World of art News
Excursion in Vienna
This year the programme of curatorial studies at the Jagiellonian University included also a four-day trip to Vienna, which took place in December.
The primary aim of the excursion, which was a part of the Leonardo project that the Jagiellonian University drafted together with the similar curatorial studies programme from Vienna, Ljubljana and Zagreb, was to visit and examine the exhibiting practices of the most important institutions of contemporary art in Vienna.
The programme of the curatorial excursion to Vienna comprised of visits to several of the most important public institutions dealing with contemporary art.
The first institution we visited was Kunsthalle Wien, which focuses on international contemporary art and wants to emphasize cross-genre, cross-border trends in the arts. We had a chance to see there two exhibitions, Power Up – Female Pop Art and Bruce Conner. The 70s.
The second institution we visited was Architekturzentrum. We had a quick overview with curator Monika Platzer. There was a permanent exhibition of architecture documentation and Platz da! European Urban Public Space. We also had a chance to visit the centre’s library and learn about its educational programme.
One of the highlights of the visit to the Museumsquartier was the visit to MUMOK and a meeting with Dr Rainer Fuchs, the vice director of the museum who gave a talk about the strategy of this institution, as well as about the new ways of displaying the collection and making interesting juxtapositions of works from the collection and contemporary artworks. At the time of our visit there was an exhibition entitled Hyper Real, a display of art works representing the movement of hiper- and photorealism. The great asset of the exhibition was the unconventional selection of works, as well as the curatorial idea to link in a very clever way works that seem to be almost too well known to be surprising.
WUK. The programme of the excursion enabled us to have an overview of the most important state and city-funded institutions and those run by more independent organizations. We had a chance to get acquainted with the practical concerns of several of such independent initiatives that are associated under the joined name of WUK. Springing from a grass-roots projects, mostly run by students, WUK comprises an art gallery, theatre organizations, as well as offers studios for artists. At Kunsthalle Exnergasse, which is a part of WUK, we visited an exhibition entitled Critical Complicity which realizes to some extent the main aims of the gallery as far as its critical programme is concerned, namely the focus on the issues generally associated with institutional critique, the rethinking of the way art is produced, circulated, and contested.
Critical Complicity featured mainly conceptual art and addressed problems related to the critical entanglements of art production and reception. The main point of reference was the material, or financial, dimension of art, as well as the position of art, especially conceptual art, in the context of art-as-commodity related issues.
Kunstraum Niederosterreich is an institution focused on contemporary artists based in Austria. We had a quick overview with Theresia Pumhoesel who talked about the idea of the institution. Then we had a chance to see an exhibition You won’t Make a (Nation) State with Us and listen to the curatorial comments by the curator Walter Seidl. The exhibition addressed the issues of migration, political and social exclusion and inclusion. Kustraum Niederosterreich seems to confront current socio-political problems.
Secession. The Vienna Secession is focused on the presentation of current developments in Austrian art, and especially Vienna-based artists. Annette Sudbeck, who works for the Secession, gave as a quick overview about the aims of the institution. We also had a chcnace to see three solo exhibitions, of Manfred Parnice, Trevor Paglen and Maria Bussman.
Generali Foundation. At the Generali Foundation we had a chance to see an exhibition of Ana Torfs, as well as learn about the strategies of the institution as regards the collection. Doris Leutgeb, responsible for the art works in the collection, gave a talk about the history of the collection, about the history of the building, and the main aims of a corporation-funded institution in the art world. As has been suggested, one of the fundamental issues that Generali focuses on in its exhibitionary practice is institutional critique. What strikes one, however, is that the building as such and the exhibition space have a very clearly felt bank-like character, with slightly dark, steel-coated walls giving the whole place an air of a safe where art is deposited rather that a place where art and its practical and symbolic dimensions are discusses and contested. In her talk Doris Leutgeb discussed the conditions on which art works can be loaned from Generali and it was suggested that in some cases, especially when given art work is to be displayed in an "inappropriate" context, the foundation is prone to dismiss such a request. What is apparent here is that, as it seem, not only does the foundation have the works materially, but it also clearly outlines that given lines of interpretation of certain art works are more desirable that others. Thus, to approach critically or re-interpret certain pieces from the collection by inserting them in new (perhaps controversial) contexts may, as it seems, be impossible.
The organizers of the excursion provided us also with a list of private galleries worth visiting. One of them was Galerie Senn where we could see an exhibition of a Polish artist, Tomasz Kowalski, one of the most popular painters in Poland, associated usually with the so-called surrealist movement in Polish visual arts.