Die Überflüssigen / The Superfluous



A unit in a storage building somewhere in Cologne is the stage set for Maximillian Schneiders

installation "The Superfluous". The building lies at the end of a yard, in one of those nameless

looking places, hidden away behind a gray roller shutter that faces the street. The building itself is a

maze of rooms and corridors, of similar looking doors, of remnants of anonymous lives put away in

boxes (and some more or less suspicious activities). Though knowing that this is a storage, the

fortress character of the building makes me feel indecisive whether I should think of it as a prison or

a vault. In greek mythology, Minos, first King of Crete, the son of Zeus and Europa had a prison built by

Daedalus in form of a labyrinth to hide the Minotaur in its core. I feel lost and alienated by this place

that supposedly is the home of former homes. We enter the room of Max installation, that could

resemble that mystic core, a parallel space that lies within the alternate, concluded world of this

building; mirroring from the inside the events on the outside. Three figures made from plaster are

in there. Each is about 140 cm tall, humanly but faceless, dressed in fabrics and patterned with

collages. The figures are all individually positioned around sleeping bags, of which each is carefully

draped, forming a trail around the figures feet. Two of the figures are facing another, while the third

one, seemingly left out, watches the two.


Two wall pieces made from painted synthetic leather complement the installation. Both are

blueprints of undefined but multi-sequenced spaces. The first shows the sentence “a contribution

to statistics: days are where we live”, while the second one reads “the superfluous”. Formally both

blueprints capture the labyrinthian disorientation of the storage building, playing with its contradicting

ideas of insight and outside, of protection and imprisonment, mapping out alternate constellations of

the three figures within the room. In sociologist Georg Simmel's Law of the Excluded Middle society

appears as an ever ongoing balancing act of the inclusion and exclusion of its members. A society,

according to Simmel, starts with three individuals, simplified to a 2+1 model, meaning that even those

who might think that they are excluded are naturally part of that society, whether they want to or are

wanted to be in it or not. Simmel argued that there cannot be a group of  three in which at one point

or another the third isn't seen as an intruder on the relations of the dyad.


The political relevance of the work unfolds its presence within the strongly connoted space it is

presented in. The undoubtedly vigorous attendance of the space forms a well balanced coalition

with the work, supporting it in its concerns. The space is adding a layer to the work, a reading, that

supports a realness to the aetheric other worldly figures. „Realism represents while I present“

Jannis Kounellis said and it too holds true to Max’ work. The reality the storage building represents

refers to our factual social and economical condition, its discourses and problematics; while the

work itself presents parabolically one of many possibilities how those social relations could be

shaped and constructed. Max’ work appears as if it is forming a fictional micro cosmos within a real

world macro. It offers a directness, a gentle frankness so to say, that is weighing its narration against

a reflection on what’s going on out there in the streets, anywhere outside this building. Max translates

Simmel’s basic social model quite literally, but empathetically. With "The Superfluous" he created a

mirror space for those who might are or feel neglected from participation within society, without

emphasizing to advocate on their behalf. Still, his work bears an unexpected lightness to it.

I wouldn't want to call it optimism, but a form of a hopeful realism that holds no judgment but

instead provides a precise study of social interrelations and their effects on the individual.


Is a sleeping bag the smallest unit of a home?


Daedalus symbolizes wisdom, knowledge, and power. He is the mythological archetype of the

intellectual architect but also the commissioned inventor of a fatal spatial regime, manifesting

through building structures, that Simmel tried to describe from the perspective of the maze of

social possibilities. And so is the construction of the public realm: it fails to serve those who

disintegrate into the concepts of a social sphere superimposed by dominating regimes. The

boldness of "The Superfluous" stems from this humble observation and choice of materiality,

that does not act to impress nor directly critique, but that lets us take part of a delicate and

sensitive perception of the meaning of space: A maze, as the principle of creation, of something

that simultaneously suggests order and chaos by indicating manifold options of future social histories.



Saskia Fischer, 2019