Creating a portrait of our society in the form of three-dimensional images is Olaf Metzel’s (b. 1952 in Berlin) stated artistic intention. Few other German sculptors bring our contemporary situtation and collective memory so sharply into focus.
Metzel’s fundamental aim is to give shape to our time by making current concerns visible and initiating a discussion of important sociocultural issues. Images from daily newspapers permeate Metzel’s current artistic output, which reflects political and social realities such as the current immigration and refugee situation. Almost all of his artworks since the 1970s have addressed themes of (state) power, control, surveillance, media politics, exclusion, migration and violence – and have also examined what role these play in the realm of leisure, among them in the world of football.
Olaf Metzel’s work was first presented in Nuremberg in 2006 when, as part of an art project to accompany the football World Cup, he installed the sculptural piece Auf Wiedersehen on the Hauptmarkt. Consisting of 780 football stadium seats, it temporarily covered up the “Schöner Brunnen” fountain and – like so many of his works in the public sphere – caused great controversy. What got overlooked in the heated debate surrounding Metzel’s contribution, however, was his ability to create artistically and conceptually refined sculptures that skilfully combine formal-aesthetic intentions with incisive observations on current events.
Now, 10 years later, Olaf Metzel has been invited to mount a solo show at the Neues Museum in Nuremberg, for which he has developed a nuanced presentation that will further the discussion of his work. In the exhibition Deutsche Kiste, Metzel explores a range of themes he considers to be particularly important at the present time and provides compelling insight into his current sculptural practice. dermaßen regiert zu werden (2015) is the title of a new, large-format installation. Layered with contemporary references, this panorama of society is both an aesthetic portrayal of our time and a critical reflection of current debates.