Noële Ody

»Embrace the shit«


21er Raum at 21er Haus, Vienna

January 15 — February 23, 2014


Noële Ody makes sculptures. They often look like minimalist, even industrial structures and follow a logic that lies beyond pure aesthetics. Their functional appearance is not meant as a sculptural gadget, but is a central element: most of them process-oriented, they always seek to involve the spectator and both adapt to situations and create new ones.

Ody’s exhibition in the 21er Raum looks like a waiting room. It is a room within a room: a railing surrounding the walls, benches in the middle with a book on them, and a drink vending machine. The double railing encircles the room, ending in two oversized hands on either side of the entrance. This work shares the title of the exhibition Embrace the Shit and literally embraces both the other works and the visitors. Ody created the installation especially for the exhibition, making everything except for the nuts and bolts by hand and then painting it in shiny black lacquer. The drink vending machine is called “Hallo” and has its own story to tell. Ody hired it and installed it in the sculptors’ studio at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts in Kurzbauergasse, providing drinks for people working there. Similarly, at Ve.Sch Kunstverein in Schickanedergasse she often placed it in the exhibition space at evening events. Now in the 21er Raum, it serves both as a pedestal for two hands and a machine so visitors can quench their thirst. Benches titled Coretto al Banco have been placed beside the machine. Ody made these for the restaurant Victus und Mili in Neustiftgasse. Placed upon them there is a Book of Bills documenting the financial side of the exhibition.

Based on the many “Book of + noun” titles, this amasses receipts for the work the exhibition required without passing any judgment. The railings with the giant hands were produced and the bills paid for from institution funds. The benches were commissioned and are under suspicion of being labeled “design.” The beer vending machine was bought on hire purchase and paid off during the exhibition. It represents one extreme: the real deal. You put money in and a drink comes out – arguably the most direct of transactions. The benches, too, are the result of a direct transaction based on work rendered paid at an hourly rate. Only the economic status of this product is uncertain, as it could have been manufactured more cheaply and its character as both functional object and artwork becomes even more blurred by its integration in the exhibition. 

These conceptual backgrounds in production conditions accompany the exhibition and are juxtaposed with the sculptor’s approach to problem solving. The relationship of form to space and people and the surface fetish, which can scarcely be overlooked, are characteristic sculptural qualities in Ody’s work. It is just as important to mention how the artist plays with visitors, offering them an incentive to stay longer and appreciate cycles intrinsic to art.

What is art? What does artistic work mean and how do artists define themselves through this? These are questions that Noële Ody neither can answer nor wishes to. She calls her exhibition Embrace the Shit, dons a party hat and does a dance for us.


Noële Ody was born in Starnberg, Germany, in 1982 and lives and works in Vienna. A selection of recent exhibitions: Bussi Baba, Elephant Art Space, Los Angeles; Grundfrage, CRAC Alsace, Altkirch (2013); caprihosenzeit (with Gabriele Edlbauer), VMU art gallery 101, Kaunas; Wir treffen uns am Abend, Galerie Kamm/COCO at Rosa, Berlin (2012).


Exhibition catalogue:
21er Raum 2012 – 2016
Edited by Agnes Husslein-Arco and Severin Dünser
Including texts by Severin Dünser, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Paul Feigelfeld, Agnes Husslein-Arco, Lili Reynaud-Dewar and Luisa Ziaja on exhibitions by Anna-Sophie Berger, Andy Boot, Vittorio Brodmann, Andy Coolquitt, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Iman Issa, Barbara Kapusta, Susanne Kriemann, Adriana Lara, Till Megerle, Adrien Missika, Noële Ody, Sarah Ortmeyer, Mathias Pöschl, Rosa Rendl, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Anja Ronacher, Constanze Schweiger, Zin Taylor, Philipp Timischl, Rita Vitorelli and Salvatore Viviano
Graphic design by Atelier Liska Wesle, Vienna/Berlin
Softcover, 21 × 29,7 cm, 272 pages, numerous illustrations in color
Belvedere, Vienna, 2016
ISBN 978-3-903114-18-0