Toni Schmale’s sculptural work reminds one of machines, apparatuses or training devices for the conditioning of the human body. Through the precise use of materials such as steel, concrete or rubber, the objects take on an imaginative life of their own—their dysfunctionality has a certain resistance and can be understood as a critique of existing power structures.
In the solo exhibition “watersports” at Mayday, Toni Schmale shows new site-specific works that create various references to the harbour, which is located in the immediate vicinity of the exhibition space. Beyond its embedding in the much-invoked romanticism of the port, her interest lies in the aesthetics of a male-dominated working environment, the equipment used to transport goods and the industrial forms of shipbuilding: deformed and seemingly saggy pipes protrude from large-format galvanised sheets, a massive grid construction with a round opening and powder-coated rollers made of steel dominate the tiled room that used to serve as a locker room for workers of the shipping company. The objects have a hybrid appearance, their function remains uncertain. Situated somewhere between industrial design, fitness equipment, torture devices and fetish furniture, they refer to the human body and allow us to imagine actions that can be performed on or with them. In these speculative narratives, power, desire and physical discipline overlap—and are undermined in their unambiguity.