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grafisches Element

STRUCTURES OF RADICALITY

10th December - 11th January 2009


PROJECT CURATOR: WALTER SEIDL »

Participant Artists:
Sabine Bittner And Helmut Weber
Petra Gerschner
Marina Grzinic und Aina Smid
Andrea Ressi

Book presentation: 9 December, 19.30, with Marina Gržinić, Gülsen Bal & Walter Seidl
New-Media Technology, Science, and Politics. The Video Art of Marina Gržinić & Aina Šmid, Vienna: Löcker Publishers, 2008

Concert: 9 December, 20.30
Jacques et les Fatalistes
Stefan Geissler (accordion, harmonica, kazoo, vocals)
Jakob Ortis (guitar, kazoo, vocals)


The exhibition project Structures of Radicality questions modes of how art still manages to formulate a progressive stance in today's market-driven society. Over the last decade, the divide between a capitalist-oriented art production and mere criticality has made the latter often appear in niches outside an institutional framework. The exhibition focuses on artworks which question the hegemonic structures of society and proclaim the necessity for lifestyles and political views which operate outside a mainstream agenda.

What are the regulative standards neo-liberal politics demands from the individual in order to operate in a world which follows the dictate of economic exploitation? Why does the turnover of businesses have to increase every year in order to widen the gap between the super rich and the poor? Which are the benefits of tax havens such as Jersey, which provides financial services for trillions of dollars whose taxation could help the respective states to provide a better infrastructure and benefits for a socially less powerful group of people? The recent financial crisis has proven how high-class gambling affects the world economy in a downward spiral domino effect.

At this point, artists are more than ever in search for alternatives vis-à-vis the dominant, economically and politically restrictive forces. Is it possible to find solutions for the problems at stake? The works in the exhibition deal with notions of forced migration; urban re-planning due to economic deregulation; and the medial perception of what seems to be a normative social effect. With the means of photography, video, and painting, a discourse on contemporary elements of power is being analyzed on the premises of how anti-strategies and radical interferences into the dominant capitalist system can be made.

By hinting at the forces behind global endeavours of inclusion and exclusion, the artworks raise questions about the possibility or impossibility of re-thinking models of social performance and the necessary steps for political action.


Sabine Bitter - Helmut Weber

Sabine Bitter - Helmut Weber Link

WE DECLARE: SPACES OF HOUSING | 2008

wallpaper, posters, video

Dealing with architecture as a frame for spatial meaning, the works of Bitter/Weber are at the interface of architecture, new media technologies, and systems of representation. Bitter/Weber's photographic and video works create a space for engaging with contemporary urban spaces as social environment and as political discourse. At the same time, they also create a space for debating contemporary image politics as a cluster of visual practices for organising society and constructing the public sphere and history.

The Vancouver and Vienna based artists, Sabine Bitter and Helmut Weber, present We Declare: Spaces of Housing, a project that addresses the sites and institutions where decisions and declarations regarding housing are made (ranging from local communities, to the provincial capital, and up to the United Nations). The situation-specific project brings these spaces of symbolic and real power into the gallery through large-scale photo-based images mounted on the wall. By collapsing the scale of these spaces and bringing them into a new relation, We Declare points to the difference between what Henri Lefebvre called the representation of space and the spaces of representation.

A beginning point of this project is the crisis in access to housing that Vancouver is facing at this moment (as well as the coming crisis that the Olympics will bring), but also the question of the potential of a socially attuned artistic practice in a city that is both “cultured” and globalized. We Declare aims to approach these issues and potentials by understanding that the situation of Vancouver is specific in the way that this crisis has developed and grown - as well as part of a global urban tendency that continually pushes property rights over the right to stable housing.


Petra Gerschner

Petra Gerschner Link

COME TOGETHER | 1984/97, photography / light box

PROBLEM OR SOLUTION? | 2005-08, videos

Petra Gerschner’s photo and video works analyze the construction of gender relations, cultural and racist stereotyping; the relations of power that produce social inclusion and exclusion. With performative interventions, the artist tries to develop perspectives of collective subversive agency and asks for the potentiality of artistic strategies and forms of interfering into current social processes.

The photo and video works from the cycle History is a Work in Process (Come Together) and Problem or Solution? explore how the increasing mediatization of politics and the omnipresence of advertising influence our perception of reality. Taking an existing image vocabulary as the basis, Gerschner reworks these images with her own re- and deconstructions. She visualizes methods and strategies of systems and creates new layers of meaning and reality.

In the different series of the semi-documentary and semi-fictional TV magazine Problem or Solution?, Gerschner addresses socio-political issues in 5 minute video contributions. The topics are the problems of the current discourse on security and the debate about torture as a means adopted by politics. In the world, there is no longer a state of peace which can do without war. War means torture, civilization through torture, torturing for peace. Which strategies can interfere into the dominant logic of war, torture and destruction?

The light box with the caption “Come Together” conveys the feeling for community during demonstrations against political misbehaviour. Using a light box with a slogan derived from a former advertising by the cigarette brand Stuyvesant, Gerschner recurs on the means of advertising, which, in this case, has to be understood as subversive and anti-hegemonic strategy.


Marina Grzinic and Aina Smid

Marina Grzinic and Aina Smid

HI-RES | 2006

Video

The videos of Marina Grzinic and Aina Smid form a synopsis of working with a medium which allows us to transcend the boundaries of objective reality as a fictional construct that can only be approached through a discursive matrix of cultural, social and political practices. Their art questions the status of dominant ideologies and the eclectic mix of post-modern and post-socialist thinking to show that the way out of the dilemma of historical preconceptions can only be found by a balancing of philosophical inquiries and visual fragments.

The video is based on the dance performance HI-RES by Maja Delak and Mala Kline and continues the tradition of Grzinic/Smid 's commentary takes, where actors or off-narrators reflect on the action by making reference to relevant topics in philosophical thinking. The colour red becomes a dominant marker not only in the apparel of the female dancers but also in that of the musicians Stefan Geissler/Jakob Ortis, who perform French cover versions on anarchy by the Sex Pistols towards the end of the video.

The central question which evolves within the action is the linkage of art and life, at the beginning of how the body of life and the life of the dancing body are intertwined or rather separated. Similarly, the question of art and politics arises and how these two entities mutually affect each other. How can art contaminate politics and how can politics contaminate art? This question gets answered in a sentence by one of the musicians who utters in German that we do not need a ghettoization of art but the mutual contamination of art and politics. This dependence is highlighted in the dance performance when one of the two female dancers drags along the other woman cowering behind by putting a finger into her mouth.

The video also relates to the problem of ownership of art exhibitions and institutions, when capitalism operates as a matrix of cannibalism which devours everything and leaves no room for resistance. This eventually leads to the privileging of only a few and creates emptiness which is enjoyed even in its state of boredom and snobbishness.


Andrea Ressi

Andrea Ressi Link

HYBRID URBANITIES | 2006/2008

Acrylic on MDF boards, 60cm x 90cm each

With the means of painting, Andrea Ressi works on the topic of urban shifts, which have developed in the wake of global moments of appropriation. The artist critically analyzes the potential of architecture and urban planning to form counter spaces of reflection, which try to antagonize the ever-increasing processes of social and political standardization. Working on the level of an advertising semiotics, Ressi's paintings take up current forms of mediality, such as the aesthetics of billboards, but go beyond their surface reality in order to achieve a deeper meaning of contemporary visual thinking.

Hybrid Urbanities - Fragments of the Global City analyzes urban developments and structures in today’s Global Cities. In the centre of interest lie the contradictions and disturbing encounters with and within newly implanted first world-structures into third world countries. The clash of such economic processes with traditional structures and lifestyles can be observed in the conflicts between corporate multinational companies and local economies/grey markets, gated communities and traditional housing/slums, copyrights and recycling culture, shopping malls and traditional bazaars and many others.

The choice of images from the unstable border zones between globalisation and local traditions show an alternative representation of global urbanity: fragmented places full of contradictions. This idea is enforced by the text fragments in the paintings which are very dense and concise. Both text and images are presented in a highly reduced way, thus pointing to the image of new global pictograms and a new urban sign language. The arrangement of the various single elements is flexible and corresponds to the ever changing and moving cities, giving different views on the global city and taking on new meaning in varying situations and contexts.


kind support provided by:

BM:UKK
Stadt Wien - Kulturabteilung MA 7




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