From left to right: Felicity, Positronbob, Sarah (Rhubarb), me, and
This week, I met up with a small group of chaps and chapettes I had previously known only online, including Datazoid from, and went through the usual awkward standing around and staring at the floor this situation usually entails. Then, after we'd finished trying to impress each other by awkwardly joking about the increasingly long silences in the conversation, we went and had a look around the Brisbane museum and art gallery, for want of anything constructive to do.

Little did we know that FATE was about to take a gigantic piss into our pinned-open eyes, burning our retinas with destiny's ammonia.

Brisbane museum is a strange place indeed, where time has no meaning, and where the organisers spit in the face of the concept of consistency in exhibits. For example, the first thing you see when you enter the place is a dinosaur exhibit, where you get to look at all the petrified bones and pretend they look like huge cocks. Then, for some bizarre reason, you go straight onto a display of utensils dating from colonial Australia. Then, moving on a bit further, you pass some aboriginal musical instruments, and then you're with dinosaurs again. What if I had been illiterate or retarded? I'd have gone from the museum with the idea that stegosauruses used butter churns and played the didgeridoo.

The picture on the right is a close-up of the appallingly detailed rectum on an animatronic jungle cat exhibit. I produce it here because Datazoid and I found ourselves arguing as to whether it was intended, or if some wag had just shoved part of a sausage roll up there. I still haven't decided, and neither will you.

But it wasn't until we reached the art gallery that our lives were changed forever. An experience took place that bonded the five of us like a small platoon of soldiers trapped together behind enemy lines. It all started off innocuously enough, with a small exhibit of robotic cat thingies that I found myself getting friendly with, but then we stumbled upon a darkened projection room and found...


I'll repeat that so you can all finish copying it down.


As we sat in that tiny, darkened cinema, we found ourselves pinned to our chairs, hypnotised by the film being projected onto the far wall. Oh, if only you could have been there, cherished reader. I just know that the description I'm about to write isn't going to do the film the slightest bit of justice.

It was a film of a little fat hairy Austrian man balancing things on top of other things. He would spend a minute or so precariously balancing a couple of objects (or himself) in the middle of a featureless white room. Then, if he succeeded in getting them to stand unaided, he'd walk off and let us watch it until it collapsed. Or, if he failed too many times, he'd give up and move onto the next act.

Fortunately, Datazoid was ready to snap some stills, so you can now take my hand and experience for yourself the magical world of Erwin Wurm, the undisputed lord of putting things on top of other things.

Here we see our man Erwin attempting to balance himself horizontally on the side of a long bit of wood. This is one of the ones he wasn't able to pull off, but to his credit it only took him about eighteen goes to realise that it's completely fucking impossible to lie down on a surface two centimetres wide. The greatest thing about Erwin is that, as hilarious as we found him, he took himself so damn seriously. He never saw the funny side when he toppled off his plank for the umpteenth time. He'd scowl at the camera, swear incoherently, and try again. It was like he was saying, "Stop laughing at me! If I can't balance myself on the side of this plank for more than thirty seconds, THE LIVES OF ALL MANKIND ARE FORFEIT!"
Then, Erwin decided to blow our fucking socks off by staring at the wall and balancing a bucket on his head. Most of the tricks that involved him also involved him staring at the wall. This was either because he felt that his face would distract from the artwork's serious message, or he didn't actually know he was being filmed, and all of his antics were performed for the benefit of the wall. As I said to my cohorts at the time, this all suddenly made a lot more sense if you assumed that they made this film by locking Erwin in a white room for fifty years with nothing but a bucket of props, a camera, and a handful of peyote.
This is another one Erwin never quite managed to pull off. I presume he was trying to balance on his head while in a sitting position on a chair, but his body, malnourished from having nothing to eat but mildew, just couldn't manage it. By god did he try, though. After watching him fall flat on his face for the twelfth time, it suddenly became somewhat empowering. Okay, so he was trying to stand on his head with a chair on his arse, but you could see in his eyes that it was more important to him than my entire fucking life is to me.
Hey, what's more amazing that one bucket? TWO buckets! There wasn't much balancing involved in this one, it was just Erwin standing on one bucket with another over his head. I think he was trying to punish himself for letting us down so badly in the last adventure. I think it was at this point that I realised how Erwin worked. He started off with nothing but a featureless white room and a plank. So he made a film of it, and sent it to an art gallery. Then he took the proceeds from that and bought a bucket. He made a film with that, sold it to the art gallery, then used the proceeds from that to buy a chair. And so it goes on, until he's finally in a position to buy himself his very own Mercedes, then balance it on top of a carrot.

Yeah, now he's balancing pens on his shoes. But is it art? To answer this question, rate the likelihood that anyone ever uttered the words, "Hey, Michaelangelo! I like the ceiling and all, but when are you going to balance some pens on your shoes?"

"Here we see the female suitcase engaged in a life-or-death struggle with an Austrian performance artist. The suitcase is one of the Serengeti's deadliest but least-known pack hunters, and once its prey has been caught between its razor-sharp jaws, death is not far behind. The Austrian performance artist struggles in vain, and the pack gathers around to feed."

I feel that, with some of these pictures, making any sort of comment would only distract from the inherent richness of the image.

Whoa, he's gone up in the world. There wasn't a dry eye in the house as we realised that, yes, Erwin intended to balance a bicycle on his body by sticking the kickstand right in his goolies. I think it's fair to say that Erwin's devotion to his art has now robbed him of his chances of having offspring. If not, then he's going to father an awful lot of short children with funny walks.

Ah, the glamour shot. Believe it or not, this is actually one of Erwin's sculptures. First, he put some indistinct material in his mouth and started chewing it (best guess, it was HUMAN FLESH). Then he pulled up his collar and rested his jowls on it until his neck was completely obscured. I'm... I'm not sure what sort of deep meaning this was supposed to have. Maybe he didn't intend us to read too much into it. Maybe he just wanted to say to the world, "Hello, how are you? I am fat."
Whoa. Seriously, whoa. This image looks so cool on its own. Unfortunately, we had to watch him set the whole thing up, so we knew that he was just cleverly hiding most of his body behind the polystyrene, but when you just have this image, suddenly there's a moment's doubt. You could seriously think it's a polystyrene block with a human arm hanging listlessly, as if it's a bit depressed. Depression is a natural state for the polystyrene block. Polystyrene blocks can never know their fellows intimately, because the sound they make when they rub together is very abrasive and guaranteed to kill the mood.

And now the chair gets its revenge. The strange thing is, whenever Erwin involved a chair in his antics, it was always a different chair every time. Somehow I get the feeling that, if you ever went round Erwin's house and tried to sit on one of his chairs, he'd smack your wrist and say "NO! That chair is only for BALANCING ON MY EYEBALL!"

Please come out, Erwin, I promise I'll stop making fun of you now.

I found a mention of the fantabulous Erwin Wurm on this website, although the text takes things way too fucking seriously. Also, while you're surfing that information superhighway all the cool kids are talking about, be sure to spend some time on Datazoid's site, because he is a fine fellow and deserves your patronage.

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