Bernhard Hegglin “Tendons & Joints” at MMXX, Milan

While visiting the studio of a friend, we talk about one of her sculptures. It isn’t simple to pinpoint what we are actually dealing with. What is lying at our feet, devoid of any strain, reminds me of these jointed animal figurines made of wood which collapse when one pushes the button on the base of their stand. We look at pictures of these so called push puppets and this evokes a quite specific/concrete, haptic childhood memory of mine and pulling me in; there is nothing nostalgic to it, nothing wistful, it is purely sensory.

The toy was designed over 100 years ago; its functionality has hardly changed since. The figurine is kept in position by strings stretched by springs. The indestructible mechanism with the button is hidden in the stand. If one misses the true center of it when pressing with the thumb, the figurine only looses its balance and starts to contort. When fully pressed, the little animal collapses and only gets back up, when no more pressure is applied.

With this thought in the back of my mind I pass a pharmacy. The pharmacy is advertising a remedy for joint problems with exactly such little animals. In the shop window, the toys become a prop which are to guide the attention of passers-by towards their products—in combination with a witty advertising slogan. Unfortunately, I forgot how it went.

at MMXX, Milan
until December 17, 2022