Skip to content

(Model)Architecture as an Artistic Utopia

Main Hall

Model of Observation Tower / Model pozorovacej veže, 1967

Metal, industrial paint
93 × 55 cm × 28 cm

During his early creative period in the 1960s Stano Filko also worked on a series of designs for monumental sculptures for public space. He planned many of these so that they could never be implemented — they have utopian associations as models that express the tension between an idea and its capacity for realization. Here Filko also makes ironic reference to the architecture and sculpture of realist Soviet monumentalism.

The several-part installation with four works from the series Models of Observation Towers (1966÷67) is a particularly interesting example of Filko’s exploration of the structure of public space. The so-called observation towers” are placed on a floor with mirrors, and they are bizarre pieces of mechanical equipment standing before a three-part photograph of the urban space of Bratislava. The colors seem strange, giving these objects a partly animal-like appearance, whereby Filko probably only added the colors in the 1990s.

These sculptural observation towers are linked up with a photographic view of the city of Bratislava in the late 1960s, showing a marginal area of the city where monumental real-socialist apartment blocks contrast with the surrounding countryside. The latter looks like an enormous gap in the building project, a gaping hole between city and country and also between the neighboring sister cities of Bratislava and Vienna. The forms of buildings can be understood as expressions of different worldviews and traditions. While Soviet architecture attempted to appropriate the utopia of aesthetic modernism, we can also ask whether Vienna is modern at all, given its manifold connections to history and the shared experience and suffering during the long years of the monarchy. Filko also enacts failed utopias, raising the question as to at which point universalism shifts to standardization and individuals are sacrificed to an art inadequate to their needs.

A further fascinating aspect of these works is Filko’s artistic incorporation of found objects. For the Observation Towers he uses parts of various machines, but does not deploy these in isolation, instead transferring their functions into new contexts by means of his own adjustments and combinations. A more radical use of found objects is seen in the installation Pneumatic Circles I.-XXXX. (1968). Filko’s artistic interventions here consist only of a reordering of the inflatable rubber tires that are piled up on mirrors. In the work of Stano Filko there is a continuous and complex approach to the theme of authorship. With turning against artisanal artistic practices and the search for a form of art that is free of any personal signature, changes in the authorial position evolve in the environments and assemblages. These ways of searching are very typical for different trends of the period ranging from Proto-Pop, Concept Art to Minimal Art. On the other hand, he at the same time pursued his ongoing inclusion of his art into his own System SF over several decades, placing his works in a specific context and desubjectifying them from within his own conceptual and metaphysical understanding.

Model of Observation Tower / Model pozorovacej veže, 1967
Found object, metal, paint
602921 cm

Model of Observation Tower / Model pozorovacej veže, 1966
Found objects, metal
82 cm x 1923 cm

Model of Observation Tower / Model pozorovacej veže, 1967
Metal, industrial paint
9355 cm x 28 cm

Model of Observation Tower / Model pozorovacej veže, 1967
Metal, paint
661923 cm

Models of Observation Towers / Model pozorovacej veži, 1966 – 67
Print, cardboard, mirrors
3 pieces, each 100 × 100 cm
35 mirrors, each 25260,6 cm

Pneumatic Circles I.-XXXX. / Pneumatické kolesá I.-XXXX., 1968
Environment, found objects, mirrors
34 pieces of orange and 12 pieces of red inflatable wheels, 81 mirrors
Variable dimensions

All works Courtesy Linea Collection, Bratislava; Layr, Vienna