Felix Gonzalez-Torres at the 'Ecktafelgemach' of the Paraderäume
The so-called “Candy Works” – candies piled up in mountains, laid out in rectangles, or arranged in any other configuration – are an important group of works by the American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996). In many of his works the viewers become participants; The sweets can be taken and eaten here.
For the conceptual artist, the aspects of democratization and interaction play an important role. In the once-royal parade rooms, the work also raises the question of the privilege of power, access and representation. During baroque period festivities, meals were served here, which is why the room was also called the corner table chamber. On such occasions, a large canopy was stretched over the area, which was modeled on the carpet of golden candies, as a sign of dignity. Below were the tables with an overflowing abundance of food.
Under the canopy, on a step platform also covered with velvet, the dining table stood in front of a sumptuously embroidered back wall, surrounded by 18 gilded chairs. The royal circle of table guests sat on it, while the court and other people were allowed to watch closely and see exactly who ate which bite. Today's reconstructed room is based on the time around 1768, when those show dinners had gone out of fashion. However, the use of the hall for courtly dining continued, although it remained a highly exclusive privilege to be invited to dinner here until the end of the monarchy in 1918. Today, museum visitors can stay in the rooms.
Instead of displaying and simply observing, Gonzalez-Torres allows visitors to choose to participate in his work and challenges them to decide if they want to engage with the work, and contribute to its changing form. However, in its generosity to offer itself to every guest, the sculpture risks disappearing completely. The changeability of the work refers to the fragility of human existence. Transience, loss and grief are always present aspects in the work of the artist, who first lost his partner and himself died of AIDS in 1996. In this exploration of the balance between personal and shared experience, in the blurring of the boundaries between the private and the political, Gonzalez-Torres' poetic conceptual art is founded.