Tobias Rehberger “HOLY SILENCE”
Published Spring 2008
Concept and Design: Tobias Rehberger
Eleven laser-cut plates constitute “Holy Silence,” by German Tobias Rehberger. When asked to design a work for Three Star Books, Rehberger chose to make the kind of stand-up publication that the smallest of children play with. Its rigid and yet loose “pages” are constructed so as to fit something like the elements in Charles and Ray Eames’ 1952 House of Cards, a toy that is also a piece of complex engineering. Rehberger’s materials range from anodized aluminum, acrylic plexiglass, MDF, and plastic to plywood, resin, rubber, and copper. Realization of the work involved both virtual and handmade models that explored all possible geometric and technical configurations. Rehberger has made other publications that are entirely in the realm of the artist’s book, even though produced in conjunction with museum institutions and trade publishers. The issues that pervade Rehberger’s thinking are neatly crystallized in his publications. Fusion of roles such as artist, author, producer, and writer, as well as an inversion of order and the dissolution of “normal” functions, achieve their masterly synthesis in “Holy Silence.” An attempt to bridge book and sculpture, the work employs a stencil technique often associated with cut-metal Nativity scenes, or the realm of collectibles. The anecdotal nature of the medium acquires deeper signficance when the nature of the images is studied. Far from the idyllic climate of Christmas, Rehberger deconstructs childhood in visions of hangings, grimacing pumpkins, and cartoon-like babies, with a sinister quality, analagous to artist Maurizio Cattelan’s de-sanctified visions of youth. Rehberger’s play with the work of his colleagues, subtle reference to an icon of Californian post-conceptualism, the 1994 house of Jorge Pardo, or the material virtuosity of an artist such as Reinhard Mucha or Donald Judd, adds other layers to the piece. Holy Silence is absolute testimony to the nature of genius, and the true artist’s ability to take any commission, from salt cellar to skyscraper, and turn it into a timeless work of art.