Offsite: Erwin Wurm

September 20, 2019 - February 23, 2020

Erwin Wurm
Big Disobedience, 2016 (installation view, Collins Park, Miami Beach, 2016)
aluminum, paint
Courtesy of the Artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong and Seoul
Photo: Daniel Portnoy

Offsite: Erwin Wurm presents recent works from this Vienna-based artist that demonstrate his focus on the body and his wry sense of humour. Featured at Offsite are three works that alter and re-envision recognizable forms in order to challenge our psychological perceptions of what is well known, including our own bodies and familiar architectural forms.


Inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience,” Wurm’s Big Disobedience (2016) makes reference to the theme of political and social correctness. Half Big Suit (2016) consists of a figure fixed in an awkward position, one leg extended in the air, conveying the sense of distress experienced while undergoing a durational performance or holding a lengthy pose. The relationship between the organic transformation of the body through biological factors and the intentional moulding of objects in Wurm’s work is illustrated in his architectural structure, Flat Iron (2016). While Wurm considers humour an important tool in his work, there is always an underlying social critique of contemporary culture, particularly in response to capitalist influences and resulting societal pressures, which the artist sees as contrary to our internal ideals.


On select dates throughout the exhibition, Vancouver-based artist Mike Bourscheid will present Ledgers (2019), a performance in response to Erwin Wurm’s sculptural installation.


Ledgers is a vocal music composition based on contemporary madrigals. Three singers dressed in costumes inspired by industrial workwear respond to the surrounding urban landscape with their voices and bodies. Throughout the performance, the singers use their costumes and movements to block, direct and support their collective endeavour—the completion of the song.


Commissioned by the Vancouver Art Gallery, Ledgers is choreographed by Mike Bourscheid and composed by Robyn Jacob. Lyrics are written by Vanessa Brown and Mike Bourscheid and performed by Emily Cheung, Hilary Ison and Emily Millard. The first performance will coincide with the exhibition’s Opening Reception on September 19 at 6:30 PM.


Offsite: Erwin Wurm is the 19th installation in the Gallery’s ongoing Offsite series. Offsite is located at 1100 West Georgia Street between Thurlow and Bute Streets, west of the Shangri-La Hotel.

Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery

Offsite is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery on behalf of the City of Vancouver Public Art Program. The Gallery recognizes Ian Gillespie, President, Westbank; Ben Yeung, President, Peterson Investment Group; and the residents of the Shangri-La for their support of this space.