170613: The 55th Venice Biennale – Austrian Pavilion: Mathias Poledna

The Venice Biennale The 55th Venice Biennale – Austrian Pavilion: Mathias Poledna 01.06.2013 – 24.11 2013 Following Hollywood's entertainment industry By Roland Schöny That Mathias Poledna would continue his critical treatment of specific moments of the modern has been on the cards for a long time. After all, in this context music, film and design belong to his central themes. Nevertheless, it is surprising how empty both side tracts of the Austrian pavilion in the Giardini are; with surprising, small-form, very unspectacular pale drawings whose meaning, due to their evanescence, is not easily exposed. Nevertheless, following all the secrecy beforehand, direct references to the architecture of the building by Josef Hoffmann would have been possible. But one then finds one’s way into a sort of cinema room in the back area: Attention - danger of tripping! Not even emergency lighting has been installed here. And the opportunity to sit down, even on the otherwise present picture gallery benches, has been foregone. With an almost classically-seeming animated cartoon film in the screening room which has been left very plain, Poledna wants to evoke and eventually analyse the Hollywood that has been begotten as amusement for the whole family; naturally without adding any distance to the spell of the entertainment. The power of the light, the play of the colours, the dynamic of the waters and the nature accompanied by the congruent-playing orchestra in 35mm film strips, all that leads in an instant to the enticing atmosphere which the American animated film built up for the public mass in its peak time in the late 1930's and early 1940's. However, the scenario on the projection screen in Venice is a film made by Mathias Poledna himself with enormous effort. The 3-minute work could remind of an excerpt from the "Jungle Book", but is elaborated more exactly and in finer detail. In the time that is being alluded to, masterpieces of animated films such as, for example, "Fantasia" (1940) came to the movie theatres. One could describe Poledna's undertakings as reanimation of historical narratives on the fine line between critical access and persuasion through fascination. And the question arises whether the artist hasn't made inroads into an area where his own methods - leaning towards perfection, and with which he wants to unveil paradigms of the culture industry – take on similar rules of play like the friendly monster Hollywood itself. Involuntarily the borders between the critical practice of Mathias Poledna and the almost unbroken reawakened historical animated motion picture that he relates to, become blurred. So we've arrived in the construction of one of those wonderfully coloured portions of opium for the masses, which wants to divert us as "entertainment" for a few moments from all the odds following the world economic crisis, to the time of the Second World War and the expulsion and deportation by the National Socialists in Europe. The graphic animation unites all possible elements from vaudeville, musical and silent film comedies. One is reminded of Hanns Eisler's fight "against ignorance in music" as the animal protagonist at the centre – a nice, friendly, crazy donkey, enraptured by something not quite easily understood – intoned the musical song ''I´ve Got a Feelin´ You’re Foolin´'' by Arthur Feed and Nacio Herb Brown. A feeling is set in motion similar to hearing a not too bad but rather sentimental hit that captures one spontaneously. One allows oneself to tap to the beat although one is aware that the machine is running in the completely wrong direction That Poledna, particularly after his exhibition in the Vienna Secession with the film ''A Village by the Sea'' (2011), again took up the elements of the Hollywood film at the time of the economic crisis as well as drawings from the Brit pop or the French auteur movie, and now makes inroads directly into the heart of the culture industry criticized by Adorno and Horkheimer, seems logical – whether he chose the correct methods in order to keep his critical standpoint sovereign is, however, questionable. It rather seems as if he himself fell into the trap of an overpowering production machinery. The balance between effort and critic has clearly gone off the rails. Therefore, the numerous connections in his film work "Imitation of Life" conclude only through the comprehensive and meticulously prepared catalogue where Esther Leslie carves out in an historic and theoretical film analysis which great theme the animated motion picture had at the film festival of the Biennale in Venice in Mussolini's Italy in 1938. At that time, the first motion picture from the Disney studios, ''Snow White'' was playing in Venice. The meticulously, exactly prepared drawings which are necessary for the animation of water in motion, for example, form the theme of the exhibited drawings in the Austrian pavilion. They, too, thematise the uneven weighting between effort and effect, between manpower and predication. How genially Mathias Poledna has really chosen the medium, in order to make fun of the medium of the culture industry in its socio-economic connection will only be seen first from a distance. Venice Biennale 30122 Venice, Giardini della biennale http://www.labiennale.org/ Opening hours: Daily 10 - 18 hours , Closed Mondays

Österreichischer Pavillon - La Biennale di Venezia
30122 Venezia, Giardini della Biennale
Öffnungszeiten: täglich 11 - 19 h, Fr, Sa bis 20 h,
Montag geschlossen außer 25/07, 15/08, 5/09, 19/09, 31/10, 21/11

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