Felix Kultau creates stereotypical images of masculinity: His light sculptures placed in the space employ concrete cast protein powder cans, chrome-plated steel poles, glas tubes, plastic flowers and strip lights. They evoke associations of bodybuilding: in terms of shape they are reminiscent of gym equipment, as well as of physical constructions subjected to (self-)optimization.
Felix Kultau works primarily with cool, industrial and found material, emphasizing their fetish character through his interventions. In their perceived smoothness his materials nevertheless time and again exhibit traces of decay and vulnerability. His locker doors are a continuation of his work series on shipping container doors. In the exhibition they become part of the idea of the fitness studio, but in contrast to the demonstrative, large gestures of the chrome sculptures they instead express privacy and withdrawal, qualities that also stand allegorically for adolescence – our view of which is of course shaped by the genre of the Highschool movie.
Next to these works, viewers see themselves confronted with big glass sculptures, showcases that reflect the final outcome of male fantasies of power and violence: What we can appreciate in detail here is the trace of an application of force onto the glass surface – the aftermath of something uncanny, still burning, glowing and smoking inside: Felix Kultau’s sculptures seem at the same time fragile and brutal, they exude an inner conflict and fragmentation, much like that described by Klaus Theweleit in his notion of the “Fragmentkörper” (fragmented body). “This body, which I call the fragmented body, for example does not abide equality – whether this be equality with women, equality with children” . These deliberations stem from the author’s principal work “Male Fantasies”, first published in German language in 1977 (English language version 1987), which now, 40 years later, has been re-issued due to its unchanging, if not increased relevance to our times. The author sees the fear of a dissolution of the body as the root cause for the development of hierarchies, fascism, abuse of power and violence: “And this fragmented body attempts to solve its problems, which it is unable to integrate into its psyche, through violence. (…) This type wants society to be organized in a hierarchical way, with clear superior and inferior distinctions, and to know its position within this structure. And this type sees men, a certain kind of masculinity, to be superior in this construct.”
Klaus Theweleit, “Die Angst vor der Körperauflösung. Klaus Theweleit im Gespräch mit Liane von Billerbeck” (Deutschlandfunk Kultur, November 01, 2019). URL: https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/klaus-theweleit-ueber-maennerphantasien-die-angst-vor-der.1008.de.html?dram:article_id=462394 (last accessed April 04, 2020). Ibid.