START POINT PRIZE – Prize for emerging artists

Florian Mertens

Florian Mertens is one of the artists who, like a little boy, gets fascinated by the world of machines and mechanics. He is thus allied with the traditions of Dada, Duchamp and the Surrealists. However, his approach is closer to Panamarenko and Joost Conijn. Like them, Mertens creates sculptures characterised by a high quality of labor and various degree of functionality. These sculptures look like machines, but their use is often rather unclear, sometimes they do not work at all. Mertens’s approach is thus typical for the 21st century. With his contemporary postindustrial romanticism emphasis on craftsmanship, the sculptural machines are fantasies about a functional world which has not led to the alienation of man. Mertens’s thesis acts as a somber memorial to the faded glory of small factories – plaster phantoms of machines and components repose on DIY pedestals made of cardboard and wood, and handmade wooden tools used for cutting the plaster components turn into Constructivist reliefs when hung on the wall. (rv)