The Present Order is the Disorder of the Future | curated by Xander Karskens | De Hallen | Haarlem | 2007

The sandstone sculptures by Stefan Rinck (1973, Homburg/Saar, Germany) are gruesome figures, although they sometimes do look funny or comical – seemingly without any intentional irony involved. They present themselves as menacing mythological characters, who, although having time-traveled to an era in which their original status has become obsolete, they refuse to surrender to their new context. Due to their unpolished finish the sculptures have a primitive countenance, adding to their bizarre appearances: some of Rinck’s sculptures remind one of medieval gargoyles, others of products of regional folklore. The artist plays an intricate game with symbolic function and cultural meaning, using ideas about historical developments as a cyclical process, in which artistic production behaves as a more or less autonomous body that is transformed and reloaded with new meaning over time. Rinck has used examples from history, fairytales and German folklore as reference material, but it is through very precise observation that the artist enables the figures to be subjected to contemporary quirks – turning the character into an idiosyncratic evolution of the original idea.

Unter Der Blinden ist der Einarmige König is a one armed dog-like figure, dressed in a sort of tunic with an heraldic emblem. This one armed king creates associations with tyrannical leaders and their powerful aesthetic symbols, whereas the Habsburgers New Model obviously also comments on political history – though more comical, due to the exaggerated medieval hat and ruff. The connotations of Habsburgers New Model point towards a satirical jesting on one of the most influential families of European (and Germanic) history. The power and the strength of the family has been downsized into an understated humorous figure, commenting on the contemporary dealing with contaminated pasts, while at the same time negotiating the conflicted status of sculpture as a symbol-conveying medium.

Xander Karskens