Camera Austria, Kunstverein Medienturm, rotor and Grazer Kunstverein. Kunstverein Medienturm features two solo shows by Kerstin Cmelka and Doris Piwonka. Grazer Kunstverein features a selection from the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles (CSROT) with works by Willem Oorebeek, Lucy Skaer and Christopher Williams. rotor features the second part of "Measures of Saving the World". Camera Austria features the solo show by Sven Johne.
Art and Life Form
08 06 2013 — 25 07 2013
The Graz-based playwright and dramatist Wolfgang Bauer coined the term “microdrama” for plays that often approximate the filmic with their brevity and hardly realisable stage directions, though he always rejected the idea of actually filming the pieces. This dramatic form, which—merely conceived as text—eludes performability, thus subverts the boundaries of theatre. An interest in filigree subversion and an exploration of work evincing fractures are posited at the centre of Kerstin Cmelka’s eclectic, multimediatic re-stagings of historical material taken from film, art, and theatre in her solo exhibition at the Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien (KM–).
The involvement of fellow artists in these re-stagings leads to (re-)doubling in the construction of a usually fragile complicity with the viewers. The newly negotiated assertions, apparent here, between the poles of art and life are shown to overlap, and a reflexive meta-commentary on exceedingly free interpretation is always also staged as well.
What is more, the determinacy of historical templates—in confrontational contrast with repetitions enacted by the representational “amateurs” and in inhabiting additional levels—aims to answer these questions: How might the liberation of the gaze trained on the things between art and privateness come about? Which originally intended moments of utopia are of apparent continued relevance?
A sculptural display in the form of a sofa ensemble, which gesturally thematises and reflexively extends a general invitation to the exhibition audience, makes possible the achronological and rotative viewing of Cmelka’s current video works: The film “Art and Life”, composed of three different and separate sequences, shows an artsy Viennese couple arguing while journeying by car, a short silent-film sequence, and an interview segment connoting a therapeutic setting. The individual scenes echo reenactments of cinematic and television films from the 1970s. The silent sequence, for example, simulates the ORF performance of the singer Nina Hagen on the Austrian talkshow “Club 2”, where the musician scandalously demonstrated female masturbation during heterosexual intercourse. In the psychotherapeutic conversation, in turn, Cmelka facilitates an authorship of illusory ambiguousness, both in front of and behind the camera.
In “The Individualists”, four of Cmelka’s friends and fellow artists— Jordan Wolfson, Dan Posten, Anke Weyer, and Alexis Hyman—reenact three different interview scenes from television and YouTube while following the transcription as a script. Two are historical: an excerpt from “52 Bond Street”, a 1970s interview series that David Byrne realised in his flat on Bond Street, featuring various artists, such as the twenty-five-year-old Jeff Koons; further, a hotel-room interview between Bianca Jagger and the thirty-year-old Steven Spielberg after one of his first film premieres. A third interview is shown, in a contemporary context: Dr Laura Schlessinger, a TV and radio lifestyle consultant, introducing her current book Surviving a Shark Attack on Land on morning television.
All three templates share a propensity for the supernatural: ghosts in television static, radio reception in dental fillings in the Spielberg scene, hyper-metaphorical city names as symbols of affective states in the Koons clip, and metaphorical imagery that slips into the surreal and the absurd. Moreover, the three video recordings have been edited with a heavy hand, so that individual scenes transition into one another while similarities in space and content, simultaneities, and the absurdity of their narrative are enhanced.
The exhibition Kunst und Lebensform (Art and Life Form), which spans both spatial levels of the KM– venue and is opening with a live theatre performance, will be accompanied by the artist’s first monographic catalogue published by the Verlag für moderne Kunst (Nuremberg) in cooperation with the Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof
08 06 2013 — 25 07 2013
The artistic practice of Doris Piwonka (born 1968, Judenburg) is a prime example of painting that is cognisant of one’s own historical conditions, but also of the present-day situation. Moreover, it stands for the pursuit of a discourse on contemporary painting, which is asserted with faith in the renewable, aesthetic, and visual energies inherent to the medium. In Piwonka’s first institutional solo exhibition, held at the KM–, Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien in Graz, an exemplary selection of paintings from several work complexes and creative periods will be on show, extending beyond a purely formal interest in painterly matters. The artist presents painting not in the sense of discerning withdrawal but, on the one hand, by stepping out of her canonical discourse of crisis while subtly integrating its boundaries and realities and, on the other, by demonstrating awareness of a media-reflexive perspective.
“Over the years, this strategy increasingly gains in complexity. Like set pieces, more and more painterly means are integrated into the pictures, which, taken in isolation, do not want to be something new; yet through a steady arrangement and rearrangement, they overwrite the impression left by what has already transpired and so begin to radiate renewed strength and independence” (Martin Prinzhorn).
Continual developments and refinements of Piwonka’s pictorial language are perceptible thanks to their coherence. In her paintings, picture surfaces separate the space of contemplative, planar spaces of colour from the realm of pragmatic reflexion on the place where the image exists and on the conditions and implications of this existence. A kind of dual-sided topography informs these paintings. The relation between foreground and background colouring is likewise highly involved, with the image sections divided as if into two pictorial spheres, suggesting an affective point of access to the picture. Despite irritations regarding the placing of paint layers, her painting demonstrates the illusory character of that first demarcation with which the image sections off its own space as image: rectangular forms contrast with the colour fields on which they are placed, delineating the only clear lines in the picture and opening potentialities of differentiation, especially through their distance to the frame.
The extent to which referential remnants of a material reality may still play a role here likewise remains suspensefully open, solely borne by the employment of painterly means. Unfolding along these painstaking sequences of undecidability are ambivalent contexts posited between the resoluteness of form and the indeterminableness of its borders. Piwonka succeeds in garnering from painting, from the organisation of coloured surfaces, from its materiality and historical overweighting those possibilities, means, and painting styles that are not confirmed by self-referential legitimation discourse, nor primarily geared to academically codified methods—but rather those that streamline the meaning-charged question as to how a painting is made and what it represents along the idiom of abstraction.
Temporäre Autonome Zone, Galerie Lisa Ruyter, Vienna / BOBOEGGOHOJOKRLEPIPOSTWI Atelier Blattgasse, Vienna (2012)
Georg-Eisler-Preis 2010, exhibition of the work of nominated artists, Bank Austria Kunstforum, Vienna (2010)
Concetti di pittura, ar/ge kunst Galleria Museo, Bolzano (2006)
Grant by the Province of Styria for the contemporary visual arts, Neue Galerie Graz (1999)
Halle für Kunst & Medien
Burgring 2 - 8010 Graz, Austria
Tuesday to Sunday 11am–6pm
8 June – 11 August 2013
A selection from the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles (CSROT) with works by Willem Oorebeek, Lucy Skaer and Christopher Williams
The Grazer Kunstverein continues its exploration within the realms of social abstraction, by presenting a selection of the elaborate collection of historic textiles assembled by Seth Siegelaub (b. 1941, The Bronx) for the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles. Currently comprising of around 650 pieces, the collection includes woven and printed textiles, embroideries and costume, ranging from fifth-century Coptic to Pre-Columbian Peruvian textiles, late medieval Asian and Islamic textiles, and Renaissance to eighteenth-century European silks and velvets. At the Grazer Kunstverein, a selection of 50 items will be shown alongside art works. The exhibition follows The Stuff That Matters at Raven Row (London) in 2012, which marked the collection’s first public presentation.
After running his own gallery in New York from 1964 to 1966, Seth Siegelaub played a pivotal role in the emergence of what became known as Conceptual Art, which resulted in a series of 21 art exhibitions in groundbreaking formats he organized between 1968 and 1971. In 1972 he turned away from art and moved to Paris, where he published and collected leftist books on communication and culture, and founded the International Mass Media Research Center. In the early eighties he began collecting textiles and books about textiles, and in 1986 founded the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles, which conducts research on the social history of hand-woven textiles. In 1997 he edited and published the Bibliographica Textilia Historiae, the first general bibliography on the history of textiles, which has since grown online to over 9,000 entries.
The intimate relationship between textiles and society can be seen, as Siegelaub explains, in the fundamental role textile played in the rise of the capitalist system and the industrial revolution. While the form and aesthetics of textiles in general are determined by the way they are manufactured, the selection of items in the exhibition at the Grazer Kunstverein specifically are based on the abstraction of forms in relation to function. Amongst the items on display will be Barkcloth (tapa) and headdresses from the Pacific region (especially Papua New Guinea) and Africa.
The textiles in the exhibition will be shown alongside the works of three artists, Willem Oorebeek, Lucy Skaer and Christopher Williams, whose conceptual work reflects on notions of craftsmanship, industrial (re)production, modernity, appropriation and representation.
The work of Willem Oorebeek (b. 1953, Rotterdam, NL) evolves around the status of the image, its reproduction and circulation. Employing graphical print techniques he reworks images selected from the mass media to de-contextualize their meaning. Oorebeek’s dot-screen-wall (2008), for example, renders a blow-up of the dot as the primary element of mechanical printing. Following the logic of photographic enlargement, these dots are arranged as a wallpaper pattern to frame a blank cinema screen, subjecting cinematic experience to the language of interior decoration.
A further investigation into the destruction of the medium of photography and in particular its structures of representation and classification in regards to industrial culture, can be found in the work of Christopher Williams (b. 1957, Los Angeles, US). Using the process of reproduction as a point of entry, the artist manipulates the conventions of advertising, the superficiality of surface, and ultimately the history of Modernism. Deeply political, historical, and sometimes personal, the photographs are meant to evoke a subtle shift in our perception by questioning the communication mechanisms and aesthetic conventions that influence our understanding of reality.
Lucy Skaer (b. 1975, Cambridge, UK) continues the scrutiny of representation and classification by exploring the abstraction created by high capitalism: the tension between objects, their “exchange value” or associated image on the one hand, and their direct material nature, denuded of their context and meaning on the other. Her films, installations and sculptures present a push and pull between representation and the still recognizable meaning and physical shape of the original subject matter.
By juxtaposing these artistic positions with the collection, the textile items will, along with their social and political historical references, renegotiate their aesthetical and formal qualities. The analogy drawn between the items of the collection and the artists’ works will further provoke thoughts on “abstraction”, “surface”, “materiality” and “classification” in relation to both functionality and autonomy.
An essay by artist and writer Doug Ashford is published for the occasion.
Curators: Krist Gruijthuijsen, director Grazer Kunstverein, and Maxine Kopsa, director Kunstverein, Amsterdam
Tradition is the result of a collaboration between Marres, Centre for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht, Kunstverein, Amsterdam and Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria.
Palais Trauttmansdorff, Burggasse 4, A-8010 Graz
Opening Hours: Wed–Sun 11am–6pm
MEASURES OF SAVING THE WORLD _PART 2
Duration: 8.6.-20.7. & 19.8.-7.9.2013
Participating artists: Anca Benera & Arnold Estefán, Swaantje Güntzel, Markus Jeschaunig, Folke Köbberling & Martin Kaltwasser, Ivan Moudov
Curated by: Margarethe Makovec & Anton Lederer
“In today’s world, economics is separated from, and opposed to, both ecological processes and basic needs”, writes the Indian scientist and thought leader Vandana Shiva. As a fierce critic of industrial monoculture, which evades all democratic participation and control, she is one of those essential voices who call for a radical change in thinking. That is, one that even questions the apparently most fundamental agreements. In contrast, there is the belief in the feasibility of technological solutions for anything and everything, even if these obviously severely compromise our natural foundations of life. So do we go on hoping for a “world machine” or will flowers save humankind in the end?
< rotor > center for contemporary art
Volksgartenstrasse 6a, 8020 Graz, Austria
Opening hours during exhibitions:
Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed on Sundays and bank holidays
Where the sky is darkest, the stars are brightest
8.6.2013 – 1.9 2013
For many years now, the multifaceted field of documentary photography and its interlinkage with texts, information, stories and history has taken center stage in Sven Johne’s photographic practice. In his works—often based on research on site—he systematically deals with the relationship between what can be experienced and known and what can be shown and communicated about it. In the process, it becomes clear time and again that documentary images are not exclusively an element of the visible but that a fundamental dependence on words and knowledge is inscribed in them—that a shift in the status of the images, an uncertainty with regard to their possibilities of producing meaning is the result.
For his first extensive solo presentation in Austria, the artist combines a selection of works from recent years with new projects which pinpoint this precarious, controversial and increasingly questioned space of “documentality” (Hito Steyerl) of the visual in the world of today. In this respect, the exhibition project focuses on the specific practices and methods in which Sven Johne involves the photographic image in different projects in different places: the claim for reportage, the interest in marginal events, the missing of representation, the gap between text and image—whereby the artist outlines an essential contribution to the current debate circling around the documentary.
For his most recent “Griechenland-Zyklus” (Greek Cycle), Sven Johne has traveled to different mainland places and islands in Greece since 2012 which can also be found in any tourist brochure (Syntagma Square in Athens, Mykonos, Delphi, Corinth, Corfu etc.). He took a photo of the starry night sky in all of these places— then he noted down date, time and place, and added a diary entry to each photo: “25 August 2012, 02:08 am, Chora, Mykonos Island: And here they are moored, the yachts of the tax fugitives, says the taxi driver, what affluence! Does Mykonos still belong to Greece? The two of us have fun. But the harbor is going to be privatized in the very near future. Downtown luxury shops, jewelry and expensive hotels. I can’t find a room. Finally, at two in the morning, I am ready to pay any price.”
Separately, all elements of this project—the places, the photos, and the texts—do not aim at anything essential: On site, there isn’t any truth to be discovered, or any crucial and exemplary representation to be wrested from any individual specific presence. Moreover, the lower part of the glazing of the prints shown in the exhibition is covered by a silkscreen surface, where the visitors can read the associated diary entry. Hence, also the last possibility to identify an actual place on the basis of details of landscapes or buildings is made impossible and masked out by this text box.
In this new work, Sven Johne continues a strategy which can also be spotted in other works presented in the exhibition—”Großmeister der Täuschung” (2005), “Ship Cancellation” (2004), or “Ostdeutsche Landschaften” (2005)—and which could be described as the simulation of documentary reportage. Simulation insofar as the individual starting points of interest—unusual public acts and personal fates, shipwrecks, the effects of the crisis in Greece—cannot be retrieved in a comprehensible and coherent project background but are for the most part juxtaposed in unexpected ways (the Wehrmacht massacre of Kalavryta in 1943, the African peddlers in Patras, an innkeeper in Agios Germanos etc.). Moreover, even these individual actual events and encounters are not translated into figurative representation: What is shown is neither the peddlers nor Syntagma Square but always only the starry night sky, with a superimposed text, which also rather links disparate details to the image than comments on it or integrates it in a superordinate narrative.
It is local events, moments of stepping out of order, which attract the artist’s attention and from which he builds a mosaic of details. It is under the starry night sky as a metaphor for order and navigation where he staged these incoherent details, like an odyssey that requires cunning to reach one’s destination. What we get from the laboratory of the neoliberal annihilation of an entire country is only pictures of its night sky and the artist’s anecdotes from his trips. Hence, the future is more than uncertain, and this work presents ambivalent motifs between aberration, hope and salvation.
What has been created is a reportage whose form pretends to act like reportage. And it is more than anything else this “dissonance” between the image and its meaning, between the image and the “event”, the shift between what can be seen and what can be said, what the text ‘shows’, which reveals the fundamental ambivalence between “discourse” and “document” inherent in the documentary: Documentary images were put under general suspicion already a long time ago, their truthfulness was dismissed, and our trust in what they show disappeared. Nevertheless, these documentary images are proliferating more than ever within a large number of media environments.
It is by separating the elements which must meet in order to link an image to any specific meaning that Sven Johne exhibits his specific examination of the documentary. In this way he provides an important contribution to opening up possibilities; to conceiving new linkages to meaning by means of images, especially documentary ones; to introducing a basically open space of meaning production which can be understood as a space for other visual politics.
Born in Bergen, island of Rügen, in 1976, lives and works in Berlin.
Among his most recent solo exhibitions there are "Der Weg nach Eldorado", KLEMM’S, Berlin (2013); “Following the Circus”, Galerie Christian Nagel, Antwerp (2012); “Greatest Show on Earth”, KLEMM’S, Berlin (2011); “Photographic and Video Work”, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong (2011); and “Berichte zwischen Morgen und Grauen”, Frankfurter Kunstverein.
He participated i.a. in “Making History”, Frankfurter Kunstverein and MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt; “Made in Germany Zwei”, Sprengel Museum, Hannover; “Cantemus—Choirs, the Sublime and the Exegesis of Being”, ARGOS, Brussels; and “Doppelte Ökonomien”, Halle 14, Leipzig (all 2012).
A monographic contribution by Sven Johne with a text by Susanne Holschbach was published in Camera Austria International 118/2012.
Video screening and artist's talk: 30.8.2013, 7pm
Lendkai 1 - 8020 Graz
Opening hours of the exhibition:
TUE– SUN 10 am – 5 pm
On 7 June a free shuttle service will be offered as part of the CMRK exhibition openings at Camera Austria, < rotor >, Grazer Kunstverein, and KM– (all exhibitions will have extended opening hours on this day from 6–10 p.m.): departure Vienna, 3 p.m., Opera, IKEA parking lot; return departure, Graz, 11:30 p.m., KM–, Burgring 2.
Image: Kerstin Cmelka, Male!, 2012. C-Print