Universalmuseum Joanneum, various locations
Curator: Adam Budak
A cross-departmental, pan-Styrian, polyphonic project directed by Simon Starling & Superflex, with Super Eggs by Piet Hein designed in light of a mathematical formula by Gabriel Lamé set within a museum founded by Archduke Johann of Austria following an elliptical epiphany by Johannes Kepler.
Midway through its Bicentenary Jubilee Year, Universalmuseum Joanneum, Austria’s oldest museum, founded by Archduke Johann, is proud to present e.g., a cross-departmental project, conducted by Simon Starling & Superflex as a series of infiltrations within the rhizomatic and polyphonic collections of over 4 million museological objects. Rites of origin and of fertility lie at the point of departure for this simple yet bewitched and bewildered proposal which leads towards establishing parallel worlds of objects and their relationships and setting up alternative storylines along the dominant (not only) museological discourses. As an alien colony, a family of Super Eggs, based upon a prototype, an elliptical Super Egg, designed by Danish scientist and poet, Piet Hein (1905-1996), according to a mathematical formula by Gabriel Lame, lands within the expanded knowledge-fields of the Joanneum’s cross-scientific departments that, together with their collections, constitute the museological substance and the institutional apparatus of the Universalmuseum. Neither round nor rectangular, yet fixed and definite, the super-ellipse is an in-between construct – a physical and mental compromise for humankind, imprisoned in form and pattern. One of its most successful applications is the roundabout in the square Sergels Torg in Stockholm, the ground zero of the Super Egg…
Starling & Superflex’s e.g. consists of nine narratives, featuring nine stainless-steel Super Eggs of various sizes and weights (from 30mm of 200g to 600mm of 750kg), unfolded through a time-span of the aniversary year within the Universalmuseum Joanneum’s spatial and discursive contexts – from the Planetary Room of Eggenberg Castle (itself designed around an astrological template) through the Kunsthaus’ exhibitions, Measuring the World (as an estranged counter-partner to Pistoletto’s Metrocubo d’Infinito) and Antje Majewski’s The Gimel World. How to Make Objects Talk? (coincidently coupled with the phantasmagoric Standard Egg of Polish Conceptual Artist, Pawel Freisler), the Super Egg’s voyage continues across scientific departments of natural history and archeology (inhabiting storerooms and archives or laid amongst Styrian archeological treasures in display vitrines) and through the vast collections of the world’s largest armory and the image bank of the multimedia collections (contemplating its loneliness on a deserted attic or on a shelf of an empty depot, respectively), down to the most intimate location: a hand of the Sculpture Park director, carried on a daily basis as a lucky token or an anti-stress device…
Brechtian at its core, Starling & Superflex’s e.g. speaks a meta-voice, generating (chance) encounters, articulating (unconscious) relations and triggering (possible) sub-narratives along the instiution’s official trajectories of programming and structure. Distancing and alienation enhance interaction and unexpected connectivity. Possessing a transformative power, if not alchemical qualities, as a hybrid of a companion or a substitute, a friend or an enemy, a parasite, the Super Egg sets up a hall of mirrors for the museological object to be critically (self)reflected and thought anew. It becomes an agent of the universal and the heterogenous, a vehicle to grasp the world – „a ticket to another planet“… Here, on its shiny, polished surface, the microscopic and minute confront the unlimited and the infinite, opening up a territory of the universal, where aesthetics and science collide, where magic and meaning converse, where Columbus meets Borges meets Kepler meets Tesla meets Freisler meets Lennon (aka the Eggman) meets…
Waiting for the epiphanies, what immediate truths will be revealed?
The Super Eggs at Universalmuseum Joanneum
Viewing of the following Super Eggs on appointment: Sculpture Park (Elisabeth Fiedler), Botanic Collection. The Super Eggs in the Armoury and the Multimedia Collections are not accessible.
1) Lecture by Carsten Thau
The Egg, the Super Egg and the Mirror – Enigmatic Objects and their Effects, or the Alien Nature of a Mathematical Formula
Wednesday, 16th November 2011, 7pm, Kunsthaus Graz, Space04
Prof. Carsten Thau will give an insight into the world of Danish scientist, inventor and poet, Piet Hein (1905–1996) and the mathematics of his Super Egg and Superellipse. He will focus on the principle of mirrors and the egg-shape from an art historical perspective as well as he will analyze the idea of alien objects and their impact on an existing context.
Carsten Thau is Professor in the Architectural Department of the Royal Danish Academy of Art and former Professor of the Institute of Modern Culture at the University of Copenhagen. He has written many articles and books about architecture, design, urbanism, visual arts and film (amongst them, a monograph on the life and work of Danish architect and furniture designer, Arne Jacobsen. Recently he published an anthology of texts on relationships between architecture and philosophy as well as a collection of essays under the title “Architecture as a Time Machine”.
2) Film Program curated by Simon Starling & Superflex
Tuesday, 22nd November 2011, 7pm, Kunsthaus Graz, Space04
- Tales of Tomorrow, 1951-53, dir.: Franklin J. Schaffner, 25min, Engl.
American television series, including the episode based upon 1897 H.G. Wells’ science fiction story, „The Crystal Egg“, featuring, amongst others, Leslie Nielsen, Paul Newman and Rod Steiger. A crystal egg reveals live tableaux of the planet Mars. A 19th Century scientist is obsessed with investigating the crystal, but the antique shop owner who came across the seemingly worthless glass hopes to sell it ASAP to a tall, insistent stranger, for whom no price is too dear. The delay while the scientist experiments on the egg makes the buyer even more desperate.
- Attenborough and the Giant Egg, 2011, dir.: Sally Thomson, BBC Two, 60min, Engl.
Documentary, featuring the elephant bird egg which celebrated naturalist and broadcaster, David Attenborough discovered on his first filming expedition to the Madagascar in the 1960s.
- EGG. The eggs in her eyes, 2005, dir.: Yukihiko Tsutsumi, 73min
Japanese horror movie, narrating a story of a woman who sees an egg every time she closes her eyes.
(Japanese with English subtitles)
The Film Program is a subject of change as the Kunsthaus Graz continuously researches the screening rights.
8020 – Graz