Since 1999 I’ve created sculptures modelled after chewed pieces of gum in sporadic intervals. Larger installations were on view at the EXPO.02 in 2002 and at FRI-ART in Fribourg in 2006. In addition to colorful, shiny pieces, some have also been made of concrete and black plaster. New compositions were shown at the Rehmann Museum in Laufenburg in 2014, at KUNST Zürich in 2016 and at Untergröningen Castle in 2020.
“Schwander chews gum as if thought could be kept in motion by doing so. Once the elastic colored mass has faded and the substance has hardened, the chewing gum is spat out and placed with the others in the studio, archived as a potential form. The gum represents an irreducible residue. The activity of the hands comes into play when the object is shaped and during the painstaking treatment of its surface. Grasping a thing in the hands appears to be analogous to the grasping and understanding of an object and its form.”
“With his sculptural works, Markus Schwander continuously reflects on the frame of reference for a work. His objects define their own locations completely autonomously, contrasting their own fictitious, specific reality with the real exhibition space. His sculptures, such as the extremely oversized chewing gums or the pieces of furniture stripped of functionality, possess an exemplary nature which defies definite legibility, seeking and preserving a peculiar autonomy in the situation arranged by the artist.”
“Although the chewing gum sculptures are reminiscent of Pop Art in terms of a celebration of the everyday in a modernist culture of consumer goods, Schwander is more interested in the thing before or after it is assigned a value. As an everyday and popular form of the imprint, chewing gum is an inferior and insignificant material. The form used as a template for the sculptures is determined solely by the duration of chewing; namely by the moment when the taste of the gum disappears. In this sense, the chewing gums are empty spaces of no great importance and only usable for a short time. Markus Schwander transforms these distasteful and worthless things into aesthetic and seductive objects. A shift of value is incurred by the shift between senses, for as soon as the taste no longer has a function, the visual acquires new meaning. As a material, chewing gum can take on any shape; after casting in plastic or bronze, the shiny and pastel-colored object seems clearly artificial, yet simultaneously nature-like due its organic form.”
“The sculptures developed for the SAC project, for example, are based on the most common and popular form of imprint imaginable: a piece of chewing gum, chewed and spat out. The artist models each sculpture after a different piece of gum, which he translates to a larger scale, combines with found stones of varying size or with a crystal, and finally casts in concrete. The casting of the sculpture results in a unification which blurs the difference between the modeled section and the added stones, between art and nature, yet does not completely obscure it.”