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English sumary September 15 - 21

Haus der Kunst: Brilliantfeuerwerk Beacon brute Eleven companies. Eleven collections. One exhibit. Always a full stop in between, not a comma, otherwise it would be a boring list, but no exclamation marks, they would make it too pretentious – this is how the exhibit presents itself. Munich shows collections belonging to the companies Siemens, Münchner Rück, and Burda; and they all want to be seen on the occasion of the 850-year celebration of Isar-Athens. What’s missing in the above list is the curator: Udo Kittelmann. The designated managing director in Spree-Athens enjoyed rummaging around the collections of these companies and to uncover all that is possible. But the Haus der Kunst only offered the back left corridor, close to the broom closet, but at least there is a red carpet leading through the terrain. So Kittelmann curated the show. A blue dot can be found on John Baldessari’s photo work, as well as on the young Munich-based artist Lorenz Straßl’s light installation. A painting by Gursky and a collection of Warhol magazine covers of the German “Bunte" are jointly displayed. This is the manner in which the exhibit is set up and towards the end you will find a flying object by Panamarenko under the ceiling. On the wall: a panorama view of clouds. And in every section the curator enjoyed adding quotes by Karl Valentin, whom he explicitly gave the title of “co- curator”. Kittelmann was allowed to organize an exhibit, which neglects all prerequisites of modern quality with its brutality and compulsive “trying to be funny”-attitude. This exhibit has nothing to offer for those who come here for the sake of art. All those who took part at the opening and did not have to applaud or subjugate to the companies or any Bavarian sentiments, were simply embarrassed. But if you listened to the opening speeches and realized that Munich’s main cultural advisor misquoted Valentin, that the president of the Goethe-Institute misquoted Thomas Mann, and that Hubert Burda did the same with Wolfgang Ullrich, you will be aware of who the exhibit is aimed at. What should Kittelmann have done? Maybe decline. Haus der Kunst 80538 Munich, Prinzregentenstrasse 1, until 11.01.09 www.hausderkunst.de Startgalerie im Museum auf Abruf: Kosta Tonev – Constants are changing A name as a work of art Warhol or Beuys, just like other “stars” of the 20th Century, made it clear that art always has something to do with self-dramatization. The young Bulgarian artist Kosta Tonev, who lives in Vienna, deals with this phenomenon in his exhibit at the Startgalerie. His own name, and the misunderstanding that many people think he is Spanish, become a subject of discussion, thereby subtly showing how, in the art world, a name can function like a trademark. The individual works are not as convincing as the subtle allusion to his signature stroke “Costa”, which is prominently positioned on the white wall and reminds of Picasso’s signature. The first superstar of art is quoted as a label, and the fact that Picasso “also” is a Spaniard, perfects the intended allusion. In a short video you can watch the artist transforming the spelling of his first name “Kosta” into “Costa”. It is correct to write Kosta with a “K”, but apparently Austrians expect this name, which is pronounced very much like the Spanish word for “coast”, to be written with a “C”. Expectations are fulfilled and the name itself is transformed into a work of art. The name is no longer randomly chosen by others, but is subject to the artist's design concept. The exhibit succeeds in developing a lasting picture: that of a young man, who knows how to capture the attention of the audience - simply with his own person and his name. In an era of absolute sensory overload, this is the key to success Startgalerie im Museum auf Abruf 1010 Vienna, Felderstrasse 6 – 8, next to the town hall, until 03. 10. 2008 www.musa.at Kunstraum Innsbruck, Stadtgalerie Schwaz: Facing China The true face of dictatorship? Confronting China, dealing with China, looking China into the face, giving China a face? “Facing China,” allows for a variety of interpretations. The dual exhibit in Innsbruck and Schwaz is part of the tour of the Dutch collector Fu Ruide, which was shown in Iceland prior to Austria and will move on to Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Just in time for the Olympic-year, the show offers a closer look at the future world power. China is a synonym for economic strength, exploiting workers, communist dictatorship, censorship and perfect staging. At first the visitors to the Kunstraum Innsbruck are confronted with Christoph Fein’s portrait photos of nine artists. But just a few moments later it already becomes difficult to remember and pronounce the names of these artists, and to associate them with their works. Chen QingQing, the only female artist in the group, shows a vest made of metal wire, interwoven with her childhood portrait photos. Zhao Nengzhi depicts his contorted self with soft brush strokes. Fang Lijun travels through his phantasy world with a bald red head or positions his crumpled gold-plated head on metal poles. Yue Minjun presents himself as a stylized Chinese with a perverted mega smile. Admittedly, the non-stop smiling hostesses and the ever-smiling party heads can be frightening. Just don’t lose face! But that is exactly what Yang Shaobin does – in the style of Francis Bacon. His faces are robbed of their protective skin layer and characterized by brutality. An accusation against the regime? Like all artists, Shaobin works in Beijing – could he really be a critical artist? Maybe – because he, like all the other artists, focus on depicting individual faces without a direct reference to the regime or concentration on excessive allegories. Like the works of Liu Ye, who satirizes western art history to the absolute limit of Kitsch. Chinese angels flying with Madonna into the sky and rigid toy-sailors on a painting by Mondrian. At one time the European Avant-garde found abstract inspiration in China - this is what comes back now. In the remarkably well-hung exhibits in Innsbruck and Schwaz , visitors are offered an intimate introduction to contemporary Chinese art. The works are technically very well done and always include an unmistakable element of style. Like Zhang Xiaogang’s enlarged black and white family, which invariably include a small coloured “mistake”. This kind of work is greatly sought after by international and Chinese collectors. Typically Chinese, but at the same time modern, and not openly critical. With one exception: Wei Dong and his half naked political party girls from the days of the Cultural Revolution – prurient and disobedient. No wonder that Wei Dong lives in the USA. Kunstraum Innsbruck 6020 Innsbruck, Maria-Theresien Strasse 34, until 11. 10. 2008 www.kunstraum-innsbruck.at Stadtgalerie Schwaz 6130 Schwaz Palais Enzensberg, Franz-Josef-Strasse, until 11. 10. 2008 www.galeriestadtschwaz.at Galerie Hubert Winter: Mary Ellen Carroll – Semblable Two kinds of identities Mary Ellen Carroll’s fourth exhibit at the Gallery Winter includes numerous literary references and possesses the intensity of a thriller. But this is only the semblance, only part of the hide-and-seek game, which the New York based artist plays with the audience and with her identity as an (white) artist, living and working in a post-American world. Similar to a film director, Carroll arranges her phantom-like art work in a vast variety of her look-alikes and imitations. Like a film her work fulfils what is considered to be deficient or impossible in life. Her dominating neon works “ME LIKE BLACKS” and “BLACKS LIKE ME” are closely connected to the title of the show Semblable (the same, my look-alike), which originated from Baudelaire’s novel “Flowers of evil”. In addition to fictionalizing, uncovering and enveloping, Carroll also deals with the physicality of the term “original” by staging its dissolution and transfiguration as a distinct form of the “Theater of Death”. She presents the burning of her drawings on Long Nook Beach in a 16 mm film. A copy of the destroyed text as well as abstract drawings, created with the ash and charcoal of the destroyed works, are displayed next to each other. On the opening night, the artist dressed like a black musician and played the bass tuba. This performance, together with the pureness conveyed by the pallid surface of a small bust, in which she redefines herself in the role of a poet/artist/model, manifest her sensitivity for the utilization and exchangeable value in the social identity universe. Galerie Hubert Winter 1070 Vienna, Breite Gasse 17, until 11. 10. 2008 www.galeriewinter.at
Mehr Texte von translated and summarized by: Liz Wollner-Grandville

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