JJ Ramsauerb. 1988, Salzburg, Austria
glass, wood, bitumen, heating lamp, water, ichthyol
100 x 30 x 30 cm
Resembling the familiar form of the lava lamp, an object associated with 1970s optimism, counterculture and the space race, JJ Ramsauer’s glass sculpture evokes the sleek, futuristic aesthetics of the Fordist era. An illuminated glass vase is filled ichthyol, a bituminous soap used as a skin treatment; its wooden stand splattered with bitumen, a viscous form of crude oil used in industrial processes. These materials link the work to the wider flows of production that allowed lava lamps and the space race alike to exist – systems based on the extraction of natural resources, and cheap factory labour. With such systems in peril and decline, but in a world which still heavily relies on them to function, Ramsauer’s deceptively simple sculpture opens up questions about natural resources, their vast histories (formed by fossils of plants and animals that roamed the earth thousands of years ago), the industries fuelled by them and the uncertain future they produce.
Influenced by natural science and post-anthropocentric writing, Ramsauer approaches his practice in an experimental way. Materials are at the core of his practice, which investigates the metamorphic change of organic and once-living matter into technical materials, particularly the wide-ranging use of bituminous substances. Ramsauer uses this vast and rich history to build sceneries and open up anthropological stories, from the Mesopotamian era to now: from archaic and ritual use to the sheer technological value of natural resources, utilised in the construction of infrastructure and buildings.
Born in Salzburg, Ramsauer lives and works in Vienna. After first studying natural science, and then visiting a school for photography, he has developed a diverse artistic practice. In 2014, he spent a year at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and now is about to finish his studies in Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. He has exhibited in gallery and off-space group shows in Vienna, as well as Parallel Art Fair.