Maurizio Cattelan’s sculpture and deceptively life-like scenarios confront the view with a plethora of meanings. His works oscillate between an absurd sense of the comic and an existential sense of the tragic, permitting a reality to surface between tears of laughter or of joy that seem enlarged as under a microscope.
This artist is a storyteller marked in equal measure by virtuosity and perfidy. He leaves his viewer behind in the hope for a happy ending, yet it is hope inseparably associated with a sensation of fear and a hazy dread of looming disaster. Death is one of the most recurrent themes in Cattelan’s work. It is a dark screen against which the seemingly amusing, funny, and disrespectful aspects unfold a deep and menacing seriousness – in Cattelan’s work as in reality.
For the Stommeln Synagogue project, the artist developed a work in two parts that transcended the geographic boundaries of the original showroom and that, on the wall of the church St. Marin, condensed into a complex tale about the historic interrelationship of religions, their limits and possibilities and universal feelings of guilt and hope.
There is a custom at Eastern that connects the two sites once a year. In a procession that starts at the synagogue, the congregation moves through Stommeln, crossing the railway right of way, and lighting the Easter bonfire at the old church St. Martin.
The poster image conceived by Cattelan, a stuffed toy placed on top of the rail of a railway track became an integral component of his overall production, and directed the visitor to the historic perspective of the work. Back at the synagogue, however, the viewer finds what appears to be a peaceful picture. Young shoots grow out of the tops of two old shoes, new life evolving unexpectedly from strong roots, facing a precarious future after a cataclysm. Ex negative, Cattelan’s work testifies to human presence, an absent existence condemned to nomadic migration.