Standard Metre in USA

On Michael Schuster's "Standard Metre in USA"

A three-cornered constellation already predominated in Michael Schuster's earlier works which their creator effectively singled out in relation to the whole complex of Concept Art. There was on the one hand the direct inheritance of Austrian Concept Art of the late sixties and early seventies with a pervadingly analytical attitude, the roots of which can be seen in the rediscovery of Wittgenstein, also in the country of his birth, as well as in the connection of this analysis with an Actionist view of Concept Art which directly connected itself to the radicalism of Vienna Actionist Art of the years 1962 to 1970 but at the same time decidedly abandoned the principle of the self-presentation of the artist.

Specific to his generation, one could secondly comment on Michael Schuster's work that, in contrast to the founding generation of Concept Art, he has from the beginning made the basis of his work an unprejudiced and thoroughly professional handling of the comparatively new complex of the media. What advantageously isolates him in the present international context in relation to American Neo-Conceptual Art and vis-à-vis its European parallels is the absence of that peculiar seriousness which marks all the art movements which connected themselves to the original Concept Art in the second half of the eighties and which dates them as already belonging to the past. In all Michael Schuster's works from his beginnings it was mainly a specific humour around which his works organised themselves, or put better, a humoristic approach to specific circumstances which are connected to the media world which first appeared in the eighties.

Michael Schuster's "America" work has now made this constellation completely apparent. The interplay of the colour patches control strip, professional reproduction and the desired portrayal of a certain place is something which professional photographers experience every day. Michael Schuster in no way questions it - this is exactly the procedure of the humoristic approach - rather, he sneaks past it or completely turns it around. To set up within the picture the colour patches control strip for the benefit of a professional reproduction, which in this case is chosen by the individual state tourist information offices of the fifty Federal States is a simple idea in itself although it is inherently connected to what the real structural conditions of reality mean today.

However, the expedition aspect which has been connected with the work of Michael Schuster from the outset is still more interesting. After months of living in a mobile home the artist and his mountaineer-trained assistant, who was able to hold the colour patches control strip exactly straight with his own physical strength, return from their traversal of the American Federal States as if from a gold-digging expedition. The creative result holds its ground. Good art exists only with a certain madness, and this project has got it. Where an artist puts his being on the line he becomes interesting for today's public. Michael Schusters work has this dimension.