Alex Heim
text  | CV
The Great Plastic Vortex
Art Basel - Statement 2011 (Galerie Karin Guenther, Hamburg)

"In the altered scheme of nature proffered by Heim, conventional distinctions between 'natural' and 'man- made' are disrupted. Rather than holding up the moral card of environmentalism, the artist's observations appear to provide a view of nature in which everything has its place." (Melissa Gronlund) In his new work, Heim engages with a phenomenon, recently dubbed as the 'Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch': A huge area in the centre of the North Pacific Gyre, where allegedly vast amounts of plastic debris are amassing in the circular current; recently leading to much vivid speculation. In Heim's installation the sound is circling around his sculptures, which share strange resemblances with car-parts and mutant creatures. In the video, a layer of objects is floating in a never-ending flux of changing shapes. The ambiguous range of forms and materi- als presented alongside one another, have a mesmerizing, hallucinatory effect on its viewer.
Alex Heim’s work cuts loose traditional hierarchical bonds, which unite art objects with those of mass cultural decent in an authoritarian relationship. Art here starts outside its own realm, more precisely even outside that of what is traditionally named as culture. Heim expands the concept of culture fundamentally, in starting from an actualized understanding of its other – na- ture. As Gronlund has attested, nature in Heim’s work lacks the nostalgic romanticism, which still figures as its primary identification. Heim’s sculptures and films characterize a nature, which emanates from the objects performing within the present, a second nature, so to say, one, as Lukacs remarked, are identified by life according to capitalist measures of production and reproduction.
Heim at the same time seems to disintegrate and integrate those surfaces of second nature: identifying its defunct parts, building a microcosm of debris, a landscape of mechanical parts on the way to their disintegration – and at the same time - beautifying them, taking them seri- ously as individual characters. Heim turns second nature towards nature, one might say. His objects build on the division of labour, on its archetype, car production. From it he uses lamps and mirrors, the eyes and ears of the vehicles, to assemble an army of new creatures, inani- mate but uncannily corporeal. His glazed forms shine and oscillate between different shades of decay, which he cultivates into series of symbiogenesis. Heim presents an art which articulates cultural remnants of use value in their re-naturalization.
This gesture, the reintroduction of the everyday in art, of course, carries a longstanding his- tory, starting not only with Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades but, in this case more tellingly, with George Bataille’s amalgamations of natural and cultural processes. As in Bataille’s world, also in Heim’s resemblance is not so much a sense of identification but much more one of an exceeding formlessness, which the objects of industrial production fall pray to, once they have left the cycles of productivity.

Kerstin Stakemeier

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