English summary March 9 - 15

Museum der Moderne Salzburg Mönchsberg: Georg Baselitz - Paintings and Sculptures 1960 - 2008 Upside down, you’re turning me Recently declared dead, painting seems to again boom on the freely floating funfair of art, kitsch, and junk. A good example is Georg Baselitz, for whom the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg devoted the first retrospective in Austria since 1992. With his „upside down“ stratagem, which made him famous in the 60s, Baselitz, who was born 1938 as Hans-Georg Kern in the former GDR, has been following a blatant strategy (referred to as „methods“ by the artist). He founds the most indecorous as his personal branding. The Salzburg-retrospective includes 54 paintings and five wooden sculptures. At first his works present themselves as a colorful climate of the smelly and musty German post-war reality, with occasional excursions to art and its history. With Fragonard-like „Rapidité“, shreds of his own early and scandal history surface from the basics of painting – the white canvas – to once again withdraw themselves with a new turn. Painting as a gesture. And concept. Vice versa. by Stephan Maier Museum der Moderne Salzburg Mönchsberg 5020 Salzburg, Möchnsberg 22, until 21.06.09 www.museumdermoderne.at Jewish Museum Frankfurt: Superman and Golem. Jewish Memory in Comic Strip Art Shalom Superman Golem – of course, but Superman - a Jew? And Batman as well? They are the brainchildren of the Jewish cartoonists Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel; maybe that could make them Jewish. Something that is questioned by the exhibit “Superman and Golem” is the question if comics can serve as a kind of “medium of Jewish memory”. Soon after Jewish comic strip artists immigrated to the USA during the first decades of the 20th century, they detached themselves from the usual topics, which mainly concentrated on the difficulties faced by immigrant. During the 30s, a number of the super heroes were “born” in comic strip studios. The exhibition catalogue, designed like a comic, offers different interpretations regarding the connection of these comics to Judaism; e.g. Batman’s, as well as other super heroes’ secret double identity is placed in connection to Jewish mimicry. Only rarely does Superman directly express his non-Aryan views as in “What if Superman ended the war… “ in 1940. Holocaust topics only found their way into the comic strip world during the last 25 years of the 20th century. The most renowned example is Art Spiegelman’s “Maus” (mouse). His comic strip won the Pulitzer Prize Special Award in 1992. But comic strip artists also addressed topics regarding Jewish history beyond the Holocaust: in James Sturm’s “Golem’s mighty swing” the humongous and mighty mythological redeemer supports a baseball team. Comics designed by Jews are not solely a US phenomenon. Frenchman Joann Sfar’s “The rabbi’s cat” describes the life of Sephardic Jews in North Africa and the Israeli Uri Fink created the super hero Sabraman (Sabra = a native-born Israeli Jew). The Jewish Museum successfully offers an adequate environment for the comic strip exhibit. The Palais Rothschild Baroque wall decorations disappear behind the huge number of comic strips presented as originals as well as newspaper and magazine clippings. The exhibit introduces 42 artists from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. Film interviews with the artists supplement the show. Résumé: a must for fans of not only Jewish comics. by Lotus Brinkman Jüdisches Museum 60311 Frankfurt, Untermainkai 14/15, until 22. 03.09 www.juedischesmuseum.de Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary T-B A21: A Question of Evidence Art as a means of evidence Can art unfold political brisance? Can it be used as a medium for change of, or resistance to, repressive regimes? Which form of art can achieve these goals? And in which context can art – be it as a protest, rebellion, or information - really be effective? Rarely has an exhibition so emphatically succeeded in raising these kinds of questions. The works shown in “A Question of Evidence” refer to the realities in south and central Asian countries. Anwar Kanwar’s contribution devotes itself to the Burmese resistance movement. Starting point of his video installation “The Torn First Pages” is the story of Ko Than Htay, a bookseller, who was imprisoned because he tore the cover sheets out of the books before he sold them. The sheets included propaganda slogans by the Burmese military regime. Kanwar transforms this event aesthetically by projecting the elliptically structured film material on transparent paper. The poetry and metaphors support the bewilderment caused by the pictures, which narrate stories about the victims and offer an insight into the state events and doctrines. The other contributions, similar to Kanwar’s work, are documents calling upon the establishment of truth. That the artistic strategies can often only be just as encoded and self censored is not only evident in the picture-text-tales by Raqs Media Collective from India. Hong Kong born Pak Sheung Chuen filters messages which were hidden in a receipt. The photo collages by Heman Chong, who lives in Singapore, remind of political prisoners and, by eliminating what is shown, simultaneously erases any memory of them. Extremely impressive: Khin Khin Su allows his audience to peek through a small opening in the wall, where it will find a message conveying how much fear is connected with the effort to achieve artistic freedom and freedom of opinion under a dictatorship. Against the background of the continuous discussions in Austria on freedom, possibilities, and responsibility of art, this exhibition clearly shows that far more existentialist questions are raised elsewhere. by Manisha Jothady Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary T-B A21 1010 Vienna, Himmelpfortgasse 13/9, until 05.04.09 www.tba21.org Galerie Edition Stalzer: Zoran Mirkovic – Instruments create the world Theoretical, playful, humorous The work shown at this exhibit mainly consists of pink wood frame installations that nearly take up the entire gallery space. They include the strangest instruments and appliances - obviously all created by the artist himself with the purpose to be used by the audience. One of the appliances, for example, predicts the future by discharging letters, which are then left to interpret. Everything presented here relates to the artist’s well-thought out theory construction, but he does not really want it to be taken seriously, and therefore all fits beautifully into the playful gesture of his work. Some of the objects are musical instruments and could also be viewed as unconventional sculptures. The art shown here is not primarily, and definitely not exclusively, positioned in the area of art, but mainly in the artist’s world. And the artist does not take himself too seriously - but this enhances, rather than harms, the effect of his work. by Wolfgang Pichler Galerie Edition Stalzer 1060 Vienna, Barnabitengasse 6, until 27.03.09 www.stalzer-gallery.com

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