The works created by Stefan Burger (born in 1977 in Müllheim, Baden/Germany, living in Zurich) are often grounded in photography even though the outcome looks quite different: at first glance, his installations, videos, objects, and stage-like representations seem to relegate photography to secondary importance. Nevertheless, with its hole in the wooden box, “Il museo è chiuso” is reminiscent of a camera obscura.
The dangling, birdhouse-like contraption with its blocked access and telltale sign informs viewers about the closed state of the imaginary museum and/or historic camera. Burger also works with art-historical references and asks general questions about the function and proper presentation of art. “Ohne Titel”, an object installation made up of round air cushions sporting multi-colored circular strips, hangs from the ceiling, in a splayed configuration. This triggers associations to targets, as well as to works subsumed under the heading of geometric abstraction or color-field painting. The work elicits questions relating to the failure of painting, or, more generally, to the failure of its modes of presentation. Is art history inflated—so much so that it needs to be held tight? How do young artists deal with this ballast? Does contemporary art production fail because of this inflated art system? In addition, “Burger toys with a certain kind of ironic detachment from his own role as producer” (Burkhard Meltzer). The work “Internationales Seifenkistenrennen, Leipzig 2002” created for Kunsthaus Baselland reviews and sounds out the limits of art-making, as well as its involvement in everyday life. The basis of this work is provided by a concrete situation in which a sculpture positioned in public space needed to be protected from the racers taking part in a soap-box race, or in which these racers had to be protected from a collision with the sculpture by car tires. With his installation Burger picks up on this and, displaying a tongue-in-cheek attitude, raises questions as to the danger of art and its potential failure.