Life-Long Weight-Gaining, 2013

Performance installation (solo exhibition)

Neuer Kunstverein Wien, curated by Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein

Life-Long Weight-Gaining

Performance, 3 1/2Std with chocolate scales


Life-long Weight-Gaining

Stand-up (photo print, 170x60cm)

Postcard (21x14,8cm)


Happy Valentine's day

Object (Photgraphy, foliert, auf Aluminium kaschiert,

MDF-Sockel lackiert, 6kg Pralinen, 110x40x65cm)


Life-long Weight-Gaining - Teaser

Animation video 16:9 (HD), 00:35

Life-Long Weight-Gaining, Foto: Robert Bodnar, Make-Up/Haare: Manuela Maderthaner
Life-Long Weight-Gaining, Foto: Robert Bodnar, Make-Up/Haare: Manuela Maderthaner

”Life-Long Weight-Gaining” is the awards ceremony of a fictional beauty contest. It ironically overacts the cult of skinniness as it awards for ”life-long weight-gaining”.
Within a live-performance, exhibition, and intervention in public space, the artist not only highlights the practice of discrimination against heavy people. In a humorous manner it also invites a maddening affirmation of fatness.

In this performative installation, one can see the ”LIfe-Long Weight-Gaining” sash upon a life-sized cardboard stand-up of myself. The stand-up serves as a placeholder for heavy people. It shows myself as a (half)naked body. One foot rests on several stacked bathroom scales while I hold my ”love handles” in my hands.

Within the installation a live performance takes place. I stand on the stacked scales, which have been cast out of chocolate, as the chocolate melts from my body heat. I am naked, my body is painted in an artificial skin color, and my hair is hidden underneath a mask of the same artificial color. A kind of a seam, an outline, runs across my skin which imitates the two parts of a casting form (e.g. chocolate easter bunnies).

The heroic gesture of the cardboard stand-up is in dialogue with the vulnerability of the naked performer within the installation. Furthermore, this dialogue is accompanied by the question of exhibiting performance art–a balancing act between an object in motion and a motionless subject (as theorized by French curator, Pierre Bal-Blanc)…

The third art work in the exhibition is called ”Happy Valentine’s Day”. A photo collage of two photographs lies on the oblique surface of a pedestal which is filled up with pralines to two-thirds. The upper part of the collage shows my faultless face. In the bottom part of the photo my heavy belly with stretch-marks appears slowly when the pralines are eaten. Pralines represent the ambivalence between pleasure and sin. The single candy resembles a fat cell in its cross-section. The know-how of manufacturing chocolate candies is always accompanied by the question: ”What is inside?”. This question is not only foiled by the lively hollow shape of the performer but could be interpreted in a more common sense. Our culture is determined by ritualized enjoyment and the claim of life-long abstemiousness (e.g. ”restraint eating”).

Aesthetically as well as linguistically this performative installation links to terms like ”Lifelong learning”. This demand for a life of flexibility is necessary within a systematic devaluation of skilled knowledge. This perpetual attention and, at the same time, breathlessness, is also expressed in the character of the fictional beauty contest. The artist’s hopes of positioning in the art world accumulates in a deep longing for recognition which demands being in the right time and place, non-stop.

chocolate scales, 2013, (c) Veronika Merklein, Foto: Robert Bodnar
chocolate scales, 2013, (c) Veronika Merklein, Foto: Robert Bodnar




"Die Presse" ("Werbung und Kunst nehmen an Gewicht zu", 16.5.2013)

"Wiener Zeitung" (25./26.5.2013)

"Werbung und Kunst nehmen an Gewicht zu", Almuth Spiegler, Die Presse, 16.05.2013
"Werbung und Kunst nehmen an Gewicht zu", Almuth Spiegler, Die Presse, 16.05.2013

Prof. Dr. Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein about the work of Veronika Merklein

As artist Veronika Merklein navigates between social, psychological, historical and philosophical systems of reference. After a long artistic (field) research Veronika Merklein navigates precisely to the respective media coordinate. This precise landing succeeds because of the explosive force of her works, she is a champion in implementing formal aesthetic. This impressive coordinates, their materialized marks: performances, texts, photographs, installations or objects, allow questions to the "human being". In complicity with irony and humor the visually pleasurable level still allows the statements to be urgent and effective. Within the solo-show „Life-Long Weight-Gaining“ at Neuer Kunstverein Wien the body as a socially morphed fact is the center of her artistic involvement - a complex installative setting of performance, objects, photography and a video screening in public space.