English summaries April 23 - May 6
translated and summarized by: Liz Wollner-Grandville, 07.05.12
Danh Vo – Vo Danh
21.04.12 – 24.06.12
By Wolfgang Ölz
In Bregenz, Danh Vo is presenting his work on all three floors of the Kunsthaus so that the entire show is one complete work of art composed of one huge installation of mixed media. There are black-and-white photos on the first floor depicting scenes from Vietnam, there are folding tables on the second floor that are like a glimpse into the atelier where Danh Vo does his work and there are packing cartons on the third floor which Vo has covered with his trademark, namely letters and flags in gold leaf. The Kunsthaus Bregenz is an institution that operates internationally but this time, the unconventional and spontaneous doesn't seem, quite justifiably, to spring from the art itself. It seems as if this exhibition has been put together very hastily and also very intuitively. This could be associated with the modus operandi of the Vietnamese shooting star who - as opposed to a Damien Hirst who employs a whole staff of assistants - has let his father produce some works such as the golden inscriptions.
And there we have the first decisive keyword, namely "Father". As a small child, Danh Vo fled from Vietnam as one of the Boat People, and his father, a fervent Catholic, took the family to Denmark where Vo spent his youth and also studied art. In a conversation, it's the far eastern smile coupled with artistic understatement, which appears to make the artist congenial but not unprofessional - or let's say non-professional. And yet the show is perfectly composed right through from beginning to end, and has its own charm which is precisely to be found in the hasty way of working. The Cinderella fairy tale appears again and again in the show, written by the father and printed in gold leaf on cartons in Thailand. Vo himself isn't interested in the beautiful girl who does nothing but gets her prince in the end; he's more interested in the ugly sisters who cut their feet into shape to make them fit the shoe. Vo is convinced that hard, yes even brutal, correction – as opposed to just being beautiful and letting everything fall into one's lap - more closely corresponds to reality.
Danh Vo works a lot with dreams whereby he doesn't want to stipulate which dream is more true or correct. Is it the father's dream of his own Mercedes, which is presented in the form of an engine mount readymade in the style of Marcel Duchamps? Is it the dream of a better life, which every emigrant carries inside of him when he is in New York and sees the Statue of Liberty for the first time? Is it the dream of being drunk, which Vo has evenly distributed in Johnny Walker bottles on the first floor? Or is it the dream of a heavenly netherworld, which those French missionaries, murdered in 19th century Vietnam, carried in their hearts, and whose epigraph Vo has carved on a marble slab for posterity? Without doubt, Danh Vo produces great art, even if he leaves questions open. One can excuse the provisional folding tables and the gold leaf strewn over the staircase because the Kunsthaus's sacralization trap has simply snapped shut and makes everything great where fortuitousness, and not a regulatory intellect, has helped.
6900 Bregenz, Karl Tizian Platz
Tel: +43 5574 48 594-0
Fax: +43 5574 48 594-8
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10-18, Thu 10-21 hours
Galerie nächst St. Stephan
30.03.12 – 19.05.12
By Charles Nebelthau
One hears from people who visit exhibitions because the name of the artist appeals to them - just as others wear suits by Armani or carry bags made by Louis Vuitton - because it sounds good. Moreover, there can be no illusion as to how tempting lines of letters are! Reluctantly, one could try to understand the exhibition "Planiverse" by Polly Apfelbaum as if it were about “Flach am Rücken der Welt” (Flat on the Back of the World) by Oliver Hasenschaum. That should strengthen one's ability to observe the works in a sober and true manner but at the same time to be receptive to them as true art.
In the project room Login in the Grünangergasse, one sees five strips of paper hanging from the wall which, for their part, are painted in subtly different formations of different coloured stripes, and a plinth in white monotone patterned tiles.
Six table tops on trestles, on which coloured modelling clay tiles and small heaps of colour are nonchalantly places on differently coloured paper, are to be found in the first room of the gallery. On the longitudinal wall, barely a dozen-and-a-half papers, also painted with stripes, hang in three rows forming a square; the colours here aren't quite so firey as the accumulation on the makeshift tables. It is somewhat relieving that this is less concerned with saving the world and more as if it concerned a delight in complimentary contrasts, intrinsic contrasts, light-dark contrasts, proportions, arrangements, commensurability, etc.
But so many presentations of happily kneaded creations can also be aggressively affecting – after all, modelling clay is a material with which many people have already had something to do when they were in Kindergarten. Does the fact that one has not played with it for such a long time really make one aggressive? In the press release, Leon Steinberg’s article “The Flatbed Picture Plane” is mentioned in which Robert Rauschenberg's imaging of processes are described, in which materials are brought together on a flat space. All works presented are colourful or have been made colourful; in the next room, two strips with transitions from brown to mauve or pink and back lie on the floor and in the small room, pallet-like, equally colourful, glazed clay plates hang on the wall. One of the six bulging plaster forms on two plinths is such a strong egg-yolk yellow that the rest of them in white plaster appear pale.
Galerie nächst St. Stephan
1010 Vienna, Grünangerg. 1/2
Tel: +43 1 5121266
Fax: +43 1 5134307
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11-18, Sat 11-16 hours
Klimt - up close and personal
24.02.12 – 27.08.12
By Aurelia Jurtschitsch
1897 – Klimt is 35 years old, established, and has already been honoured with the Golden Cross for Service by Kaiser Franz Josef I, entrusted with state commissions (faculty pictures) and is now the first president of the Vienna Secession, which he himself helped to initiate. - On April 14, 1897, the stream of communication to the "Most Esteemed Miss Emilie Flöge" begins. About 400 postcards and letters from Klimt's pen to Emilie Flöge (with some individual exceptions) make up the crowning treasure of the Klimt Personally exhibition. After all, it has to do with the private correspondence between the celebrated famous-infamous artist and also with his desire for models, and his 12 years younger friend, muse, lover(?) – in any case, the sister of his sister-in-law, the leading fashion designer in Vienna after 1900.
The series of letters begins impetuously with Klimt's last-minute cancellation of their French lesson and a plea for dispensation (and that several times). Letter No. 2 is certainly the most brilliant and sparkling, containing a winged and radiant heart that flies to Emilie from Munich to Vienna and a "long kiss" that snakes as a sort of semiotic line with devotion to "Gustav". Several invitations to theatre evenings are formulated in a friendly manner but are short and to the point. Klimt speaks willingly about his bodily well-being and not well-being and also invariably about the weather which he takes literally as a trend indicator, observes the changes in nature – some of which inspire him to create his pictures, such as a landscape at Attersee.
Klimt manifests all this as a contemplative person, as a visual person, as a life person – both in the choice of the card subjects whether it be on a journey from Vienna (such as the art postcards from the Vienna Workshop, or views of the zoo) as well as in the descriptions of what moves him.
The selection of the postal tidings was unwittingly curated because after Klimt's death, a large portion of the post from "GUS" (as he liked to sign himself) to Emilie was burnt. Was it a targeted selection? Which pages should not be preserved? Nevertheless, the remaining paperwork continually documents the 20 years of the joint, but separated lives. Klimt and Flöge never lived together; he with his mother and two sisters, she in her own flat. In order to keep up with his urge to communicate, he favours by far and away the newly-discovered, highly efficient tube post over the telephone. There are days on which he writes several cards. His way instinctively reminds one of the present form of writing SMS's – and, if one thinks about it consequently, art historians will complain yet again because the SMS's and E-mails of the present-day artists will not be filed for a sufficient length of time.
Based on news such as: "In Ravenna, much squalor – the mosaics are simply wonderful." Or "El Greco is magnificent!", or the "conviction that there is no area of human life that is so insignificant and humble that it cannot offer room for artistic ambitions" (quote from the speech to the exhibition of 1908), the exhibition producers want to go against the cliché that Klimt did not leave anything essential to posterity – this calculation doesn't add up. Which doesn't diminish the fact that a voyage of discovery is waiting in the wings behind what is described as a shy person. One could also take the standpoint that a private correspondence satisfies less interest in art history than it reveals a personal side of a human. And if one expects more "expedient evidence" in the extant (paparazzo-like) lines in light of Klimt's definitely permissive way of life – in July 1899, his first son, Gustav Ucicka was born and in the September of the same year his second son, Gustav Zimmermann – one is, for the purpose of Klimt, rebuffed by his absolutely revealing pictures.
1070 Vienna, MuseumsQuartier
Tel: +43 1 525 70 – 0
Fax: +43 1 525 70 – 1500
Opening hours: Wed – Mon 11 – 19, Fri 11 – 21 hours
Inge Morath Award
19.04.12 - 9.06.12
By Stephan Maier
The courses have been booked out for weeks - on a normal workday, the day following the opening of the current exhibition, one hundred visitors are pouring into the new rooms of the Fotohof in Salzburg to attend a discussion with the artists. With its relocation to Lehen, the city’s secret celebrity precinct, the competence centre for artistic photography achieved an unexpected kick and visitor figures that other art associations wouldn’t even dare to dream of.
The actual reason for the festivity dates one year back: in 2011, the association celebrated its 30th anniversary. The Fotohof 2012 is characterized by transparency and openness - only the outside walls are rigid, the other walls are easily moveable (architecture by transparadiso). Yet no matter how innovative the space concept, which was expanded from formerly 280 to now 465 m2 is, the association remained true to itself. From its earliest days, the Fotohof was organized as a grassroots democracy, decisions aren’t simply made - but discussed at length until consensus has been achieved among all those involved.
At the opening, the unspectacular and sensational Dirk Braeckman was presented. With the four Inge Morath Award-winners (Olivia Arthur, Lurdes R. Basoli, Emily Schiffer and Zhe Chen), the current exhibition shows younger positions – placed somewhere between agency and museum, magazine journalism and artistic aspirations.
The exhibition in the library presents the series “Exemplary Photo Books”, in which historic material from the “Fiesta in Pamplona” (1955) - by the legendary “Magnum” photographer Inge Morath, with whom the Fotohof has been closely connected since 1991 - and the photo book “Salzburg – An Artist’s View” are assembled.
Tel.: +43 662 84 92 96
Fax: +43 662 84 92 96 – 4
Opening hours: Tue – Fri 15 – 19, Sat 11 – 15 hours
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