160112: Künstlerhaus Wien Contemporary Witnesses – Photography in Austria since 1945

Künstlerhaus Wien Contemporary Witnesses – Photography in Austria since 1945 15.12.11 to 29.01.12 Obscure Second Republic The Viennese culture scene, Leopold Figl on the balcony of the Belvedere, Ostbahn-Kurti at a concert, Gsellmann's world machine, young prostitutes in the Stuwer Quarter, a rubbernecker in a brothel, the Beatles making a film, the actionists, the painter Attersee and so on, and so on: the exhibition in the Künstlerhaus ("Contemporary Witnesses - Photography in Austria since 1945"), organized and designed by the Society for Photography, encompasses an enormously wide spectrum of political and social realities in the Second Republic. But one didn’t let it rest there: one doesn't just include documentaries but also all the other available genres of photography as well. For the catalogue, there was the amusing idea of quite simply putting the photos in strict order of their year of origin – amongst them photos by Inge Morath, Ernst Haas, Erich Lessing or Barbara Pflaum, as well as by fine arts academicians (Christa Biedermann, Valie Export, Arnulf Rainer, Franz West, Erwin Wurm), fashion photographers (Elfie Semotan) or press photographers whose names were not so well known outside their field (Helmut Fohringer, Hans Klaus Techt, Heinz Stephan Tesarek). By contrast, the exhibition, which was advertised as "fully unconventionally conceptualized”, pursues absolutely no order – and that's not exactly an advantage. Admittedly, the different heights at which the pictures are hung have proven to be a great success; but it remains completely obscure as to under which criteria the show has generally been compiled. Certainly some discoveries are worth it, such as Jork Weismann's sleeping Patti Smith, Lukas Beck's skipping boys' choir, Alfred Seiland's pale washing in winter scenery. Likewise, some combinations focus on exciting structured parallels (such as a plant by Elfriede Mejchar next to a diver by Lothar Rübelt, whose inglorious role in National Socialism has been faded out in the catalogue) and can't pick up the general randomness of the picture hangings. Perhaps the organizers should have sought professional curator support. By Nina Schedlmayer Künstlerhaus Wien 1010 Vienna, Karlsplatz 5 Tel: 01/587 96 63 http://www.k-haus.at Opening times: daily from 10-18 hours

Künstlerhaus Wien
1010 Wien, Karlsplatz 5
Tel: +43 1 587 96 63
Email: office@k-haus.at
Öffnungszeiten: täglich 10-18 h, Mi + Fr 10-22 h

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