Thuistezien 130 — 27.12.2020

Eva Scharrer
Gustav Metzger – Stockholm June

‘A 120 cars would be parked around a square structure of about 2,5 and 4-meters height. Sites would consist of perforated transparent plastic sheets. And the exhaust fumes of the cars would be let in the structure and the cars were supposed to run from morning to late night for the duration of the conference June 1st to 14th. And then, in the night to the 14th, the cars would be brought inside the structure and neatly parked along the sites, then filled the fuel and started. Then the structure will be covered with sheets. If the cars were not gone up in flames by the 15th at noon, small bombs would be thrown inside the structure.’

These are the instructions of the work Stockholm June by the artist Gustav Metzger (1926-2017) that eventually was chosen to participate in the 2007 Sharjah Biennial. A work originally submitted for the climate conference in Stockholm in June of 1972 where it was not realized. The project was intended as a reflection of a question of pollution which Metzger was dealing with in the beginning of the 1970s, at one hand foreseeing the forthcoming environmental struggles and on the other the rapidly advancement of technology and automation. Despite being nearly 50 years old, the work, to this date, appears relevant while the problem remains current.

In her talk, art historian and curator Eva Scharrer gives a personal insight in how her impactful first meeting with Metzger in 2006 led to a collaboration between the two in bringing his work to the upcoming 2007 Sharjah Biennial. A fundamental feature of Metzger’s artistic oeuvre is his life-long opposing of environmental destruction. With the topic of the biennial being the environment, Metzger’s work seemed well-fitted due to the paradoxical contrast between this subject and biennial’s location, being in a city where the economy is based on fossil fuels. Scharrer describes the planning, the process as well as occurring complications of realizing the extensive and slightly unsafe work in a time as well as location completely different from its original intention.

Text: Rosa Zangenberg