Eva Grubinger

‘Malady of the Infinite’


Belvedere 21, Vienna

22 November, 2019 – 13 April, 2020


The cockpit sticks up in the air, the hull is already under water. In spite of this, the superyacht dominates the space, held in check only by several mines that protrude from the floor, as if floating on the ocean. It is Eva Grubinger’s artistic trademark to defamiliarize and activate objects via enlargement, change of material, reduction, or decontextualization. Here, too, these means are used to create a sculptural scene combining poetic lightness with real political relevance.
The exhibition also reflects a sociopolitical and psychosocial mood known as anomie, a situation in which societal norms are weakened or entirely lacking, giving no moral orientation. In this way, the dominance of global capitalism, paired with neoliberalism, creates a lack of solidarity that runs through all strata of society. This is accompanied by the notion of a boundless horizon of possibilities that promises all individuals self-determination and self-realization, but which ultimately leads to an unlimited longing that cannot be satisfied in material terms and that grows ever stronger. Sociologist Émile Durkheim speaks in this context of a “malady of the infinite.”
Grubinger articulates this mood via a luxury object that neither functions nor satisfies. Even the yacht—a symbol of power, dominance, autonomy, and advanced capitalism—is not immune to the dangers posed by those with nothing left to lose. For not only the superrich suffer the malady of the infinite. Even the middle classes have fallen victim to the neoliberal wish machine. They are now in existential crisis, hollowed out by the resulting economic injustice. And the precariat is increasingly frustrated by ever more obvious inequality, leading it to turn its back on ethical behavior.
Grubinger’s sculptural ensemble conveys a feeling of tension and grim foreboding. The ocean as a setting makes room for contradictory associations including conquest, colonialism, desire, and freedom. Where not only leisure activities like sailing and travel taken place, but also fishing, transport, piracy, and human trafficking, Grubinger stages a conflict of power and powerlessness. Malady of the Infinite paints a picture of structural inequality, of endless longing with no hope of fulfillment for rich or poor, for tycoons or pirates. With this exhibition, the artist creates a striking parable on our fraught times.


Eva Grubinger (born 1970 in Salzburg) studied at Berlin’s University of the Arts with VALIE EXPORT and Katharina Sieverding (1989–1995). Since the mid-1990s, her work has been shown in museum and gallery exhibitions internationally, including solo shows at Bloomberg SPACE, London (2016), Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2015), Belvedere, Vienna (2012), ZKM – Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe (2011), Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (2009), Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2007), Berlinische Galerie (2004), BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2003), Kiasma Museum, Helsinki (2001). Also many group shows in Austria and abroad, including: Neues Museum, Nuremberg (2019), Busan Biennale (2018), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2014, 2015), Witte de With – Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2014), Marrakech Biennale (2012), Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (2011), Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2010), Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, Illinois (2009), Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nuremberg (2009), Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2008), Kunst-Werke, Berlin (2005), Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2002). The artist lives and works in Berlin.


Exhibition catalogue:
Eva Grubinger – Malady of the Infinite
Edited by Stella Rollig and Severin Dünser
Including Texts by Severin Dünser, Chus Martínez, Stella Rollig and Jan Verwoert
Graphic design by Heimann + Schwantes, Berlin
Swiss hardcover, 23 × 30 cm, 176 pages, ca. 150 illustrations
Koenig Books Ltd, London, 2019
ISBN 978-3-903114-95-1