Peter Weibel

1944 (Odessa) - 2023 (Karlsruhe)

Weibel studied medicine, literature, film, philosophy and mathematics (gaining his doctorate in modal logic) in Vienna and Paris. As of 1965 involvement with “Wiener Aktionismus”, a term coined by him. In the 60s, radical, body-related and socially critical actions. In 1968 Peter Weibel took part in the action “Art and Revolution” in a lecture-hall at Vienna University, where he held a speech with a burning glove against the then government. His work, that was set in the fields of concept art, performance, video art and film, may be summed up as “media art”.

The film medium is incorporated in Weibel’s works in order to explore the problem of the object and its depiction, production and reproduction. In the 70s he turned to media-centred works and works involving audience participation. Weibel’s interdisciplinary artistic activities were based on an all-embracing definition of the concept of medium (from panel painting to screen, from text to body). He saw film, video and computer as extensions of communicative possibilities of expression. His objects and installations reflect a search for new media, methods and materials. The artist focuses on the semiotic aspects of a wide range of materials such as wood, stone and light and also integrates the significance of characters in the work.

In his works the artist explored in depth the art industry and its possibilities and limitations. In 1972 his TV action teleaktionen was broadcast on the “Impulse” programme on Austrian television (ORF). With this work Weibel transcended the traditional exhibition space such as galleries or museums, experimenting with the effect of video technology in the mass medium of television.

In 1977 and 1997 his works were on show at the Kassel “documenta” and in 1978 and 1993 the internationally acclaimed artist took part in the Venice Biennale. In addition to his work as an artist and curator, he also gained international renown with his writings on art and media theory. In 1976 Peter Weibel was visiting professor in Vienna, Kassel, Buffalo and Halifax. In 1989–1994 he was institute director at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. Peter Weibel was long-standing artistic director of Ars Electronica in Linz, from 1993 to 1999 he curated the Austrian contribution to the Venice Biennale. In 1993 he became head curator of Neue Galerie Graz, and from January 1999 he headed the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) in Karlsruhe. In 2003 his works were exhibited at Neue Galerie Graz, in 2004 at Kunsthaus Graz, and the same year he received the Käthe Kollwitz Prize. His sculpture "Der Globus als Koffer" was also on show at the Austrian Sculpture Park in 2004. This work consists of an oversized suitcase handle standing in the countryside intended to give rise to associations of the globe as a suitcase full of data, information, organisms and objects. In 2008 Peter Weibel curated the International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Seville.