151109: Kunsthalle Wien: 1989. End of history or beginning of the future? Comments on a paradigm shift

Kunsthalle Wien: 1989. End of history or beginning of the future? Comments on a paradigm shift Broken and repaired with scars The 1980’s began and ended with flights, insurgencies, and executions. The iron curtain rises and the return of repressed memories is once again clearly recognizable. The term “iron curtain” originated in the theatre world and symbolised the dividing wall between the audience and the stage -as protection in case of fire. Politics took the term into its repertoire and gave it a negative connotation. Not only did the most diverse political systems break up, the Eastern countries deprived their citizens of all economic possibilities. The year 1989 was the year of the turnaround, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, followed by the eastward extension of the EU 15 years later, and quite a few changes among the hierarchies of Central European national states. Oliver Rathkolb, the curator responsible for the historical part of the exhibition “1989. End of History or Beginning of the Future?” highlights the fact that “this is the only year in the 20th century” in which political decision makers “lost control”. Historians oftentimes have a tendency towards abstraction. Individual destinies are oftentimes lost. The exhibition presents “counter-history”, an “outline of cultural memory”, as Rathkolb points out. Codes and figures, faces, landscapes, and bodies of former Eastern Block countries are handled by contemporary artists in both an ironic as well as a tragic way. The statement that the turnaround came suddenly and as a surprise for many is the key element of the historic and artistic parts of the show. Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s installation “The Big Archive” is one of the highlights of the exhibition and takes up 160 square meters. It is a claustrophobic memorial of the over-administrated planned economy, and impressively presents not only the meaninglessness of Eastern bureaucracy. Surveillance devices as well as the irony and tragedy of everyday life are wonderfully presented in film and photographic form under the term “case history” by Boris Mikhailov, Marek Piwowski and Jane and Louise Wilson. With his video “Nobody is still there where he started”, Marcel Odenbach draws attention to the downfall of the Berlin Wall. Anna Jermolaewa attempts to record her own life’s journey on video, but, similar to some of her other works, she gets entangled in an infinite loop. The sudden breakup of history and the functionalization of man in his transformation from a uniform communistic to a pluralistic-capitalistic paradigm is the main theme of the exhibition. The topic would have been worthy of its own museum. By Alexander Lass Kunsthalle Wien 1070 Vienna, Museumsplatz 1, until 07.02.10 http://www.kunsthallewien.at

Kunsthalle Wien Museumsquartier
1070 Wien, Museumsplatz 1
Tel: +43 1 521 89-0
Email: office@kunsthallewien.at
Öffnungszeiten: Di-So 10-19, Do 11-21 h

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