English Summaries May 4 - 7

La Biennale di Venezia 56th Venice Biennale – Austrian Pavilion: Heimo Zobernig 08.05.2015 - 22.11.2015 Next to nothing By Johanna Hofleitner The work that Heimo Zobernig developed for the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has a magnitude of 11.5 x 25 metres which corresponds to the length and breadth of the inside of the pavilion, thus stretching this room to the absolute maximum. Additionally, it uses the entire height right up to the crown by incorporating both the floor and the ceiling. Nevertheless, it may be good that unprepared visitors see next to nothing or at best, register five simple, white benches which are situated parallel to the side walls, thus reminding one of the usual seating accommodation prevalent in museums or other exhibition rooms. But perhaps they set one on the track of the monumental black sculpture composed of several parts which Heimo Zobernig has, so to speak, built into the Pavilion. Perhaps they divert the glance to the floor which, emanating from the central – white – middle support stretches on the same level like a theatre stage on both sides to the walls, thus turning the room into a stage and consequently, the visitors, into actors. But the installation blocks the view towards what is behind it –to the now concealed terminal round arches between the pillars which are around the continuous row of windows or the staircase leading down from the middle support, all subtle gestures of power and representation with which the architects Josef Hoffmann and Herbert Kramreiter underlaid the modernistic construction. But even more clearly, they make the transformation of the room into a room for art which, because of the competitive situation of the Biennale, is defined by the social context of the art experiences and the (garden-)architectural surroundings of the Giardini, as well as the garden belonging to the Pavilion (even if the changes to the exit room are only to be understood by insiders). Thus, not only the public, but also the entire room, inclusive of the space between floor and monolith ceiling, become an entire element, a simple and at the same time complex sculpture which not only formally integrated the dimension of the exhibition Pavilion and its surroundings, but also thematically. La Biennale di Venezia 30122 Venezia, Giardini della Biennale http://www.labiennale.org/ Opening hours: daily 10 - 18 hours, closed on Mondays Galerie Guido W. Baudach Erik van Lieshout - After the Riot II 01.05.2015 – 06.06.2015 The path is the goal By Thomas W. Kuhn Politics in art is a difficult thing if propaganda and kitsch are to be avoided. He who dares to cast the discerning eyes of an artist on this terrain will have to ask himself where, in the course of the agitation, the limits of aesthetic business lie. Here, well meant is not always well done, as the art critic, then representative of a political power, once judged: a dilemma with which the still relevant "Raft of the Medusa" by Théodore Géricault reached the upper echelons of social discourse 200 years ago. Erik van Lieshout does not shy away from treading this path. "After the Riot II" plunges right into the heart of the action and, in that act, affords the, above all notorious, denial of reality which can be vilified as "fouling one's own nest", a critical glance at his mother country. This view created for the public thereby hazards the consequence of being banal, like the installation on the Berlin Oranienplatz that admonishes the scandal of the locked EU external borders: symbolized by a polygon with doors locked from the outside. For Erik van Lieshout, this is a type of Art Arena surrounded by mobile fences which create a semi-transparent inside and outside. One can enter this auditorium through a narrow door and look at films on two projection screens in which different protagonists in "play" get to speak about fleeing and immigration: the refugee, the smuggler, the profiteer. Wouldn't everyone be helped if the immigration to Europe for attractive Asian or African women would be facilitated to give corpulent and elderly men unexpected happiness? The figure of this argument appears woodcut-like: the eternal evil in the form of the white man. In Erik van Lieshout's collages, his appearance may be carried out in playing an erotic role as a dog on a lead and as a dominant slave, dictate the rules of his desire to his exotic mistress. The situation is, according to Erik van Lieshout, a double play. The situation appears similar from an inner European perspective when he thematises the Russian oppositionist, Alexander Dolmatov. The Russian politician sought asylum in the Netherlands and in 2013 – in all probability - committed suicide, allegedly in fear of being deported to Russia. Thus, Erik van Lieshout created a wasps' nest in the rooms of his Berlin Gallery that, with reference to the central, largely locked room, funnels the visitor in a perverse way into the role of asking himself whether he is an intruder, a prisoner, a locker-out, or a guard. And does the artist escape the aesthetic dilemma? Sketches and collages make it difficult to overlook the Dutchman's ability. "After the Riot II" is for sale in a gallery – that is not circumventable as an economic factor. But just as uncircumventable is the factor that this work as a whole generates a set of uncomfortable questions and intervenes psychologically in the aesthetic-receptive auditorium. In any case, in Guido W. Baudach's program, Erik van Lieshout articulates the counterpart substantially in a form-conscious escapism of a Björn Dahlem, where, admittedly, both unify a deep sense of encompassing the installative, the room and the viewer. Galerie Guido W. Baudach Charlottenburg 10785 Berlin, Potsdamer Strasse 85 Tel: +49 30 319 981 01 Fax: +49 30 319 981 03 email: galerie@guidowbaudach.com http://www.guidowbaudach.com Opening hours: Tue - Sat 11-18 hours Nolan Judin Philipp Fürhofer - In Light of the Hidden 01.05.2015 – 27.06.2015 Stage presence By Thomas Kuhn The transition from one artistic medium to another is an act which is not always easily done. In the case of Philipp Fürhofer, it's about the leap from stage setting to fine art. An applied composition that on stage is a natural component of the production may, in an exhibition room, lose something that would otherwise be self-evident on a stage. At any rate, Philipp Fürhofer's intricately conceived objects adhere to a certain staginess which, if nothing else, can be attributed to the changing light situations which arise from switching integrated lamps on and off. This theatrical effect is combined with a deep grasp on trash aesthetic in terms of materiality and a combination of the elements. At the same time, bonds to the hidden intermedial works of Robert Rauschenberg are revealed, where silhouettes of partially life-sized figures which are recognisable within the multilayered foils and panes, are called to mind. Also dramatic: the titles in which a considerable amount of pathos can be felt. Already, the introductory citation by Galileo Galilei, with which the gallery wants to facilitate access to a text-based understanding of the works, is high flying. Jane Neal, author of the text, also then refers to Wagner, indicates inspiring sources and provides the blinking installation with a halo of high culture. Effectively, the Wagnerian concept "Gesamtkunstwerk" may legitimately bridge the gap between the media and contexts. The transposition of the exhibition room into a stage can also facilitate and highlight a specific understanding of this that is "treated" here as social, cultural and, above all, as economic. But does the work stretch so far as to include the Conditio humana? The view from the rood loft into the gallery facilitates the discovery of a veritable quality of Philipp Fürhofer's installations. It's the manifold, varied light reflections on the floor of the exhibition room that simulate an abstract play. At least for these it's worth a glance at his work which is presented by Judin under ideal conditions. Nolan Judin 10785 Berlin, Potsdamer Straße 83 Tel: +49 30 39 40 48 40 Fax: +49 30 39 40 48 420 email: info@nolan-judin.de http://www.nolan-judin.com Opening hours: Tue - Sat 11-18 hours La Biennale di Venezia The pavilions of the nations at the 56th Biennale di Venezia 08.05.2015 – 22.11.2015 A finger on the map of art By Andrea Winklbauer And the winner is – a pavilion which not too many people seem to have seen on the preview days: the Armenian. It is located on a small island in the lagoon, San Lazzaro degli Armeni, site of the Order of the Mechitarists. The Armenian monastery with its important collection of manuscripts, where once Lord Byron – perhaps the most famous guest – learnt Armenian, is certainly one of the best places worldwide for an exhibition of artists from the Armenian diaspora, particularly when looking at the background in remembrance of the genocide one hundred years ago in the Ottoman Empire. However, the average preview visitor has to economize with his/her time and unfortunately, boat No. 20 only goes once an hour. The pavilion was awarded the Golden Lion - Sabine Breitwieser, Director of the MdM Salzburg, and Mario Codognato, chief Curator of the 21 Haus were part of the jury. To miss something out is often the case with those recurrent, art-loving visitors to the Venice Biennale. But this time, it would be much worse to miss Okwui Enwezor's glitteringly curated show, particularly the part in the Main Pavilion in the Giardini. Even on the Biennale's very own grounds of the Giardini, there was never anything that was so exciting. A staggering number of representatives of nations mirror Enwezor's proclaimed motto of the year "All the World's Futures" with his three "screens" - "Reading Capital" (Karl Marx), "Garden of Disorder" and "Liveness: On Epic Duration". A lot is simply solid and well safeguarded, like the nonetheless beautiful and confidently stylish Austrian contribution by Heimo Zobernig. Also very lovely is the contribution of the Taiwanese Vincent J. F. Huang in the Pavilion of the Pacific State Tuvalu in the Arsenale: there, one has to cross the flooded floor via a catwalk, thereby inevitably getting one's feet wet – a unique indication of global warming which is threatening the island of Tuvalu as well as Venice. Nicolaus Schafhausen curated the Kosovo Pavilion with works by Flaka Haliti – she is known to the Viennese public through a show in the Mumok in 2014. Art is still understood as a spectacle such as in the Japanese Pavilion, which Chiharu Shiota has decorated with a web of red yarn on which have been hung numerous keys, thus creating an intensive colour-space experience – quasi the antithesis of Zobernig's minimalistic, black-and-white procedure in the noble rooms of the art representation of the Alpine Republic. Provocation is frugally distributed. But at least, Christoph Büchel, the Swiss artist who, in 2010, set up a swinger club in the Vienna Secession, transformed an abandoned church into a mosque as the Icelandic contribution – but "in collaboration with the Muslim community of Iceland and Muslim community of Venice, Italy". In the Spanish Pavilion, one can view film material on Salvador Dalí. In comparison, the contemporary art placed with it appears somewhat strenuous and exhausting. One would have wished for something more experimental, more surprising twists and turns of the idioms of art. Much that may have looked good in a gallery frequently appears not so good within the framework of the oldest, and still most important, Biennale. La Biennale di Venezia 30122 Venezia, Giardini della Biennale http://www.labiennale.org/ Opening hours: daily 10 - 18 hours, closed on Mondays

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