Review by OiendrilaMoitra
February 26, 2013


Artists in Multifunctions
An exhibition with 22 contemporary Austrian artists, curated by Peter Weibel
February 10-17, 2013
Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

Cosmo-Politian Techno-Structuralism.

These will be the key words that can summarise the exhibition ‘Artist in Multi-Functions’. It is a show of artworks by the faculty members of University of Applied Arts, Vienna organised together by the aforesaid university along with Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi and Austrian Cultural Forum.

Entering the exhibition space in the Lalit Kala Academi, a viewer clearly enters into a space of multi- dimensional, multi-functional, multi-cultural audio-visual existence. The known aesthetics of visual arts gets blurred into the multi-faceted new media discourse. Art has got a new companion in expressing itself, Science.

Art is now multi-functional, the 2-dimentionality of paintings are now got transfused with the 2- dimensionality of films, the 3-dimensionality of sculptures are now are transfused within the 3-dimensionality of virtual and real space of installation.  The main tool for this transfusion has been the technological aspects created by science, and its enormous power of creating and recreating virtual spaces, visibility and visions. While walking through the gallery space you travel through a magnificently fabricated space of virtual aesthetic, which along with the intervention of viewership while listening and watching converts itself into a reality.

The works of the 22 artists exhibited are varied and versatile in physical and conceptual aspects. Many have shared a common medium as their way of expression, but there are contextual and subjective differences. Martin Arnold, KozekHorlonski-Sir Miesi, Franz Schubert, Herwig Steiner, Nita Tandon, Peter Weibel, and Virgil Widrich, among others have displayed their artworks as video installations, but each with a different language. Martin Arnold in his 2 video projections have played with the uncanny elements of animation while drawing out and cutting open parts of it, registering the tensions between the animate and inanimate. Engaging discreet movements, aggressive motions, automatic forces and uncanny sounds, he projects out the primal depths of human thoughts and desire that remains the primeval forces underneath the meticulously detailed Disney’s cartoons.

KozekHorlonski and Sir Miesi have jointly showcased a video projection of previously enacted and filmed performances. The work encircles to create a coherent story, interplay of the sexes of varied cultures, from happy mountain farmers’ families to Victorian summer vacationers to Indian couples. The performance includes masks and costumes of indigenous cultures as mythical and sexual metaphors, recreating unknown creatures trying to be a part of a heterosexual bourgeois system.

Franz Schubert creates a vacant story space containing various symbolic metaphors yet having a large free space for fabricating story as per the viewer’s choice. The underlined thematic provokes the idea of the ‘golden hour’ that diabolically refers to the best light for outdoor photography and the time given for applying emergency medicine to a seriously wounded person. As the graphically constructed Flemish landscaped video contains a car tossed in accident with in motion dispersing smoke, the metaphorical ideology is intellectually created. Also the number plate of the car contains special significance, LMW 281F, textually referring as Linda McCartney weeps(or widow), a detail from the cover of the Beetle’s album Abbey Road) points out the fact that Paul McCartney perished in a car accident and he was to be 28 yrs old if not dead during the release of the album. Though the works have so many undertones of contextual and conceptual nature, it is as free and undaunted as a free space, free for personal and relative interpretation and story-making.

Herwig Steiner has become a satirist, offering criticism of the public through the mediums of reason and art. His project showcases a strange video, which was disseminated via YouTube, in which through the means of analysis and critique, the artist expresses his satire of politics through re-enactment, stage-setting and video montage. The piece reveals the pseudo-cool mechanisms of politics in public media spaces.

Nita Tandon exhibits a video where the construction, display ad deconstruction of her artwork ‘fingerprint’ is showcased. The work is a over-dimensional 2-d plasticine model of the artist’s fingerprint being fixed upon a glass facade of a exhibition space. While the gallery space remains empty, the model fixture of the fingerprint in the inaccessible glass facade have transformed the space into a virtual ad contextual space of evading definition of identity. The artist have moreover removed the work and cleaned the glass, referring to a question of identity crisis and the presence of the unknown. It is a satire to the presence of the self.

Peter Weibel refers to the virtual space of the mobile gazette through which we tends to see the real space through an unreal eye. The device has its own story to tell, in this case, it juxtapose a 3D red globe circulating in the air having numbers in it. As we roam 360’ in the real space ten globes of similar visual appears, with blood dropping from each, with the number 100 appearing on each globes. A voice accompanies the numbers and pronounces events of mass destruction, genocides, wars etc.  The artist points out to the viewer the very real world in which he/she lives where he/she is the part of the mass destruction and war, yet it is a virtual construction that helps them to realize so. The local world of the viewer, their much known surrounding is the real global space.

Virgil Widrich has produced a video of video-montage, where he has taken various snapshots out of motion pictures and composes them to form a film with contextual and subjective validity. His videos are of varying subjects, from sexual orientations to social values to socio-cultural structures. The final film produces a surreal effect towards cutting, pasting, composing and most importantly re-constructing.

Among the other artists, Judith Eisler have displayed an oil on canvas painting, where she takes a particular image from Ingmar Bergman film ‘Cries and Whispers’, and while doing so, the image is removed from the cinematic narrative and constructs its own story ad mystery. The process of replacing an image from its known context gives it an extra dimension, where a tension is created between cultural fictions and flux of time.

NikolausGansterer in his work deals with the issue of visualizing mental processes. His drawings on the black boards, displayed in a naturalist manner in the exhibition space, signify the cultural cross-sections between science and arts. The drawings have both graphical and diametric connotations, developing new forms of narrations of ideas and at the same time enlisting the poetic potentiality of the geometric and algorithms.  A video work integrated in the display showcases the role of drawing as a medium of knowledge. Following the artist’s had through his process of drawings; the video denotes the artist’s constant development and redeveloping the language of expression and visualizing the aesthetical and calculative mental processes.

MargareteJahrmann in her elaborate installation has addressed to the idea of the trench coat as a sign of cultural identity (British). Here new digital codes are printed on used Burberry, a classical brand, transforming the trench coat into trench-code. The codes suggest alterative realities, alternative societies, alterative economics and overall alternative art.  A conventional reality is transformed into a contemporary sign language, a new combinatorial image consisting of media realities.

Johanna Kandl has a large tempera on wood displayed where in a cityscape of Berlin and a market stand of Baku unusual nameplates appear. The artist combines the personal and autobiographical aspects with global economy, addressing post capitalism and economy crisis. It is like a reality show with unreal persons living, sharing roads and life space in the most unusual circumstances.

Will Kopf’s sculptural piece is constructed of the industrial objects composing a space colony. The work addresses to the idea of randomised composition of departmental stores where the range of products are rationally structured in accordance with the question of consumption. It is a very systematic composition with industrial hardware answering the randomisation of the digitally interfaced world.

Brigitte Kowanz’s light installation connotes to the thought of the artist, light being the definition of both time and space. The time is calculated as per the speed of light, and what we see in space is because of light. The artist ties to develop the versatile and perfectionist language of light. To her, the process of perception is the process of knowledge.

Martin Kusch’s exhibited sculptures are 3d prints of plaster. The images (a train and a truck) are frozen into their momentary moods, showcasing the power of the technology of 21st century to freeze time, mood and structure. The common daily life images are hereby museamised, converting their reality into collectable items, an issue commonly addressed in this society of commodity fetishism.

Max Moswitzer has worked with the idea of avatar, as a representation of the outer face of the diversified identity of the persona that may be different from the existing self. The dialogue between the virtual or constructive representation and the real undaunted interior self is the paradigm of the work.

NikiPassath has showcased images of his robotic performances and robot is installed as a museum product. In the performance he has travelled an electronically programmed robot into spaces of exploring wild, distant lands. As the robot is not a carrier of emotions or does not feel, it conveys an exact viewing of the spaces it travelled, a question we ask ourselves always in this economically and politically tormented world, how should we response.

Renate Quehenberger through his prints and videos has presented the idea of the fifth element of Plato, which refers to the construction of the universal space of existence. The video has 3D rendered representation of the idea. It is mathematically integrated calculations and research, the visual representation of which in 3D forms and colors have evoked a strong aesthetical undercurrent.

Gabriele Rotheman has exhibited three large circular prints of snakes on a white unreal background. The twisting bodies of the serpents connotes to strong currents of physicality, the dots and the intricate detailing of the body of the snakes again transforms the whole image into an image of decoration and design. What first appears to be linear, planar, proves at second glance to be a breathing being revealing its vitality and keen sensory perception. The hyper-reality of the image have formed its true connotations, the over-lifelikeness of the image have re-transformed itself to being an artwork.

RomanaScheffknecht has developed her small projector installation as a part of the small self-contained cube. The poetic thinking of the artist is clearly visible in the miniaturisedcomposition, small fables are created in the scenes, function like paradigmatic statements. The world to her is simply all that. The media is not a window to the world reality but a counterpart, which produces the immanence of our consciousness.

Ruth Schnell, in his vertically constructed light sticks has addressed the question of the presence of concept in the perceptual reality. It is presence of the absence, the existence of hologram in real space and time. Notably the point of recognition of the words or sentences lasts for few seconds, during which the immaterial suddenly becomes material, only to disappear outside the range of human perception.

RiniTandon has also focuses on the point of presence of the unknown, where a physically created definition may produces loads of virtual imagination. The audio/video play-bar with its over-life-size structure defines a space of understanding and pure mental process that fabricates a physically absent and psychologically constructed space of images. Here the sensory perception of the human mind is dominated by the free will of the unconscious that clearly constructs and deconstructs our thinking processes.

The varied artworks by the artists of the faculty and directory board of the University of Vienna showcases the diversified pedagogical system of the academic frontier. The importance of the exhibition in New Delhi and India also lies here. In the country like India where the institutions have definitive pedagogical structures and academics, which is sometimes bounding, the utterly experimental art practice of the university can be found as an inspiring example. Art has no boundaries, the processes of thoughts are limitless and the practice should also have a bigger horizon to blossom itself than the limits and ideology of an institutional backbone. In the 21st century technology plays a vital role in cosmopolitan and national constructions, and art being an invincible part of it should response and play along with it without any problems. The exhibition no doubt have showcased some of the best works of today’s art practice of any institutional coherence, and have validity in the tech-savvy new world. As a part of art practice in India, I feel inspired and educated as being a part of the viewership of this exhibition.