A unit in a storage building somewhere in Cologne sets the stage for Maximillian Schneiders installation The Superfluous. The building lies at the end of a yard, in one of those nameless looking places, hidden away behind a gray roller shutter that faces the street. The building itself is maze of rooms and corridors, of similar looking doors, of remnants of anonymous lives put away in boxes; it is a fortress-like structure and I am indecisive on whether I should think of it as a prison or a vault. In greek mythology, Minos, first King of Crete, the son of Zeus and Europa commissioned Daedalus to built a prison in the form of a labyrinth to hide the Minotaur in its core. I feel lost and alienated in this place that supposedly is the home of former homes. We enter the room of Max installation, that could resemble that mystic core, a parallel space that lies within the alternate, concluded world of this building; mirroring from the inside the events on the outside. Three figures made from plaster are there. Each is about 140 cm tall and of humanly but faceless appearance, dressed in fabrics and patterned with collages. The figures are individually positioned around sleeping bags, each of which are carefully draped forming a trail around the figures feet. Two of the figures face another, while the third, seemingly left out, watches on.
Two wall pieces made from painted synthetic leather complement the installation. Both are blueprints of undefined but multi-sequenced spaces. The first reads a contribution to statistics: days are where we live whilst the second one the superfluous. Formally both blueprints capture the labyrinthine disorientation of the storage building, playing with its contradicting ideas of insight and outside, of protection and imprisonment, mapping out alternate constellations of the three figures within the room. In sociologist Georg Simmel’s Law of the Excluded Middle society appears as an ever ongoing balancing act of the inclusion and exclusion of its members. A society, according to Simmel, starts with three individuals, simplified to a 2+1 model, meaning that even those who might think that they are excluded are naturally part of society, whether they want to or are wanted to be in it or not. Simmel argued that there cannot be a group of three in which at one point or another the third isn’t seen as an intruder on the relations of the dyad.
The political relevance unfolds its presence within the undoubtedly vigorous connotation of the space, forming a balanced coalition with the installation, supporting it in its concerns. The building adds another layer to the work, a reading, that supports a realness to the aetheric other worldly figures. „Realism represents while I present“ Jannis Kounellis said and this too holds true to Max’ work. The reality the storage building represents refers to our actual social and economical condition, its discourses and problematics, while the work itself presents parabolically one of many possibilities of how those social relations could be shaped and constructed. Max’s work appears as if it is forming a fictional micro cosmos within a real world macro. It offers a directness, a gentle frankness that is weighing its narration against a reflection on what’s going on out there in the streets, anywhere outside this building. Max translates Simmel’s basic social model quite literally in
his work, but empathetically. With The Superfluous he created a mirror space for those who might feel neglected from participation within society, without advocating on their behalf. Still, there is an unexpected lightness within the installation, a hopeful realism that holds no judgment but provides a precise study of social interrelations and their effects on the individual. Is a sleeping bag the smallest unit of a home? Daedalus symbolizes the mythological archetype of the intellectual architect but also the commissioned inventor of a fatal spatial order, manifested through building structures that Simmel tried to describe from the perspective of the maze of social possibilities. Consequently the construction of the public realm fails to serve those who disintegrate into the concepts of a social sphere superimposed by dominating regimes. The boldness of The Superfluous stems from this humble observation and choice of materiality, that does not act to impress nor directly critique, but that lets us take part of a delicate and sensitive perception of the meaning of space: a maze, as the principle of creation, of something that simultaneously suggests order and chaos by indicating diverse possibilities of future social histories.