April 21, 2001
Opening Friday, March 9, Anton Kern Gallery will present work by German artist Manfred Pernice. The exhibition will consist of two installation pieces, Sieg and “infrastructure .” This will be the artist’s second solo show in New York.
“Infrastructure” was made for an exhibition at the Institute of Visual Arts in Milwaukee in 2000. The work is based on the history of Fred Usinger, a sausage maker in Milwaukee who left Wehen, Pernice’s home village in Germany, over a hundred years ago to make his fortune. After happening upon Usinger’s now-famous shop in Milwaukee, Pernice wove his own narrative around the story of the Sausage King, using coincidence, associations, memories and clichés to construct a history.
The architectural sculptures look to half-timbered houses, the vernacular architecture of Wehen, for their formal inspiration. Made of poor materials, chipboard, plywood, and cardboard, they house a video projection and a monitor mounted inside the sculpture. The video images show a mural painting with dwarves incorporated by Usinger into his factory architecture and advertising. Equivalents of these dwarves have uncannily appeared in popular TV culture in Germany decades later, supposedly “born” in Wehen.
Pernice’s installations are not final in their original state, they are conceived so that they have the possibility for further development and different modes of assembly. To reconstruct “infrastructure” in New York will be to retell the story from another perspective. The second sculptural installation is titled Sieg, taking the title of a novel by Joseph Conrad, relating less rather than more to the plot of the novel. The work encourages the reading of the book.