Notes on the 2019 programme

Realities? What realities?

Reality can be controlled. This becomes clearer every day. Starting in March 2019, the Kunsthaus is immersed in identity and reality constructions with Austrian-Chinese artist Jun Yang's work. The construction of cultural identities, from individual through to national identity, is a recurrent theme in his work. Johann Lurf's and Laura Wagner's intervention runs concurrently in Space03, the "black belly" of the Kunsthaus, presenting a technically perfect reworking of media views of the Planet Earth as a cinematic and socially formative construction.

Performative Turnover is a series of performative developments created jointly with the universities of Graz, which can be seen during the rebuild in June. The artists reflect on the extent to which identities are dependent on spatial and physical attributions in relation to space, body and economies. Staged with Peter Kogler in the summer, the exhibition Connected closely examines how realities are controlled through repetition, reproduction, repeated affirmation and the experience of an all-over that is connected with everything. Starting with his work, visual and content-related links are created from Fernand Léger through to Franz West, as we experience them every day across time and space on the web. The central issue here is social programmability and the exertion of influence, intoxicating dependence and critical distance – both in the era of industrialisation and in the era of digitalisation today.

In the autumn, the exhibition Arts_Crafts investigates the compatibility of the knowledge of hand and of machine, and the extent to which these can be brought together in a productive relationship. This exhibition traces the thematic curve of research into technological developments as a trigger for changing realities and the fetishisations they control.  


Genial creation, collective creating?

The Jun Yang exhibition considers fundamental questions around artistic endeavour: what expectations do we have of artists, how do they present themselves, how are they presented? How much can artists create by themselves, and to what extent is a "work" always the product of exchange and collaboration with others? Here authorship, identity attributions and the allocation of roles become the subject of the artist's reflections. Particular importance is placed on collaboration with others. Thus Yang's solo exhibition ultimately becomes a collective activity with many participants, where the restrictive boundaries between disciplines are crossed. Those involved include Erwin Bauer, Mike Kelley/Paul McCarthy, siren eun young jung, Lee Kit, Oliver Klimpel, Michikazu Matsune, Yuuki Nishimura, Yuki Okumura, Koki Tanaka, Maja Vukoje, Jun Yang and Bruce Yonemoto.

The exhibition with the programmatic title Connected: Peter Kogler with George Antheil with Friedrich Kiesler with Hedy Lamarr with Fernand Léger with Charlotte Perriand with Franz Pomassl with Franz West follows on from this. In this spatial installation spanning two floors the individual positions can no longer be clearly separated from one another. This calls to mind the principles of the Gesamtkunstwerk and with George Antheil, Fernand Léger and Charlotte Perriand also refers to an era that aimed for a conceivable joint work to shape the future of a renewed society. In Connected, this utopia of a concrete change in society shifts towards the analysis of an image-controlled world. Through intermediality and shared authorship, the relationship between the various media, potential aesthetic couplings and their ruptures are investigated.

The exhibition Kunst_Handwerk explores artistic engagement with craft processes and production techniques, opening up authorship towards collective knowledge and the transmission of traditions, which are constantly reinterpreted. In their work, Azra Akšamija, Plamen Dejanoff, Olaf Holzapfel, Jorge Pardo, Slavs and Tatars, Haegue Yang and Johannes Schweiger link artisan traditions with social and economic conditions in a globalised world. Notions of (individual) artistic production, of cultural classifications, pure identity concepts and categorisations are punctured.  


Original, copy, reproduction, fetish?

In terms of its media, Jun Yang's work is very diverse: objects, photographs, films, installations, performances, restaurant and café interiors, collective projects. Originals, copies, reproductions, his own productions, co-productions and outsourced productions are combined on equal terms. The status and nature of each material object are directly related to the circumstance, to the project in question, and are derived from that. In this way, Yang's exhibition also raises essential questions about the value of an original, a unique piece, of series and reproductions in European/ non-European art history, in media perception and on the art market.

Likewise in Connectedthe boundaries between original and copy are broken down deliberately, and with relish. Kogler was one of the first media artists to use a computer to generate images. His hypnotic all-over pictures are characterised by the proliferation of an endlessly repeated vocabulary of form. The repetition of morphing reproduction on walls, also running into fabrics and furniture, appeared years ahead of a society controlled by images. In the interaction between music, film and references to history, Kogler creates a fundamental interweaving and interlinking of time and space, of image and sound, which in turn, on site and to powerful effect, draws the viewer and their interactivity into a state of permanent, multidimensional image and space montages. The Kunsthaus is thus transformed into a theatrical space, an event space. The exhibition Kunst_Handwerk is dedicated to an artistic practice that comes from analysing material and functions, and which transmits this knowledge in constant adaptation to new situations. Within this context it is not the individual's unique signature style that is the focus, but rather inscription into our collective knowledge and its transmission.     


Economy? Economy.

The original work, the clearly identifiable artist's signature style and the narrative of the authentic creator and individual artist are especially well suited to the "branding" of the artist and works, and so fit in with market requirements. In this year's programme at the Kunsthaus, this is taken up as a theme on several levels: Jun Yang appears twice (as the Austrian-Chinese artist invited by the Kunsthaus and also as his San Francisco-based Korean namesake), renouncing a clearly identifiable artistic signature, while originals and copies, unique pieces and mass-produced goods appear on equal terms together. Logically, the exhibition continues in the Kunsthaus shop. The proceeds flow back into artistic production.    

Performative Turnover is devoted specifically to the triad Body - Space - Economy. In the past, the belief was that performative works were not collectable and therefore incompatible with the art market; this myth has now been debunked. The participating artists reflect various forms of economisation: of the body, the institution, and also their own practice. 

Peter Kogler provides the impulse for Connected. He connects with George Antheil, Friedrich Kiesler, Hedy Lamarr, Fernand Léger, Charlotte Perriand, Franz Pomassl and Franz West, taking on the role of a director. Film, machine music, serial, reproducible art and furniture as well as originals enter into an aesthetic synthesis with space. As an installative composition, the joint work is inalienable. It exists only in the here and now and can only be experienced on site. Arts_Crafts intentionally contrasts the fetishisation and commodification of individual objects with the slowness of handcraft, its collective spirit, with repetitive, practised execution and the handing down of knowledge through the generations.           


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24th/25th December 2023