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For the Birds
Dimensions: 217 x 262 x 143 cm 217 x 200 x 143 cm 217 x 155,5 x 143 cm
Among the many supports used by Thomas Schütte, the maquettes are one of the most important. Although at first sight they remind us of the models architects use to present their projects, these maquettes are quite different. A closer look shows us that they are made of simple materials, such as painted wood, and simple ironware accessories. The colours are unusual, with garish facades and interiors with unusual shades, and their forms and proportions are always problematic: they do not coincide with reality. To heighten that contradictory feeling of "not a real model", the scale he applies (1:20) is unusual in architecture. In that way their obvious simplicity reminds us more of the standards of an amateur than the quality a professional would bring to them. Nevertheless, there is a wish to remind us that this metaphor of the fictitious has a parallel with the models used in building. Hence the use -not at all fortuitous- of a table similar to the model. Its presence is more than just a need to solve the problem of the plinth. For the Birds has a direct precedent in the work he presented at “Documenta” X, Love Nest (1997). They share the characteristics we have mentioned with other similar works by Schütte. Many of them are ideas for artists' studios, such as Haus 4 (1983), Studio I and II (1983-84) or E.L.S.A., the initials of "Entree, Leben, Studio, Arbeit" (1989). They all share a search for an ideal situation for the artist, an isolated place for creation which is presented to us without its necessary urban environment. The maquettes are far from usual residences or workshops; they are more like palaces of creation. Likewise, Collector's Complex (1990) proposes, somewhat sarcastically, a building designed for the art buyer, who is often faced with the problem of a collection that never stops growing. For the Birds adds a closer relation with everyday reality by showing us buildings which are probably inhabited by a host of people. The imaginary buildings formulated by Schütte may in fact be effectively where we all live: the spectators, the artist and even the affluent collector. Far from being able to enter the magnificent house of the fortunate inhabitants of his other maquettes, the people living in these buildings have to choose one of the openings which can be seen on the facade and take it as their home. Through these models, Schütte spreads his discourse through a controlled space in which the rules he himself imposes take on a more solid meaning by placing themselves as a parallel, if impossible, reality. If well directed, The interpretation may be directed, since there is a direct link with reality, but it remains open: the reference he proposes to us is only one possibility among many. In his own words, architecture "emerges as one more motif among others […] since I find it difficult to work directly with nature."
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