objekte - magazin nevertheless 05 (engl)

magazin nevertheless 05 (engl)


Szilvia Ortlieb is a sculptor of the old school, in the lineage of Jann Haworth, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse or Niki de Saint Phalle. She is a master of material, whose work is strong without being heroic, and convinces by its subtle dignity. In one of her particularly fascinating sculpture series, resonanz  (Resonance, 2007) Ortlieb has taken a large stone and made reproductions of it in stoneware. Each further cast stone of clay gets smaller and smaller through the firing and drying process. The goal is to create enough generations of stoneware sculptures, shrinking infinitesimally, until the object disappears.


Flexible as stone
Strong as paper
Heavy as air


A stone takes thousands or millions of years to create; making a stone disappear in this way opens the mind to concepts of time stretched beyond the limits of human life. The impulse is the opposite of the mother urge traditionally attributed to women. Instead of giving birth to children in order to continue the line of the family, Szilvia Ortlieb makes continual casts, first of the “mother stone” and then of its reproductions, so that they finally disappear. Her post-structural feminist approach is fascinating, but refreshingly, always playful.


Things are never as clear
As they seem to appear
And the future is not what it seems.


A complete sensualist, Ortlieb continually invites the viewer to participate in the richness of her experience. One of her preferred materials is Limoges porcelain. She makes stacks of porcelain sheets of “paper”, as delicate as Swiss Thins and just as enticing.  Or she rolls the sheets and places them tightly together, creating a dance of light and shadow, in works such as Spekulation Über Raum, Licht, Struktur, Zeit und Grenze I (Speculation About Space, Light, Structure, Time and Border I, 2007). The philosophical implications of the title of that work are explored in all that she does.


Welcome to my world, where the impossible is an every day occurrence.


In works as small as her porcelain pickles or in larger than life tractor tire inner tubes (Pneu. TR218A, 2012), she demonstrates that she can push her chosen material beyond the border it was conceived to have, inspiring awe and amazement, as if Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception has taken form. Szilvia Ortlieb’s exploration of sensuality reminds us not only to enjoy reveling in our senses, but also reminds us as well of the limits our senses have, that we are aware only of a small portion of the spectrum of all there is to experience.


© Text: Renée Gadsden, 2012

szilvia ortlieb
obere gwendtgasse 5, 3430 tulln a.d. donau, tel.:+43(0)699-10660880
fotos: rainer friedl und szilvia ortlieb