Instinctively, the work of Wolfgang Laib seems easy to explain, almost too simply:
there’s a list of half a dozen ingredients and an ongoing quest to bring together and
translate the bindings of nature and man. Still, this is only because of the blunt and
immediate impact of his work. Is it only an impulse? A minimal transgression brought about through curiosity?
Beyond museum regulations and behavioral restraints, Laib’s monumental ziggurat,
built up with piled beeswax blocks of different sizes, invites you to touch it, as if it
were a question about the nature of things. I felt tempted to stay around and count how many more would just do it, take a glance and then, as a natural impulse, feel it up and take a little piece of beeswax. I’ll venture so far as to say Laib had this in mind. The ziggurat is intended to be transitional, not to last — as a Babylonian ziggurat — but in essence; not in its representation (or even its possible explanation) but in its ultimate evidence.
Considering the nature of Laib’s work, there is no ambiguity in the title given to the show: “Paso-Traspaso” (literally: Pass-Trespass), but still, it allows a pun (also
literally, step by step). Laib appeals to the sacred and its fundamental vessels — which are his materials — such as rice, flower pollen, milk and marble. Each play a double role in his installations; they are what they are, but also, they stand for what they are. Maybe faith or belief play a missing link. Maybe it’s only doubt against the evidence. An untouched square made of pine pollen glows under a fixed light, as does the milk that is poured over a marble sheet. In Laib’s own words: “Beauty is not something that can be made but I can be part of it. This is what it’s about.”