clewing introduces the
many-layered work and its creator, who throughout his career has never
shied away from scandal and prickly questions.
Metzel, Cash Flow, Main Hall, ibc Frankfurt
© Bärbel Högner
wave rolls, but doesn't break. It spins like a curled-up peacock, as
though someone had crumpled up a huge sheet of paper. And it emits
colorful light, shimmering in yellow, orange, violet, green, and blue. Cash
Flow is the title of the sculpture that Olaf
Metzel has installed in the entrance hall of the ibc,
and some things are indeed in a state of flux here: the forms, the colors,
the contours and surfaces - everything seems as though it were in a
permanent state of smooth movement, although due to its construction, of
course, the sculpture is static.
The work’s title Cashflow
suggests a pecuniary interpretation. Yet at the same time the sculpture is
also a subtle reflection on "tuning out" at the workplace, calling various
notions of "effectivity" into question. The model for the sculpture, which
was made as a commissioned piece, was one of the so-called Bézier
Curves frequently used as screen savers. "I try to develop images from
the time – three-dimensional images," Metzel has said; "whether that’s
political or not is something I leave up to the viewer."
Flow, view from below
From the beginning of
his career, Olaf Metzel was concerned that his works refer directly to the
location they were created for. He was never interested in the pure
aesthetic of l'art pour l'art which, at least in terms of its
presentation, always retains an element of randomness.
His works are primarily site-specific, that is, in the best
of cases, such as here at the ibc, the art establishes a number of
conceptual connections to its surroundings, without all too obviously
pushing them in any particular direction.
terms of their content, Metzel's works are fundamentally ambiguous. They
function like a mirror in which the viewer can recognize his or her own
tendencies, dispositions, and associations. Thus, a sculpture resembling a
screen saver hanging from the ceiling of an office building becomes a kind
of Litmus test for the viewer's mood. The Bézier Curve: what does it
signalize? A hard-earned rest? Or an unwelcome interruption in one's work?
A meeting with the boss, or a gathering with colleagues? In short: loss of
time or gain in time? Each new day, everyone arrives at very different
answers to questions like these. On the one hand.
Photo © Bärbel
On the other, this openness of
interpretation was powerless to stop the works from meeting with more
resistance than Metzel himself would have cared to experience. For the
past twenty-five years, the artist, who was born in 1952 in Berlin and who
now lives in Munich, has counted among the leading German artists. For the
longest time, however, Metzel was known to a larger public as a
troublemaker and scandalmonger who provokes authorities and causes the
general population to rise up against him. Yet he never really did
anything but reveal what was already latently there - even if this meant
probing the regions the painter Neo
Rauch once called the "silty layers of the subconscious."
1987, Olaf Metzel was invited along with other well-known sculptors to
participate in the Sculpture Boulevard, which was to take place on
Kurfürstendamm to celebrate Berlin's 750th anniversary. Up until that
point, the preparations had proceeded rather slowly; the widely advertised
open-air show threatened to sink into cultivated boredom. When he
presented his finished work, Berliners could hardly believe their eyes:
Metzel had piled up a large number of the typical red and white-striped
police barriers into a tower that rose high above the crossing of
Kurfürstendamm and Joachimstaler Strasse.
nach Jerusalem, 2002, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, ©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn