THE ADVERTISING COLUMN
Graz, Austria (2004)
“Temporal Art”, a project organized by Group77 and the Künstlerhaus (“Artists’ House”) in Graz, Austria, becomes the platform for Gerhard’s many-dimensioned artwork telling the story of humankind’s interconnectedness.
The project: Gerhard was part of a select group of Styria’s premier artists chosen to take part in this one-of-a-kind competitive project. Each artist was to create and realize an artistic design for a 16m2 advertising column in Graz’s City Park based on the project’s theme, Temporal Art and to share it with the public for 1 month in July, the hottest month of the year in Austria. Gerhard had chosen to work with his favourite medium chocolate, what an irony in the heat of summer!
The design: Gerhard tells the story of humanity, its creativity and its connectedness, using multiple dimensions to represent various interrelated aspects of civilization throughout time and space.
Background information about the project:
As the material 'chocolate' is exposed to humidity and temperature fluctuations in this project, the crystallization process of the cocoa butter accelerates at a fast pace. This becomes visible through the light brown spots on the surface. It is said in the jargon that chocolate is 'grey'.
Dimension 1: Art Is Transient
Gerhard’s beloved medium, chocolate, provided the perfect expression of the transient nature of art. Thousands of chocolate pieces were exposed to the elements during the peak of summer. As they began to melt, break and change in structure and colour, the transience of this piece of work was revealed.
Dimension 2: Nature Is Art
Although we are usually unaware of their presence as we walk by the trees in the park, they are so important to our lives, imparting beauty, filtering our air, strengthening our soil and acting as silent witnesses of our time, watching as we live our lives and relationships, day after day, year after year. Gerhard presented his design as a dedication to these great marvels of nature by casting the ca. 30 kg (roughly 67 lbs.) of dark chocolate used to create the design in a tree bark structure, which turned the column itself into a tree standing in the park.
Dimension 3: Art Is Universal
The technique chosen to create thousands of chocolate pieces included in the design focuses on the universal aspect of art. Each piece was hand-broken or crafted with stone in ancient Polynesian style, making reference to the timelessness of art’s power of communication.
Dimension 4: Human Interaction Is Art
This project represents the story of a tree that has seen, heard, and experienced much over the years. Gerhard’s goal was to reveal the events of the tree’s past in the form of an illustrative story. His design includes over 100 chocolate contour figures, each connected in some way to the others. Together, they tell the story of human interaction and how necessary our interconnectedness is. Gerhard accentuated this point by publishing the project on his website on July 8th, 2004 at 5 p.m., at the exact moment the project was opened to the public in Graz. As a result, the column stood not only in the center of Graz, but also in the center of a global network on the "World Wide Web".
In addition, Gerhard called on visitors to his website from all over the globe to send him comments on the project. The communication network created by the project brought comments from places like Mexico, the U.S., the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Asia, etc., which were integrated into the project as printed notes and attached to the column, like the fallen leaves of a tree being brought back together.
A stunning work of art and philosophy
The completed project involved very meticulously planned designs, thousands of chocolate pieces and literally hundreds of thousands of movements to create and bring each piece together. The result was a work of art of aesthetic, intellectual and culinary dimensions like no other.
After 1 month:
Production time: - approx. 120 hours
Materials used: - approx. 30 kg dark chocolate used (with various silicone moulds)
- 18 pcs. wooden transport plates
- 36 support elements á 90x3cm
- 72 cubes 5x5 cm each
- 17 m2 natural jute (coffee sacks)
- 6 kg of Ovalite (kind of glue)
- about 200 pcs of nails for attaching the cuboids to the support plates
- 15 l coffee (it was quite though alone..)
- 3,679,284 nerve cells lost on the way (lots of movements and re-arrangements)