About the objects of Hildegard Skowasch

And what can I say about them? In colour they were not white or black and certainly bore no intermediate colour; they were far from dark and anything but bright. But strange to say, it was not their unprecedented hue that took most of my attention. They had another quality that made me watch them wide-eyed, dry-throated, and with no breathing. I can make no attempt to describe this quality. It took me hours of thought long afterwards to realise why these articles were astonishing. They lacked an essential property of all known objects. I cannot call it shape or configuration since since shapelessness is not what I refer to at all. I can only say that these objects, not one of which resembled the other, were of no known dimensions. They were not square or rectangular or circular orsimply iregulary shaped nor could it be said that their endless variety was due to dimensional dissimiliarties. Simply their appearance, if even that word is not inadmissable, was not understood by the eye and was in any event indescribable. That is enough to say.

Flann O’Brien
The Third Policeman
Lancer Books NY 1967

Not only the fantastic literature of the 20th century but also the arts have been driven by the quest for the strange – incomprehensible and indescribable – object. This search, aware of its own futility, knows that you can hardly escape the familiar.

Art which focuses on the concrete object for its aesthetic deliberations, has used the ready made and objet trouvé to develop strategies of alienation when dealing with everday things. These objects, otherwise part of the normal commercial traffic of goods designed for a special purpose, are now set free and can be adopted in aesthetic terms.

With the objects of Hildegard Skowasch, one first finds a “body” made by “traditional” means, of paper and paste. It bares the marks of the craftman’s hand, integrating familiar scraps of daily life – wallpaper, plastic tubes, pieces of furniture. The arrangement of the various parts make a peculiar impression: one is reminded at once of a functional apparatus and a human body, which makes one think of mutants, but with no archetypes. Their outrageous clumsiness and their utter lack of any imaginable purpose arouse our curiosity, but we are also touched by their ludicrous anthropomorphic form. This confrontation between the unknown and the familiar now becomes the subject of art.

Eva Schmidt

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