Kubus. Sparda Art Prize 2013
Thomas Locher – Kathrin Mayer – Alexander Roob
With the idea of promoting contemporary art in Baden-Württemberg, the “Kubus. Sparda Art Prize”, awarded by the Sparda-Bank Baden-Württemberg and the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, was launched in 2013. Nominated for the first “Kubus. Sparda Art Prize” were Thomas Locher, Katrin Mayer, and Alexander Roob. The prize was awarded to the chronicler and draughtsman Alexander Roob, a long-time professor at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design.
The work of Thomas Locher (b. 1956 in Munderkingen) focuses on communication systems developed by humans. In his text-image compositions, expansive wall works and installations, he visualizes the functionalities and laws of language, as well as its possibilities and limits. He analyses how social relations are expressed through language and investigates the influence this has on the relationship between the subject and its environment. In Locher’s work, especially the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights thus become linguistic fields of reference, in which he provides the wording of ordinances with markings, additional points, and comments. His ‘Marx-Tafeln’ (Marx Panels, 2007–09), which quote selected sentences from “Das Kapital” by Karl Marx, deal with linguistically composed power apparatuses.
With “memoiré et doublier” (2013), a large-scale, site-specific work developed especially for the exhibition, Katrin Mayer (b. 1974 in Oberstdorf) refers to the redesign of the Kleiner Schlossplatz by the artist Otto Herbert Hajek in 1969 – long before the Kunstmuseum was built on this site. At that time, Hajek staged a multimedia happening and painted the square with so-called “Farbwege”, colored striped and rhombic patterns.
This happening was intended as a kick-off to the revival of the square and followed Hajek’s idea of giving public space back to the citizens and creating new places of communication. Mayer translated these patterns into a black-and-white carpet landscape that spreads out in the space and can be walked on. By isolating elements of these patterns and placing them in a new context, Mayer traced the goals and hopes that were associated with art in public space in the late 1960s.
The installation by Alexander Roob (b. 1956 in Laumersheim) brought together various focal points of his work. As Director of the “Melton Prior Institute for reportage drawing & printing culture”, which he founded together with Clemens Krümmel in 2005, Roob is not only an artist, but also a scientist and curator. At the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, he used the example of the development of reportage drawing in England in the early nineteenth century to investigate the role artists can play in the “democratization of social systems”. In his installation “porter/re-porter”, Roob juxtaposed the political-interventionist works of the writer, wood engraver, and reformer William James Linton (1812–1897) with investigative prints by the copper engraver and archaeologist John Thomas Smith (1766–1833). The exhibition was rounded off with drawings in which he documented everyday situations and work processes.