Passageway, Inside-Downside is a recent installation by German conceptual artist Wolfgang Laib and presented by Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. The piece consisted of small brass boats sitting on top of mounds of rice and arranged precisely along a gallery floor. Alongside the small, organized grouping were also ten drawings and several monumental sculptures that all worked collectively together to produce calm, meditative thoughts.
Throughout his career, Laib has used universal items like grains of rice, pollen, milk, and beeswax in his work as “a symbol of spiritual nourishment.” He chooses such natural objects because they are easily identifiable and visitors can understand their presence without having to rely on language translations.
Laib explains that there is a complexity found within the simplicity of his work. There is a calm, ritualism within his process of collecting natural materials, repetitively placing them throughout a room, and thus transforming them into new forms. By drawing upon nature, Laib creates a thought-provoking environment where viewers are invited to consider the elements beyond their expected functions. For Passageway, Inside-Downside, he says, “The open form of the little boats–inaccessible conveyances into another world–extends a spiritual invitation for us to strive, in reflection and contemplation, towards unknown goals.”