The Museum as a Gym

Fitness trail at the Kunsthaus Graz. A Project by Aldo Giannotti

12.06.-21.08.2016 10:00-17:00


Opening: 12th of June, 11 am
Curated by: Katia Huemer, Elisabeth Schlögl
Price: Free entrance with sportswear

Venue: The stations are spread over the entire house


The Museum as a Gym by Aldo Giannotti  (born 1977 in Genoa, lives in Vienna) has been designed on the occasion of the series Open House@Kunsthaus Graz. It is one of the two winning projects of an invited competition for the Open House: eight national and international artists has been invited by the Kunsthaus Graz to “infiltrate” Kunsthaus Graz. What is the space at Kunsthaus like and how can it be intervened with? What rules of play exist in public institutions and what are we going to do about them? What architectonic, structural and mental barriers exist and how can they be removed? We were looking for art that opens up Kunsthaus to address questions such as these.

 

In this project, with a twinkle in his eye, Aldo Giannotti takes a glance at rules and codes of behaviour imposed by oneself or by public authorities. Thereby, The Museum as a Gym tests Kunsthaus Graz for its fitness capability and invites the audience to be active not – as usual – only with the mind, but also with the body.

 

Text: Giorgio Palma

The Project The Museum as a Gym by Aldo Giannotti (born 1977 in Genoa, lives in Vienna) has been designed on the occasion of the series Open House@Kunsthaus Graz.

The series aims at opening up Kunsthaus Graz in different artistic and social directions. Issues about use, function and contents of an exhibition house for contemporary art are examined through various formats such as exhibitions, installations, talks, concerts and workshops. Within this, the focus lies on a lively, discursive encounter with contemporary art, encouraging participation and stimulating a reflection on the institution’s boundaries and rules of play.

 

In his project, with a twinkle in his eye, Aldo Giannotti takes a glance at rules and codes of behaviour imposed by oneself or by public authorities. Thereby, The Museum as a Gym tests Kunsthaus Graz for its fitness capability and invites the audience to be active not – as usual – only with the mind, but also with the body.

 

In a series of drawings that serve as instructions, visitors of all ages are invited to experience the museum as a gym, not only for the mind, but also for the body. .....

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In line with the multi-purpose, open nature of Kunsthaus Graz, the project enables a dynamic and collaborative encounter with a museum of contemporary art as a space for public engagement. As one of the designers of Kunsthaus Graz put it, “like a human personality, a building can become more and more intriguing as we delve inside and get to know it” (Peter Cook). With this in mind, Giannotti invites the audience to engage with the institution and to conquer its space through a familiar, physical experience.

 

The theme of the individual’s relationship with their surroundings runs like a red thread throughout Giannotti’s body of work, and here too it is his main concern.  Indeed, there is a functional correlation between the way a space is arranged and our tendency to behave in a particular way inside it. In accordance with the notion of Umwelt as developed by Baron von Uexküll (1), Giannotti explores the museum space as a set of orientation marks that act as instructions and turn the physical, objective space into a system of significance or living environment. In order to turn a museum into a gym, it is necessary to alter those “bearers of significance” (Bedeutungsträger) that delimit the extent of actions within the museum space in such a way that the audience is tempted to do gym exercises in it. By doing so, the artist investigates the structure and functioning of the museum as a social space.

 

By shifting from one significance system to another and crossing the border between them, the functional relationship with the environment, which guides the audience’s behaviour, is temporarily suspended and deactivated. This “being-held-in-suspense” between different semantic worlds lets those sets of rules, inherent to a museum or a gym, appear in their contingency and plasticity. Ultimately, by way of this disarming artifice, Giannotti is able to hint with ease and irony at those common marketing strategies which, with regard to the audience and membership development, link the museum to the gym.

 

The Museum as a Gym can also be considered as a stress test, in which Kunsthaus Graz is examined for its functional capacity and social elasticity. Through an active exploration that doesn’t shy away from physical strain and personal commitment, the institution’s infrastructure opens up as its symbolic musculature. This musculature points in different directions of contraction and, thereby, suggests its potential extension. Measuring such extensibility by using the museum as a gym, the visitors can activate untapped possibilities of dealing with the museum environment and, at the same time, question the role, which a museum of contemporary art plays in the interaction between different social bodies.

 

(1) For Uexküll’s notion of Umwelt, see the brief but accurate overview by Giorgio Agamben in The Open. Man and Animal. Stanford 2004, pp. 39–43.

Picture Gallery - click to enlarge

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