Michael Sailstorfer / Spatial experiences

German artist talking about speed, engines, the lives of sculptures and metal music in conversation with Maria Abramenko.

I was amazed by your first London solo show at Konig Gallery 2 years ago, specially by the sound installation  D.A.V.E.L.O.M.B.A.R.D.O., named after Slayer’s drummer. Can you tell us more about the work and it’s concept?

I heard this drum solo by Dave Lombardo and was totally impressed straightaway. So I decided to create a portrait of Dave and his solo by digitalising the music piece and building drums that are played by pneumatic robots. By arranging the drum parts all over the room, the piece of music can never be heard as a unit. Only by inspecting the exhibition and walking through the entire installation, the visitor gets an idea of ​​the solo. The dissection of the drums and the solo engender a shift in meaning and rearrangement, in which the visitor becomes both involved in the role of accomplice and part of the work. I consider this artwork as a holistic, spatial experience.

You often use engines in your work, where does the mechanical inspiration coming from?

Actually, it’s not about the mechanical inspiration, it’s more about the temporality of the artworks and their ephemeral character. My intention is to vitalise my sculptures, which can be achieved by movement. Therefore, mechanics is only a means to an end. A good example is Tank 1 and Tank 2 (2020): two old petrol tanks that are communicating with each other by breathing. The old tanks are filled with new content and life, almost becoming human.

What is the role and importance of smell in your installations?

Spatial experience is of high importance. It’s created by the interaction between object and viewer. I was always interested in the question how a sculpture asserts itself in the space creating its own independent existence and how physically smaller sculptures can extent their presence in the space for example through sound or smell. Working with smell affects the visitor emotionally, triggering memories, stimulating his central brain right away whereas other, less intense experiences or impressions have to pass the cerebral cortex first and might not last as long.

Is there a project you have been thinking about and did not make yet?

There are many projects whose scale is so gigantic that I will be probably not be able to realise them in the near future or maybe even ever.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on new brain sculptures. Formed out of interwoven ropes, the brains illustrate the complicated process of thinking, whereby the gravity of this process manifests itself in endless mind loops. Arranged as a group, the brains interlink with each other, they complement themselves creating energetically charged settings.

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