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Faceless part I

MuseumsQuartier 21, Wien

The exhibition explores the phenomenon of inescapable recognizability in the media and the resulting strategies of media users to become virtually faceless. The show features works by artists like Marina Abramovic, Thorsten Brinkmann, and Maison Martin Margiela as well as projects created by unknown Internet dwellers.

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The exhibition FACELESS at freiraum quartier21 INTERNATIONAL explores the phenomenon of inescapable recognizability in the media and the resulting strategies of media users to become virtually faceless. FACELESS takes a radical look at this fairly recent phenomenon of everyday media culture and shows how it manifests in visual art, fashion, photography, advertising, and dance. The show features works by artists like Marina Abramović, Thorsten Brinkmann, and Maison Martin Margiela as well as projects created by unknown Internet dwellers.

The highly diverse strategies and methods of making faces “disappear” on the Web can be read as ironic, angry, or justified criticism of our media-infused reality. Faces do not disappear, but are manipulated beyond recognition, sometimes disfigured. The artist Bogomir Doringer, in collaboration with Brigitte Felderer from the University of Applied Arts Vienna, curated the two-part exhibition FACELESS. Part 1 is on view from July 4 to September 1, 2013.

“Many of the faces that appear on the Web are familiar and well-known. We recognize them, associate biographies, scandals, stories with them, and get the impression of gaining an insight into a personality and even witnessing an entire life. But in the end, the physiognomies we encounter only reflect our own personal concept of happiness, recognition, attention, and success,” says Brigitte Felderer.

“FACELESS critically examines problems of our media culture and presents the various approaches taken by the artists selected. Due to the complexity of the subject, the exhibition will be shown in two parts, a first for freiraum quartier21 INTERNATIONAL,” adds Dr. Christian Strasser, director of the MuseumsQuartier Wien.

After the events of 9/11 and in response to the fear of terrorist attacks, the levels of transparency and control have been taken to areas where they would have been unthinkable before. This has led to a change in security concepts and the expansion of surveillance systems. Social networks, which often violate privacy but promise their users popularity in exchange, have become the norm. Many artists critically engage with this subject and use “hidden” faces as a possibility to live an unobserved life.

Artist Thorsten Brinkmann, for example, presents self-portraits that in color, pose, and composition are reminiscent of classic portrait painting. But used and discarded everyday objects replace his facial features. Masks and head coverings from fashion labels like Maison Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, and Bernhard Willhelm suggest that models’ faces have been redundant for the presentation of collections.

Conversely, a public persona like Marina Abramović attempts to relativize her high recognition value in photographic self-portraits. Frank Schallmaier, in turn, makes collages using photographs that he finds in social networks and online matchmaking sites for homosexuals: they portray people who show themselves, but hide their faces with the promise of retaining anonymity. Hester Scheurwater’s photographic works examine the media representation of women as objects of desire. In Ute Klein’s photographs the bodies of lovers melt into temporary, faceless sculptures. The self-portraits of Nienke Klunder parody the banal omnipresence of erotic images.

The side program of the exhibition includes special events, artist talks, workshops for kids and teens, and podium discussions. On opening night, visitors will be able to participate in the performance “Anonymity” by Addie Wagenknecht and Stefan Hechenberger, a playful critique of surveillance society. Black glasses distributed to the visitors are reminiscent of censor bars and images from surveillance cameras make the observed into observers. Addie Wagenknecht and Stefan Hechenberger developed “Anonymity” in New York and adapted it for the opening of the exhibition FACELESS. They are artists-in-residence of the Artistic Bokeh initiative, part of the Artistic Technology Research project of the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Marina Abramović (SRB/USA), Marc Bijl (NED/GER), Thorsten Brinkmann (GER), Dora Budor* & Maja Čule (CRO/USA), Ondrej Brody (CZE) & Kristofer Paetau (FIN), Asger Carlsen (DEN/USA), Nezaket Ekici (TUR/GER), Shahram Entekhabi (IRI/GER), Caron Geary aka FERAL is KINKY (GBR), David Haines (GBR/NED), Ren Hang (CHN)*, Sabi van Hemert (NED), Ursula Hübner (AUT), Damier Johnson aka REBEL YUTHS (NGR/ITA)*, Brian Kenny (USA), Ute Klein (GER)*, Nienke Klunder (USA), Lucy McRae (AUS) & Bart Hess (NED), Manu Luksch (AUT/GBR), Zachari Logan (CAN)*, Maison Martin Margiela (FRA), Slava Mogutin (RUS/USA), Veljko Onjin (SRB), Bernd Oppl (AUT), Tanja Ostojić (SRB/GER), Gareth Pugh (GBR), Eva-Maria Raab (AUT), Ana Rajcevic (SRB/GBR), Harem Royal (SRB), Tarron Ruiz-Avila (AUS)*, Viktor & Rolf (NED), Daphne Rosenthal (NED/USA), Mustafa Sabbagh (JOR/ITA), Olivier de Sagazan (FRA), Daniel Sannwald (GER/GBR)* for WOODKID, Frank Schallmaier (NED), Hester Scheurwater (NED), Jan Stradtmann (GER)*, Sergei Sviatchenko (UKR/DEN), Jun Takahashi for UNDERCOVER (JAP), Marc Turlan (FRA), Levi van Veluw (NED), Philippe Vogelenzang & Majid Karrouch (NED), Addie Wagenknecht (USA)* & Stefan Hechenberger (AUT)*, Katsuya Kamo for Junya Watanabe COMME des GARÇONS (JAP) und Bernhard Willhelm (GER/FRA).

*Artists-in-Residence im quartier21/MQ

Thanks to
all the participating artists
Brigitte Felderer and Bogomir Doringer
Ambassador Martin Eichtinger, Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs
Ambassador Roelof Buffinga and Suzanne De Bekker, Royal Netherlands Embassy
Daniel Gerer, Union of European Youth/Young European Federalists
Henrik Ahr, Thilo Ullrich, and Martin Hickmann, Mozarteum University in Salzburg
Gerhard Roithner, Roswel Spedition GmbH
Junsuke Yamasaki
Matthias Tarasiewicz, Artistic Bokeh
Martina Theininger, frame[o]ut
all our partners and sponsors
the quartier21/MQ team Elisabeth Hajek, Ulrike Fallmann, and Margit Mössmer

FACELESS is organized in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, the WIENER STÄDTISCHE Versicherung AG Vienna Insurance Group, the University Mozarteum Salzburg, the Dutch Embassy in Austria, as well as with the support of partners and sponsors from Austria and abroad.

Image: Lady Glittersky, 2009, C-print, 121 x 92cm © Thorsten Brinkmann, VBK, Wien 2013 and VG Bildkunst Bonn 2012

Press contact:
Mag. Elisabeth Hajek Tel. [+43] (0)1 5235881 – 1717 E-Mail:

Press preview: Wed, Jul 03, 10:00
Opening: Wed, Jul 03, 19:00
Participatory performance “Anonymity” by Artists-in-Residence Addie Wagenknecht (USA) & Stefan Hechenberger (AUT) in cooperation with Artistic Bokeh, part of the Artistic Technology Research project of the University of Applied Arts Vienna

Museumsplatz 1 MuseumsQuartier Wien
Hours: Tue-Sun 13:00-19:00
Free admission


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