Manfred Pernice creates sculptures that vaguely suggest cargo holds, architectural fragments, and utopian models for larger, unrealizable buildings. His work stems from a long-standing interest in containers—whether buildings or shipping vessels—as symbols for our obsession with systematizing, categorizing, packaging, and regulating. Constructed out of the humblest of building materials, such as plywood and chipboard, his structures have a deliberately makeshift and provisional appearance. He frequently adds found materials, such as photographs or magazine clippings, to the surfaces—interruptions that further muddle the meaning of the works by making it unclear whether we are looking at interior or exterior, a volumetric structure or a support for something else. The uncertainty engendered by this oscillation between form and function is the conceptual crux of Pernice's practice; untamed and unfinished, his works are like open-ended propositions. Sekretär is emblematic of this ambiguity. The piece was first shown at the Villa Merkel in Esslingen, Germany, an exhibition space that was once the private home of a German industrialist. On the one hand, the work suggests domestic furniture—specifically, an oversize desk with a bookshelf, or secretary. At the same time, allusions to walls, windows, and structural supports imply an architectural structure. Pernice often develops his sculptures from tiny cardboard models and drawings, which provide clues to his thought process. In one of the drawings for Sekretär, the artist wrote "the secretary lives here" over what resembles a building elevation, hinting at the structure as a small dwelling or a proposal for some future residence.