Plataforma Revolver and Clube Portugeis Artes e Ideias, Lisbon
Resident - Steve Schepens, Horror 14.2

When we think of horror, we usually think of a genre of film where, as viewers, we are faced with a terrifying situation that anticipates impending danger, relying on our fears and guilts to build tension. For Berlin based artist Steve Schepens, in his most recent work, the word horror is a thought paradox materialized into an art object. For his residency in Lisbon at Plataforma Revolver and Clube Portugeis Artes e Ideias, co-organized with Les Pépinières Européennes pour jeunes artistes, Schepens presented Horror 14.2, a porcelain cast of the space inside a cardboard box.

Schepens’ work mines on Nauman and Whiteread’s proposition of cast spaces under chairs and inside houses. But more than materializing the unpalpable, Schepens presents viewers with a timely paradox; one that reminds us of Schrodinger’s thought experiment, where the state of the matter or space inside a box cannot be described, studied or explained without the alteration or destruction of it. As viewers, we are presented with an object where the idea of contents is challenged. The cast of a cardboard box transformed into an art object is at the same time filled and empty, as we remain forever unaware of its true constituents.

But apart from approximations in quantum mechanics, Schepens’ idea of space turned into object also poses some interesting philosophical determinations. The piece alludes to space permanence, a reminder for the viewer’s mind of the ungraspable, much like emptiness or a sense of void. The art object then ceases to be a mere representation or entity, and becomes the imaginary and the paradoxical. The inside/outside of the box is at the same time perceivable and impossible to comprehend. The object is consequently on the border of definition. Furthermore, the presentation of the piece on a white pedestal brings into question the preciousness of the art object by contrasting the material with the object cast. A porcelain cast of such a humble material such as cardboard destabilizes this traditional concept and further enhances its paradoxical characteristics.

The object becomes a psychological ruse of possibilities and oppositions; the object as non object, and space as non space. And how does this translate to horror? The work implies the dreadful but alluring aspect of the paradoxical. In Non Places – Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, Marc Augé argues that non-places, or in this case non-spaces, are the by-products of the excess that characterizes our contemporaneity. Schepen’s work induces viewers to ponder this supposition, perhaps in horror of the non-aspects of our contemporary existence.

Originally published on ARTPULSE Magazine