English summaries August 28 - September 9

Arbeiterkammer Wien Michael Schmidt – Berlin after 45 24.05.2012 – 30.10 2012 The wounded city By Manisha Jothady He was once described as the “most famous unknown of German photography”: Michael Schmidt, to whom the New York MoMA already devoted a solo exhibit in 1996, was mainly known to the German speaking photo-art community. Only after the wide range of his works (which includes portraits, cityscapes, landscapes and still lifes) was presented at the retrospective in 2010 in the Haus der Kunst in Munich, did his popularity rise. With “Berlin after 45” he unfolds his entire spectrum of shades of grey; whereby it is difficult to concentrate on just this quality: the deserted downtown districts, parking lots, faceless streets and buildings are extremely dreary. But which Berlin is the “Berlin after 45”? The accompanying text points to the year 1980. He depicts a city in which the Second World War is ubiquitous - even 35 years after it ended. And he presents a divided city as we can only remember it on account of these kinds of photographic documents. Schmidt designed his Berlin-portrait for the Arbeiterkammer in Vienna as wallpaper, image after image, only gateways and windows cutting through the individual views. But one must question why these gloomy pictures were chosen for a venue that is frequented by people who are often in precarious situations. It’s a good thing that art doesn’t have to carry out a mission. Arbeiterkammer Vienna 1040 Vienna, Prinz Eugenstrasse 20 – 22 Museum der Moderne Salzburg Mönchsberg John Cage and … Visual artist, influences, impulses 15.07.2012 – 07.10.2012 Much Ado and the Nothingness By Stephan Maier 1952 was a relatively important year for Nothingness. Samuel Beckett, the poet of silence, published “Waiting for Godot”, Robert Rauschenberg began his “White Paintings” and Guy Debord produced his anti-extravaganza film “Hurlements en faveur de Sade”. On the other hand, John Cage’s “4’33” initiated a new chapter in music history: music, from now on, could be limited to the conventions of a concert; the audience produced its own “sound cloud” with murmuring, coughing and moving chairs, while the “interpreter” remained silent. If the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg devotes an extensive exhibition marking the 100th birthday of the high priest of silence during the noisy Salzburg Festival, then that is a statement in itself. The show documents not only John Cage’s impact on art but also the influence of European Modernism on John Cage – e.g. through Klee, Kandinsky and Co.. His impact on the Fluxus movement and his professional and personal collaboration with dance-guru Merce Cunningham are also excessively documented in Salzburg. All of this is enlightening. But it is also evident that the work of the visual artist can in no way keep pace with the revolutionary and avant-Garde spirit of his “compositions”. Museum der Moderne Salzburg Mönchsberg 5020 Salzburg, Mönchsberg 32 Tel:+43 662 84 22 20 – 403 Fax: +43 662 84 22 20 – 700 Email: info@mdmsalzburg.at www.museumdermoderne.at Opening hours: Tue to Sun 10.00 – 18.00 hours Kunsthaus Wien Elliott Erwitt. Retrospective 14.06.2012 – 30.09.2012 Enigmatic-mischievous in black and white By Manisha Jothady He photographed Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly and caught the distraught look on the face of his wife at John F. Kennedy's funeral. He was there when Nixon and Khrushchev met each other during the Cold War at a US industrial fair in Moscow. And pressed the button when the irascible American stabbed at the dismal Russian's chest with a warning finger. Elliott Erwitt created snapshots in time of other politicians such as Fidel Castro. As was once mentioned in an article in Stern, he, like every other photographer, also hunts for the split second. But what sets him apart from his colleagues is the ability to anticipate what the object of his photographic interest is going to do next. That his camera catches many humourous moments (also in serious situations) can be seen in approximately 150 works now being shown in comprehensive retrospective in Vienna's Kunsthaus. But humour was not his intention, say Elliott, who would like to be thought of as the "Woody Allen of photography". If one takes the interviews with him a little bit to heart, it quickly becomes clear that the man who says of himself that he "carried the camera around as a child carries its cuddly toy", only coquets. Elliot appears to be humourous through and through. Amusing shots of dogs and their owners appear here as a logical consequence. The many well-known portraits of our four-legged friends and their owners are only a small part of that which designates Elliott as a renowned representative of the Magnum Guild, who observes his surroundings in an ironic but affectionate manner, whether they be naked or clothed, in the museum, in the underground station, on the street or at home. His sensitive eye for the poetic and socio-critic is also just as evident as that for the everyday comical. For example, the romantically portrayed photograph of the lovers whose faces are only to be seen in the rear mirror of their car, whilst the eye falls on the view of the open sea in the background. In contrast, the shot of the young boy who, grinning, holds a toy pistol to his head, leaves room for reflection. It's in pictures such as these that the joke turns sour. Kunsthaus Wien 1030 Vienna, Untere Weißgerberstr. 13 Tel: +43 1 712 04 95 Fax: +43 1 712 04 96 Email: office@kunthauswien.at www.kunsthauswien.at Opening hours: daily between 10.00 and 19.00 hours Startgalerie im MUSA Alija Piry – Andante 07.09. 2012 – 06.10.2012 Why pictures don't talk By Wolfgang Pichler This exhibition is just the right one for all those who have always wanted to have a talking picture that tells them what to think and feel when observing it. A small-format, white screen, which, thanks to projected speech bubbles, talks to the observer. Ironic, but not laughable, the usual situation is reversed: not the observer comments on the picture, but the picture comments - that’s to say, the person actually standing in front of the picture is not cited but rather the usual phrases and commentaries that are uttered on such occasions. The fact that these don't actually say anything about the object hanging on the wall in front of the observer becomes apparent through disengagement from the usual context and shows gently but relentlessly about what such "talks" are actually about - the people standing in front of the work. That the exhibition's many small pictures are all entirely abstract, but yet evoke strong associations, fits the bill. Happily, these don't exactly speak but leave the space needed to enjoy the art. One is reminded of Monet's Lillies or Cezanne's Mont Sante Victoire, even though there is nothing impressionistic about the pictures. But the barely A-4 format screens appear to draw the artistically tailored details from these paintings. In contrast, a cluster of papers on the wall splattered with coloured inks appears like a collection of playful, amoebae-like animals from a children's film; yet they contribute an elegant lightness, and one is really thankful for the consideration that one is not pushed into a corner by annoying commentaries regarding the meaning of these works. Sometimes there's a reason why pictures don't talk. Startgalerie im MUSA 1010 Vienna, Felderstrasse 6-8, next to the Town Hall Tel: +43 (0) 1 4000 8400 Email: musa@musa.at www.musa.at/startgalerie Opening hours: Tue, Wed, Fri: 11.00 – 18.00 hours, Thu: 11.00 to 20.00 hours, Sat: 11.00 – 16.00 hours

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