Hannes Priesch

Gifts can be complicated.
There are the truly perfect gifts that manage to surprise us because the gesture and meaning behind them are affectionate and sincere, and the act as a whole brings a joy that even you yourself could not have anticipated. On the other hand, there are also “Greek gifts”, called after the treacherous offering of the Trojan horse, which turned out to be a beautifully wrapped hostile takeover.  There are kind thoughts or well-meaning tokens from acquaintances who have completely different taste to yours. Or there is the classic gift bag, usually filled with things as an investment to attract customers and intended to inspire further purchases.

The Gift by Hannes Priesch has a bit of everything: 
Produced as an edition for the Kunsthaus Shop opening, The Gift by Priesch—who has several works on show at the exhibition Glaube Liebe Hoffnung—makes a shrewd reference to the demands placed on the artist by the institution.

Conveniently packaged in a bag for collectors, the edition includes a signed work by the artist, his catalogue for browsing through, the documentation of the activity and staging in situ and 11 poems by Paul Klee, Else Lasker-Schüler and Karl Kraus, among others.

In German the word ‘Gift’ has a different meaning—poison. The Nazis once declared this collected poetry to be corrupting ‘poison’. So Priesch also points to a suppressed and forgotten history on both sides of the shop counter. Art is indeed a present that requires trust and openness on the part of the receiver.

Art is beautiful, yes, one can be surprised by it. And yet it takes—to paraphrase Karl Valentin—a lot of work and so has a price, even as a gift.

The Gift Bag by Hannes Priesch comes in a limited edition of 22 copies at 222 € each and is available at the Kunsthaus Shop.

Kindly supported by Kleiderwerk.

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24th/25th December 2023