English summaries November 5 - 18

mumok Museum moderner Kunst - Dan Flavin – Lights 13.10.2012 – 03.02.2013 Pathos of the tubes By Roland Schöny Why visit a Dan Flavin exhibition? Don’t his works have the effect of stereotype repetitions of the same topic? Not necessarily. The light tubes used in Flavin’s works develop very diverse effects in different surroundings. In contrast to the clean museum atmosphere, with its tendency to increase mystification, in galleries they appear as sober citations in an urban context. Maybe some of you remember the outstanding presentation in 1991 in the Galerie nächst St. Stephan. Flavin did not only relate to the outside space. He also created works for the outside; such as site-specific light installations for the Science Park Gelsenkirchen or the Museum Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. That Flavin’s oeuvres aren’t really all that well known argues well in favour of an exhibition. And that, in turn, has to be compiled so that the individual works have enough space and clearance from each other. The mumok is well able to comply with these requirements. Consequently, the minimalists are thus presented extensively. However, because of this, the intrinsic contradictions in Flavin’s work are underlined. It seems legitimate to provide four floors with a total of 2400 m2 of exhibition space to present such a significant position of Modernism. But through this an enormous pathos develops which is even increased by the reflections of the light on the floor. Thereby, Flavin’s initial principle of reduction suddenly changes into a manifestation of the sublime. A remarkable effect! This could also be derived as a topic from the artist’s biography (1933 – 1996, New York). If nothing else, Flavin’s religious attitude is expressed by the fact that he took part in a priest seminar in the early 1950s. The approximately 30 light works are really impressive: the small picture-like works as well as the later serials and in particular the “monuments” for V. Tatlin based on white light. To refer to Tatlin as representative of the Russian avant-garde seems plausible, but the numerous dedications to collectors and Dan Flavin’s acquaintances appears somewhat sentimental and pedantic. But that was the way it was. Likewise Flavin, who confronts the aesthetic aspects of the technical improvements aggressively, and the majority of his works appear to have developed from the classical medium of drawings and architectural drafts. This aspect brings the exhibition in a cabinet-like side area but is treated far too little. That one could have got more out of everything becomes obvious when reading the catalogue material. This brings another question up – not if one should visit a Dan Flavin exhibition, but how large the information value of such a retrospective is. Museums also have the task to offer information and thereby broaden the cultural competence of its audience. And a further question is the relevance of such an exhibition. Flavin doubtlessly has his justification in post-war Modernism. However, only if one sees this in connection with the paradigm of the Cold War and bases it on the fact that the determining coordinates of art history are based upon the axis of the western powers Berlin, Düsseldorf, Paris, New York and Los Angeles. If one does not evaluate the ideological requirement for an exhibition too strongly, another issue arises: why devote nearly 4 months to a Flavin exhibition in the mumok? In two months at the latest, the value of the information would be amply fulfilled. mumok Museum moderner Kunst 1070 Vienna, MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1 Tel: +43 1 52 500 Fax: + 41 1 52 500 13 00 Email: info@mumok.at www.mumok.at Opening hours: daily: 10.00 – 18.00 hours, Thu: 10.00 – 21.00 hours Galerie Lindner Ludwig Glaeser – Mies and his archivist 08.11.2012 – 07.12.2012 Archive of heroic sovereignty By Margareta Sandhofer The exhibition at the Gallery Lindner, which is part of the eyes on series, is dedicated to Mies van der Rohe, respectively his photographic archivist, Ludwig Glaeser. Architectural photography leaves it open whether the focus is on the architectural work or on the photograph. Upon entering one is confronted with a portrait of Ludwig Glaeser holding a camera and across from him five shots of the New York skyline. This small staging in the gallery’s foyer can also be seen as an introduction or prelude for the actual exhibition in the two main rooms, in which the photographs focus on buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe. Glaeser’s shots of the Federal Center Chicago (1959 – 64) underline the radicalism of Mies van der Rohe’s work. Glaeser focuses on the rationality and functionality with which Mies confronts the historical surroundings. Nature, small blooming trees, appear like props that highlight the stringent system of Mies van der Rohe’s architecture. Botany seems to have a similar function as the people in the photographs of Farnsworth House (1951). The pictures present no aspect of human spatial experience inside the country house. The house itself is presented like an alien that landed in the middle of nowhere, totally devoid of any context, which could depart any second. No entry or exit is visible. The images of the Lake Shore Drive Apartment in Chicago (1949-51) taken from a helicopter are symptomatic, shot from an artificial angle, unreal. The architecture’s shadow is imposed on the natural frame of the water’s surface. Glaeser’s compositions are skilfully calculated, withdrawn from reality, reduced, and aestheticized in the selected perspectives and the black-and-white prints. The buildings are only apparently factually displayed, but in reality set into the scene actually having undergone a heroization. At the same time, Glaeser presents Mies van der Rohe’s buildings as a complex of blatant naturalness, as architecture of incomparable sovereignty. Galerie Lindner 1060 Vienna, Schmalzhofgasse 13/3 Tel: +43 1 913 44 58 Fax: +43 1 913 44 56 email: galerie.lindner@chello.at www.galerie-lindner.at Opening hours: Tue - Fri 14.00 - 18.00 hours Kunsthaus Wien Photo Booth Art – The aesthetics behind the curtain: from the Surrealists to Warhol and Rainer 10.10.2012 – 13.01.2013 Snapshots in strips By Roland Schöny It's as it often is. One gets irritated by the kitschy entrance situation with its rough floor, which, according to Friedensreich Hundertwasser's earnest proclamation, shall contribute to the "retrieval of human dignity". But then a carefully presented and interesting exhibition awaits one on the second floor. Core theme: contemporary photography. And it's the same this time. With aesthetic concepts around the photo booths. The subtitle with the indication " .... to Warhol and Rainer" is, however, misleading because the historic curve does not end with these classics by any means, but leads into the present. The famous photos by Arnulf Rainer with grimacing portraits taken in photo booths stem from the year 1969. Andy Warhol, on the other hand, had already discovered the photo booth as a portrait studio in 1963. Much later – in 1972 in Leipzig – Jan Wenzel was only just born. His work is so remarkable because Wenzel made the photo booth to his central medium. He uses the given format to design assembled conceptual shots or even spatial photos; by no means all “behind the curtain”. Their fixed focus as well as the framing characterizes his works. A change of perspective is brought about through the small movie room with samples of clippings from Jean-Luc Godard’s “Masculin feminine” (1966) or Wim Wenders’ “Alice in the cities” (1974). Long sequences from “The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2001) are also shown – in which the main character meets a collector of photo booth passport photos. Another main theme revolves around identity and self-staging – this plainly being the main motif for Cindy Sherman to work with an automated photo machine. “Untitled” (Lucille Ball” (1975) leads to the picture series “Untitled Film Stills”. The automated photos are characterized by a soft focus and help imitate the aesthetics that are well known in pictures of stars and starlets since the1930s. The beginnings of automated photos go back much further. In 1928 the first “Photomatons” were installed in Paris. How quickly the surrealists discovered their potential as photo machines becomes obvious in the last edition of the magazine “La Révolution Surréaliste” in December 1929, in which 16 automated self-portraits by protagonists of the movement including André Breton, Luis Buñuel, Max Ernst or Salvador Dalí, are all published as a photomontage. The informative texts in the rooms highlight, above all, the historic and stylistic aspects. Due to the fact that the exhibition is a project by the Musée d’Élysée Lausanne, the Kunsthaus permitted itself the luxury of not producing its own catalogue. But there is no explanation as to why no form of a theoretical mediation in German exists at all. From the production of a pocket guide to the printing of an exhibition journal, a plethora of possibilities would have been presented if at least one single theoretical contribution had been offered. The show, rich in individual topics, whose diversity goes far beyond the idea of stereotype strip pictures, should have earned endorsement through the generally common standard of an adequate publication. Kunsthaus Wien 1030 Vienna, Untere Weißgerberstraße 13 Tel: +43 1 712 04 95 0 Fax: +43 1 712 04 94 email: office@kunsthauswien.com www.kunsthauswien.com Opening hours: daily: 10.00 – 19.00 hours MUSA distURBANces 30.10.2012 – 05.01.2013 Analogue, digital, as if it matters By Nina Schedlmayer Perhaps one could start with Hieronymus Bosch, or perhaps much later – or much earlier – e.g. with the architectural paintings in Pompeii: at least the haziness between fiction and reality is something mankind has dealt with for many a long year. The exhibition “distURBANces” at the MUSA questions if “fiction can surpass rationality.” Curated in co-operation with the partner cities of the Month of Photography, the exhibition deals, more or less, with everything that revolves around the themes of artificial worlds, cyberspace and their relationship to analogue reality. Artificiality is thus widely conceived and doesn’t exist solely in digital: one can slip into a rose-tinted model of a solitary residential district with the charm of the hobby bricolage by Daniel Leidenfrost, (and let yourself be enveloped in soft mist at the touch of a button), an old film by Josh Müller is based on an analogue airport-model. And the video by Leopold Kessler – in which one can watch him dumping bulk trash in a skater-pit, insinuating the Broken-Windows-Theory, cyberspace is left out. Even if the title suggests that everything shown is seen in context with urban space, this does not apply to all the works presented here: Reiner Riedler’s colourful, almost hyper-realistic shots lead us into the worlds of entertainment and leisure time, Robert Hammerstiel’s photomontages play with South Sea elements and Ilkka Halso pulls endless architectural structures over endless foggy landscapes. Among the most exciting works are those by Dionisio Gonzáleu (he amalgamates hypermodern architecture with gloomy favelas) and by the Collectif_Fact: in their video, a group of artists invites the onlooker to a city tour by car and removes everything from sight except logos, neon signs, streetlights, signs and road markings – huge advertisement messages take up most of the space. The exhibition introduces some exciting positions that were unknown in Vienna until now, e.g. Niklas Goldbach or Peter Bialobrzeski. However, the exhibition appears too much like a compromise. What is missing is a well thought through concept that could reclaim new facets from the leading question. MUSA 1010 Vienna, Felderstrasse 6-8, next to the Rathaus Tel: +43 1 4000 8400 Fax: + 43 1 4000 99 8400 email: musa@musa.at www.musa.at Opening hours: Tue – Fri: 11.00 – 18.00 hours, Thu: 11.00 – 20.00 hours, Sat 11.00 – 16.00 hours

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