English summaries November 19 - December 2

Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz The Naked Man 16.10.2012 – 17.02.2013 Revelation instead of Indignation By Stephan Maier 340 works by more than 200 artists and artist groups, a mega show that spreads across the entire exhibition space, including the trendy accompanying event “Unskimmed Milk – The Beard as a Sign”, plus a large catalogue: one cannot directly claim that size would play no role if the Lentos Museum Linz casts a passing feminist glance upon the naked man. The show took on such an extensive dimension due to the ambitious aspiration of the three curators, as well as simply due to the fact that an overview of the unveiled forms of life and suffering of man already point to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the museum in 2013. Nothing in the “The Naked Man” aims at provocation, indignation or denuding. Instead, it’s a kind of en passant narration of the social-historical story of 20th and 21st century art, buzzword emancipation, and how it can be viewed in context with the diverse physical conditions of male nudity. Against the background of the fundamental Fin-de-Siècle mood in 1900, the dismissal of the male image from his mythological-religious exploitation, his interpreted utilization as a hero or saint, is more or less vividly and plausibly mediated. It was logical to cooperate with the Ludwig Museum in Budapest. Parallel to the base jump into the abysmal depths of male-human self-destruction and soul reading à la Schiele and Co., the split-up of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy took place: dissolution here and there. Although this resulted in a selection of works whose art historical importance can be doubted, at least from a western viewpoint, but it created a comprehensive Best-Of collection at the Lentos. At the same time the show managed to - despite an insufficiently restrained visual offer and the disputable division into 12 parts - point to the, in the past, tabooed eye contact, and immediately making it disappear: not only is the naked man invisible, as the catalogue states, hidden in diverse secret chambers, but that’s what happens to him in the course of the tour: as the bone of contention – he dissolves and disappears. Not like Ovid in the Metamorphoses, but all the same. Yet there are works that per se try to break the overly staunch link to the long-trodden gender problem: for example Anna Jermolaeva's video "ON / OFF". There is the – hardly serious - question of exactly who or what will be switched off when a light switch is manipulated when the male yobbo pushes himself into the picture. Because the game of the sexes had something of the slapstick about it right from the beginning, doesn’t it? Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz 4020 Linz, Ernst-Koref-Promenade 1 Tel: +43 70 7070 36 00 email: info@lentos.at www.lentos.at Opening hours: daily except Mon: 10.00 – 18.00 hours, Thu: 10.00 – 21.00 hours Architekturzentrum Wien Soviet Modernism 1955 – 1991 Unknown Stories 8.11.2012 – 25.02.2013 Regional Awakenings By Roland Schöny The building of the Ministry for Road Construction in Georgia’s capital Tiflis is one of the most fascinating icons of progressive Soviet architecture. Located at a hillside its individual elements resemble boxes placed loosely on top of one another. The light and experimental construction designed in 1974 by architect Giorgi Tshachawa is proof of the quality of numerous public buildings in the former non-Russian Soviet republics. Of course these kinds of sculptural concepts remain singular phenomena in the former USSR. Even to this day, the characteristics of progressive individual construction in the post-Stalinist era have hardly been dealt with. This fact alone accounts for the sensational character of the project “Soviet Modernism” in the Architekturzentrum Wien, which was realized after many years of research by Katharina Ritter, Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair and Alexandra Wachter in cooperation with the state A.W. Schtuschussev Museum for Architecture in Moscow and numerous project partners and institutions. The result is an exciting, colourful expedition through the Baltic Sea and across White Russia, Ukraine, and the Caucasus to Armenia and Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, or Turkmenistan in Central Asia. The exhibition presents the pluralism of architectures following Nikita Khrushchev’s liberalization process in the 1950s. Later, the decline of rigid order under Leonid Brezhnev allowed for an increase of aesthetic freedom. Independent architectural positions prevailed against the construction ideological Moscow-based centralism. The broadening of an international dialogue with Modernism also becomes obvious. The architecture of the dismissal halls in Kiev by Milezkyi, Melnytchenko and Rybatchuk remind of Jorn Utzon’s opera house in Sydney. The main thesis of the exhibition documents the successive integration of local idioms; such as residential buildings and other communal institutions including kindergartens or social centres in Dushanbe in Tajikistan. It became generally apparent that individuality was possible beyond residential buildings, beyond everyday life. In this connection, event halls, theatres and circus buildings are of conceptual interest. Stereotyped ideas of technocratic functionalism are successfully broken apart. This, in part, also affects urban planning. It is remarkable how levelling the exhibition itself appears, to a large part through wall charts. In some phases the show has similarities to an index box translated into space. Possibly an effect that resulted from the limited amount of space in the AzW. In order to get used to the diversity of Soviet architecture this demands a certain amount of imagination from its audience, but the catalogue is outstanding. It offers access to universes and stories, includes personal narrations and descriptions of habits – all with inwrought historical material and supplemented by an archive and index. With this successful intersection of partly historical photo material and diverse narrations and analyses, this book sets a new standard in accounting for the past of architecture as part of cultural history under the paradigm of Soviet dictatorship. It puts the solemn photographs by Frédéric Chaubin into perspective. His almost text-free work “CCCP – Cosmit Communist Constructions Photographed”, which was published last year, merely transforms several of the buildings also shown at this exhibition into an unreal futuristic monumentality. In contrast, Soviet Modernism is set up like an explorative travel journal and tries to include the social dimension and the level of design practice. The comprehensive historical work of the political conditions in the Soviet Union could have been more detailed; they only fill three catalogue pages. Architekturzentrum Wien 1070 Vienna, Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1 Tel: +43 1 522 31 15 Fax: +43 1 522 31 17 email: office@azw.at www.azw.at Opening hours: daily from 10.00 to 19.00 hours Kunsthalle Wien XTRAVANGANZA Staging Leigh Bowery 19.10.2012 – 03.02.2013 Glamorous, more glamorous, Bowery By Nina Schedlmayer This creature with light bulbs hanging on a leather belt like extra-terrestrial earmuffs from its head is truly polite: “It was my pleasure”, it said to a BBC reporter thanking him for an interview. Prior to this, the wandering Gesamtkunstwerk declared: “I make myself.” The flamboyant disguises of Leigh Bowery, who died aged 33 of HIV, give evidence of his exuberant ingenuity, his devotion, interest in detail, courage and last but not least: his diligence. The Australian hung out at clubs in a kind of monk’s cowl appearing as a sequined dress that accentuated his belly and had an integrated mask. He strapped tulle around his head, balanced on almost meter-high plateau shoes and used so much make-up that his face was almost completely hidden behind a layer of colour. Glamour is an auxiliary word, Westwood and McQueen are nothing compared to Bowery and his effusive aesthetics. The slightly overweight performer and stage designer Bowery expended lots of productive nonsense: he stripped off his chequered clothes in a blue box, together with two others, intoning the falsetto Aerosmith classic “Walk this way”. Or he swaggered through the streets of New York in a rather undecided outfit – trousers on one side, skirt on the other – and writhed elegantly, quite like a worldly woman, in piles of hazardous waste. But it ‘s not exclusively fun here. The whole-body costumes, in which Bowery dressed for Fergus Greer’s photos, appear more like an oppressive enclosure, and those pictures in which he is awkwardly wedged into another figure, appear constrained. The two objects playing with Nazi images must be neglected. It’s better to direct ones attention to the cylinder floating from the ceiling with numerous Bowery references attached. Or to the costumes that appear to be dancing on a chessboard. Kunsthalle Wien 1070 Vienna, Museumsplatz 1 Tel: +43(0)/ 1/ 521 89-0 Fax: +43(0)/ 1/ 521 89-0 www.kunsthallewien.at Opening hours: daily from 10.00 – 19.00 hours Galerie Steinek Matthias Hermann – 270 West 17th Street 20c NY NY 10011 14.11.2012 – 20.12.2012 Memorial during lifetime By Nina Schedlmayer It seems odd, someone said the other day, that we always admire early 21st century toddlers for their technological competence. After all, they grew up with an iPad and an iPhone, no wonder that 3 year-olds swipe across the TV instead of searching for a button. A telephone with a rotary dial is exotic in the eyes of a child born 2010. The same goes for cameras. Dark room? Films? Developer? Colour filters? One day all of this will be completely unknown to our children. Analogue photography is increasingly replaced by digital photography – large companies were forced to close down or give up parts of their business. In his recent still lifes, Matthias Hermann created a memorial to honour this disappearing technology: similar to classical product photography he stages analogue photographic tools. Positioned on a light-table they seem withdrawn from reality, as if they were in another world. Polaroid paper, photo boxes, instructions for a second-hand camera, and lenses turn into sculptural functionless objects. The colour filters balancing for a few seconds on the surface without any support are remarkably beautiful and evocative. As portentous these icons may appear, as casual are the photographs that Hermann made during his stay in New York in the last months: golden ballerina shoes, cheap perfume bottles in a shop window, busts in a museum, a yellow sea of school busses – or, in larger formats: a house with nailed-up windows, a pond with gold fish. Despite their superficial banality these works are characterized by a certain melancholy, and they also appear to want to hold on to a drowning world. Galerie Steinek 1010 Vienna, Eschenbachgasse 4 Tel: +431/512 87 59 Fax: +431/512 87 59 email: galerie@steinek.at galerie.steinek.at Opening hours: Tue – Fri: 13:00 - 18:00 hours; Sat: 11:00 - 15:00 hours

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