TOBIAS REHBERGER

Born in Esslingen, Germany in 1966 and currently living and working in Frankfurt, Tobias Rehberger is one of the most prominent artists of his generation. He was awarded the Golden Lion for best artist in Daniel Birnbaum’s ‘Fare Mondi/Making Worlds’ exhibition at the 53rd Venice Biennial and recent international shows include Reina Sofia, Madrid, the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, Galerie Bärbel Grässlin, Frankfurt, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York, and Haunch of Venison, London.

Rehberger’s practice creates complex cross-overs around ideas of art, authorship, social value and commodity. For his ‘famous’ cars project, started in 1999, the artist asked craftsmen in Thailand to recreate famous car designs he had drawn from memory. The production of the resulting objects mirrors and at the same time undermines the mass market manufacturing relationships that exist under capitalism.

This relationship with commodities was explored further in his 2006 exhibition Seven Naked Hermann Hesse Fans and other Gems at Haunch of Venison in London, where he buried keys of 'desirable' cars in simple geometric shapes on the floor of the gallery. He also burnt designer dresses and inserted the ashes into cracks in the wall of the gallery. He took his own artist’s drawings, pulped them and then reworked them as faux gallery electricity sockets.

By reshaping the commodities of capitalism, Rehberger raises questions around the relationship between the object and its value as a commodity and value as an artwork. And by including the re-formation of his own artworks, perhaps he’s suggesting that an artwork is the ultimate commodity, or even a ‘hyper’ commodity? Because he creates aesthetically and materially engaging work, it becomes impossible to look at each artwork without being aware of commodity fetishism or the power relationships that inform our relationship to objects and spaces that surround us. In this way, our relationship to the work is constantly destabilised by the question of where the value of the work resides, as well as opening up questions around the notion of an object’s authorship.