Martina Kaiser
Cologne Contemporary Art

Memorials of childhood

About Uta Weber’s artwork

In his notes published in 1934 in the „Green Box“, Marcel Duchamp described as the basic idea for all readymades „the idea of interaction between art and everyday life”. Uta Weber’s objects also work with this idea. According to Duchamp’s terminology they belong to the group of “rectified readymades”. That means that the artwork she creates is based on familiar manufactured objects, yet these have not been deployed by the artist in their original form, but rather “rectified”.

The familiar manufactured objects that Weber uses as models for her artwork are sweets that we know from childhood. Weber retains the original shape, but she alters the size, the material and sometimes also the colour. By making them larger, they take on a sculptural presence in a space or on a wall. Weber reinforces this impression both when she displays her art as a solitary sculpture or as a group.

The vocabulary of constructivism is ever present one way or another in Uta Weber’s sculptures inspired by sweets but without its ideological severity and its inherent yearning for ultimate aesthetic shapes and formulas. Constructivism has substantially codetermined the art of the last century and, as an ideology, integrated its concept of art into the daily life of society. It is quoted in a playful way in Weber’s art and is mocked for its overarching pretence.

Subtle criticism is, however, only one aspect of Weber’s art. The other much more important ingredient is the inherent poetry. The artist’s works conjure up a “land which lingers long before it disappears” as described in the famous poem “The Carousel” by Rainer Maria Rilke. In this childhood realm the artist as homo ludens discovers the playful child in herself that she has never forgotten. Weber’s sculptures conjure up the child in us. The magnification triggers a childhood perception of scale. Her art is less object than magically transformed subject. As such it reminds us of a time in which the world appeared to be a magic kingdom to be discovered anew every day.

In Rilkes poem the things talk for themselves without the comments of a lyrical first-person narrator – appearances are made by “the colourful horses”, “an angry, red lion” and “now and then a white elephant”. In a similar way Weber engages us without any personal commentary. The artist doesn’t make a statement, but the “Smarties”*, the “Liebesperlen”** and the “Campinos”*** do speak for themselves. Yet Uta Weber is no less present in her work than Rilke in his poem. This presence is evident through the consistent and discreet form. It is through this form that these sculptures become memorials. They remind us of Marcel Proust and his remembrance of childhood: the poet found the essence of this far away time while eating “Madeleines”.****

*       brand name of a German candy
**     name of a German chocolate candy
***   brand name of a German hard candy
**** small French sponge cakes

Michael Stoeber

From the German by Erika DavisKlemm