Adam Budak
art critic and curator
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Mirrored Stories

The work of Peter Demetz
by Adam Budak

The sculptural work of Peter Demetz (1969) further develops the performativity and spatial manipulations, announced by Romana Prinoth’s photographic “surgery” of reality. Here too, the spectator encounters psychic interiors, dioramas of a soul and a thought, staged within ascetic and anti-monumental miniature-chambers, carved with a unique geometrical precision and clarity within the bright fabric of lime tree wood.  Performing the acrobatics of depth and flatness, Demetz’s little theaters of human affairs and private worlds are masterfully illuminated reliefs that challenge the spectator’s perception with their spatial unfolding and seduce with their illusion as well as with their photographic quality of represented world. Outside of clearly defined time, within an anonymous, almost abstract space, they are haunted places of high spiritual intensity, stages for people’s ordinary poses, situations and matters, based upon the artist’s own observations or his own photographs and models – the friends’ casual conversations, an intimate touch, a glance in a passage, a moment of a deep thought, self-reflection, a secret encounter, a rare feeling of belonging, a sadness, a solitude, a collectiveness, a sense of communal spirit, suspended in a vacuum of a phantom-like space. Such is Demetz’s collection of gestures, his intimate diary-like showcases of reflection - mirrors of people’s emotions and elemental passions, acted out with a unique refinement in a stillness of a reduced architectural context. The artist emphasizes the relationship between the figures and the architecture and underlines the spatial play of proximity and distance. He explains his work as follows: “Bei meiner Arbeit interessiere ich mich besonders für die Spannungen und Wirkungen, die von Figuren und Räumen in ihrem Zusammenspiel erzeuget werden. Die Menschen sind dabei wie Behältnisse, wie Gebäude in denen eigene individuelle Welten existieren. Sie stehen genauso im Bild, wie die architektonischen Elemente und bilden einen Raum. Die Szene lebt von der Distanz und von der Nähe der einzelnen Teile untereinander. Diese Räume sind so was wie Ausschnitte, sie geben der Zeit, dem Licht und dem Raum selbst eine Begrenzung. Es sind Inszenierungen. Es sind gestellte Szenen. Sie beschreiben keine Geschichte, Begebenheit oder eine Handlung, sondern leben von der Wechselwirkung der einzelnen Elemente“. Playing with their threedimensionality, „commuting“ between the surface and multilayered structure and exposing their compressed spatial volume (often not exceeding the size of ca 50 cm x 60 cm), Demetz’s sculptures engage the spectator in an active process of viewing and participating, provoking often an irritation via optical instability and changable gestalt, depending upon the spectator’s movement and an angle of viewing. The spectator’s eye (and in fact the entire corporeal presence) is invited to enter the altar-like interior and to experience its contemplative ambiance and spatial habitat. Conceived for the 3rd Trienala Ladina MIRRORED STORIES exhibition, Demetz’s sculpture, entitled „....“ is a mise en scene of a split self: „bühnenbild“, spread through the doubled space of the exhibition, frames a solitary female figure, an isolated actress on a stage of the theatrics of civilisational alienation, immersed in a necessary process of revisiting the humanities’s ethical paradigms. According to the artist, his work may function as „ein gedanklicher Spiegel, der die Situation des Betrachters reflektiert. Der Betrachter überdenkt (soweit er sich mit der Arbeit identifiziert) seine eigene Position, sein Verhalten, seine Wirkung in der Ausstellung. Der Betrachter ist in derselben Situation wie die Frau in der Skulptur”.

Adam Budak
Graz 2011

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