Sophie Nys “Not a shoe.” at Guimarães, Vienna

Sophie Nys, Die Hütte, 2007 -2018, 16mm film transfer to DV. Ph. Gregor Titze


Guimarães presents Not a Shoe. an exhibition by Belgian artist Sophie Nys (1974), whose work brings together different media that examine—not rarely with a wry sense of humor—themes of history and social culture among others. With minimal interference and reduced means, in her practice, objects and images from everyday life are transformed and repositioned. In doing so the artist poses questions about cause and effect, transience and continuity and opens up new spaces for reflection, narration and resistance.

A selection of previous exhibitions include solo shows at Bozar, Galerie Greta Meert and La Loge in Brussels, Kiosk in Ghent, Crac Alsace in Altkirch, Circuit in Lausanne, and Projecte SD in Barcelona. Her work has been showed in group exhibitions at Fondazione Prada in Venice, Helmhaus, Archiv, Haus Konstruktiv and Kunsthalle in Zürich, Parcours Basel, Salzburger Kunstverein, Kunsthalle Vienna, Venice Biennale, Artists Space New York, Maniera, Etablissement d’en Face and Wiels in Brussels.

She was impressed by the ‘Todtnauberg’ passage and more precisely by the manner in which he described Heidegger, a Heidegger era, the Nazi polemic, the Black Forest heaviness, …the intelligent, humorous and smart way he mocks an authority—but probably simultaneously loves it.

While reading, she got curious about this cottage, and decided to go there and film, like she did with the film Lénine en pensant: she was reading in a guide about Russia and there, in Ulan-Ude, there was the biggest head of Lenin, so she went there to document it.

She visited the hut three times. Three different seasons cut in chronological order, and felt lucky that none of the times someone from Heidegger’s family was around.

She liked the idea of getting closer and closer to the cottage-the subject, like a cat approaching something that took its attention. From a lower perspective, followed by a rise of the camera—the passage shifts from animal to human—and then a final ascension to bird’s level.

When looking down one sees meaningless skiers. When looking forward the mountains are redrawn as if by a child; like in The Dark Glow Of The Mountains. This ecstatic quality is enhanced by Schubert’s cantata, the shot of a cross and the film suddenly cutting to a black fragment of time. The film is also a portrait of the black forest of some sorts, a rather green context that ends with a tragic song about green and greens. This insistence on the subject—the cottage—alters it into an object that is presented as bluntly as possible. She likes the repetition and the scanning in the act of filming, as to insist on the subject.

Visual elements like the fountain, the mountains, the hut are repeated, and each repetition seems accentuated by the increasingly spiteful comments of the narrating voice gaining pace. This feels increasingly banal: the idyllic landscape, the flowers, the fountain, somehow become more pathetic each time, losing their mystery as images. By the end of the film the fountain is a ridiculous pissing device; Heidegger himself looks quite idiotic, and the snowy landscapes with the skiers lose their lyrical power in favour of a monotonous fixity and conformity, totally in sync with Bernhard’s text. The music coming in at the end reinforces this feeling; albeit still in ambiguity, it balances the fine line between mockery and grandeur. It feels like Herz Aus Glas but also Even Dwarves Started Small, and the fact that you can hear the narrator´s saliva shaping all the words is definitely adding to this feeling.

The only still image in the film is taken from a book, where you can see Heidegger sitting in front of his blockhouse wearing his black cap. The next shot is a closeup view of the hut’s wall. Integrating this image where you can see the only human being from close, turns the colour film into black and white. From the fountain near the hut to a bronze fountain on the streets, delivered in the form of frottage. From Heidegger’s toilet seat into a fountain that is now a pissoir. The small image from Heute with the three pissing men can add (or reduce) information. Definitely, this can be something to be sensed or seen or interpreted by the visitor.

– Yes, enough old men in my work. But true, I am easily inspired by elements of a space or a context… maybe too easily but I go with that flow and see what can possibly can come out of it. That is why I am still looking how to work with the “stables turned into art spaces” built by Waagner-Biro.


Sophie Nys, Zeugnis, Waagner-Biro chocolate on embossed aluminum foil. Ph. Gregor Titze


Sophie Nys, Frottage (Nicola), 2018
Frottage and urine on card. Ph. Gregor Titze


Sophie Nys, Not a shoe., Installation View at Guimarães. Ph. Gregor Titze


Sophie Nys, Not a shoe., Installation View at Guimarães. Ph. Gregor Titze


Sophie Nys, Keyholders, 2018
Edition of 100. Ph. Gregor Titze


Sophie Nys, Not a shoe., Installation View at Guimarães. Ph. Gregor Titze


Sophie Nys, Not a shoe., Installation View at Guimarães. Ph. Gregor Titze


Sophie Nys
Not a shoe.
13 May–14 July 2018

Guimarães | Linke Wienzeile 36 / 1C, Vienna
Open by appointment
+43 699 19211821