24 May 2017

VIVA ARTE VIVA – 57. VENICE BIENNALE

Venice Biennale
Erwin Wurm, Ship of fools, 2017, 
Courtesy the artist & La Biennale di Venezia

Responding to a year of political turmoil: of Brexit and Trump; of crackdown in Turkey and of yet more terrorist attacks, this year’s Venice Biennale was meant as a countervailing force. French native Christine Macel set out to curate “a biennale designed with artists, by artists and for artists", wherein art serves as a "last bastion against individualism and indifference”. Lacking an overarching theme, Viva Arte Viva is divided into nine chapters: The Pavilion of Artists and Books and The Pavilion of Joys and Fears in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini; The Pavilion of the Common, - the Earth,  - the Traditions, and - the Shamans; as well as The Dionysian Pavilion; The Pavilion of Colors; and finally The Pavilion of Time and Infinity in the Arsenale. Offering artists loose realms to move within is an intriguing idea, yet its realization often underwhelms. Especially in the Central Pavilion, many works are poorly presented. Frances Starkes' Behold Man! (2013), a strong and detailed 192 x 244 cm collage, is hung in a narrow corridor that prevents visitors from beholding the work in its entirety. Too often the placement of works feels like a compromise, more than a thought through juxtaposition. The nine chapters, with their promise of openness and free space, can come to feel clichéd and banal.

9 May 2017

INTERVIEW: PHILIP GRÖZINGER

Philip Grözinger_Courtesy SEXAUER_Photo Marcus Schneider_artfridge7
Philip Grözinger, Courtesy Galerie SEXAUER, Photo © Marcus Schneider

Set in an utterly dystopian landscape, the paintings of Berlin-based artist Philip Grözinger reveal an imaginative universe full of little machines, wired robots and rainbows. In this universe, human beings have become uniform, balloon'ish creatures, whose protective gear turn them into hybrids between man and machine. Despite their desolate setting the images do not convey any disillusion, but they are oddly light-hearted, poetic even, and a bit sarcastic at times. Since years, Grözinger has worked on different unnamed characters and scenarios of this phantasmagorical world, creating an infinite row of sci-fi sequences and visions of our "future archaeology." In our conversation he explains where his inspiration stems from.

24 March 2017

INTERVIEW: KATE STRAIN

5_Kate Strain Kate Strain. Image courtesy Renato Velarde

Following the direction of Krist Gruijthuijsen the jury of Grazer Kunstverein in Austria chose the Irish curator Kate Strain as his successor. Before moving to Graz last year, the 1983-born realised several interdisciplinary projects, mostly exploring the role of performance and performativity in today’s artistic practice. Among others, she has recently developed exhibitions at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin and the rural art space Cow House Studios, Wexford, Ireland. In Graz we talked about the concept of her first exhibition at the institution and her curatorial vision for the Grazer Kunstverein.

16 March 2017

INTERVIEW: CHRISTIAN FALSNAES

Existing_Things "Exiting Things", performance, video, acrylic paint on canvas, COCO, Vienna, 2010 © Christian Falsnaes, courtesy of PSM, Berlin

It is both fascinating and terrifying to participate in a performance by Christian Falsnaes: the 1980-born Danish artist commands exhibition visitors to follow his demands. They ought to dance, to hug, to scream, or even to paint his paintings. And, quite surprisingly, no matter how much they expose themselves and no matter if they actually enjoy doing as they are being told, people usually follow his order. Using the spectators as his artistic material and manipulating group dynamics with painstakingly planned scripts, Falsnaes' enthusiastic and insisting persuasion moves crowds who seem to willingly follow his authority. Performative elements are, however, only one aspect of his practice, which also includes collages, drawings, sculpture and painting, which Falsnaes originally studied in Vienna. Having just moved from Berlin to New York, we spoke about his studio practice, the authorship of his works and his general desire for utterly human gestures.

23 February 2017

INTERVIEW: JULIA WEISSENBERG

ToMakeYouFeel_01
“To Make You Feel Comfortable” (Video still) © Julia Weißenberg

In her video “Nothing to Retain” from 2014, Julia Weißenberg investigated how much impact an architectural design from decades ago could have on the present. The site and the subject of the work is the architectural model of clubhouse for a golf club in Krefeld founded in the 1930s. The 1:1 scale model was built after 2013, to a hitherto unrealized design by Mies van der Rohe. Julia Weißenberg, who graduated from the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne in 2012, has been broadening her range of topics throughout the past 2 years, by moving from visionary architectures to the utopias of city planning.