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István Csákány. Bernsteinzimmer

Collection presentation

Bernsteinzimmer (2010) by the Romanian-born Hungarian artist István Csákány is a detailed and complex reconstruction, completely in wood, of a private atelier. The effect of artistic alienation brought about by the completely wooden construction gives the untidy cellar room, which seems to have been just recently abandoned, something of the effect of a metaphorical mise en abyme, a figurative repetition: an interior reflecting the everyday, ordered chaos of a man who takes refuge in his tinkering and who has portrayed his own prosaic reality at life size.

In fact, with this atelier, Csákány recalls that of his father, the memory of which is today as rough to him as the wooden design of the work. At the same time, this highly elaborate and skilfully built replica of a typical kind of refuge seems to move within the deep-blue space of the museum pavilion like an interstellar time capsule detached from space and time, which the viewer looks into as into a foreign world.

With Bernsteinzimmer, Csákány additionally underlines how important skilled artistic work carried out in a collective is for art, as he also does with the title's reference to the famous Amber Room. This masterpiece of Baroque craftsmanship, which has become almost legendary owing to its mysterious disappearance in the Second World War, was sent to Saint Petersburg from Berlin in 1716 as a present by the Prussian King Frederick William I to Czar Peter the Great. It was not just the perfect product of a masterly collaboration between now-forgotten amber carvers with its creator, Andreas Schlüter: its material and its history also gave the work a complicated temporal structure that was interesting for the Hungarian artist.

István Csákány was born in 1978 in Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe), Romania. He lives and works in Berlin.