Group exhibition, Graz/Austria:
Untitled (The Author Entitles Texts By Experimenting With Art.)

ohne Titel @ Medienturm Graz, Design: Tina Frank

The dominant components of the art reception are now the continuum of the artist’s mug, the integration into the world of celebrity, the calculation of capacity and municipal marketing of the institutions, the pop- and soap connection and the child-oriented cooperative interactivity.—Diedrich Diederichsen

Pseudonyms, avatars and artificial characters—incognito and bodiless, authors appear transiently on blogs and online forums using them as a hiding place in an increasingly transparent world. Nameless, without age or origin, in this vague anonymity they seem to make good “The Death of the Author” (1) as it was emblematically postulated long ago in the context of literary theory. However, even if the biography—in theory—might have disengaged from the meaning of the work, the literature and art scenes continue symbolically and actually to focus on the individual. Institutions that adjust their program to the market according to significant stages in the lives of their protagonists but also debates around copyright and copyright licenses directly refer to the irrevocable relevance of the biography in a “regime of biographism and narcissism, service processuality and authenticity” (2)—the curriculum as measure of all art production?

Starting from the idea of a “modern scriptor” who is “born simultaneously with the text” (3)—as introduced by literary criticism—the exhibition Untitled (The Author Entitles Texts By Experimenting With Art.) questions an art-market-driven orientation towards subject and biography as meaningful criteria in the valuation of art. The mainly language- and text-based artworks in the exhibition reflect the role of the artist-subject both in the production and reception aesthetics-based discourse in the current socio-political context and with respect to the interpretation practice in exhibition space. Above all, the art scene acts as superstructure, as a mechanism that outlives itself and seems only to facilitate the construction of sense relations. The main focus of the exhibition is the figure of the “author”, which is raised to a universal instance, meaning a model-like artist subject, an existence that is independent of the individual and evolves only with the interactive relation of artwork and audience—text and reader—and is defined during its time “of the enunciation” (4). The complex and entangled relations between the producing and the receiving subject are thus opened up for the aesthetic valuation of art in a media context: “The autonomy of art, consequently and according to this understanding is not anymore inside the object, but is inferred from the relation of subject and object: with respect to the specific manner of how we experience objects of art—in particular in contrast to other things.” (5)

Not least by the title of the exhibition, the role of the curator is analyzed in the light of the complex interplay of the artist’s status and its commercial marketability, of the artwork’s production and reception processes and the institutional critique that opposes the system of the “art market”. The unassigned untitled raises the editorial tasks of the exhibition makers for discussion, thus allowing the reader’s/visitor’s imagination the greatest possible scope. At the text level on the other hand, the computer-generated subtitle—The Author Entitles Texts By Experimenting With Art (originally in German: Der/die AutorIn tituliert Texte durch eine versuchsweise Kunst)—summarizes what Roland Barthes—referring to Julia Kristevas’ theory of intertextuality—has described as a “tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture.” (6) . Finally, the work emancipates itself from the artistic concept and the reader is defined as “the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost” (7). The audience becomes the meaningful subject and the author is no longer at the helm.

In this controversial context Anna Artaker reviews in Unbekannte Avantgarde (2008) the gender balance in portraits of artist groups, which had advanced, in the course of the twentieth century, to the position of crucial reference sources. Without hesitation, she furnishes the male representatives of these collectives with female names. The discourse of gender is also implicated in the poster installation Some Of The Names Of Photoshop (2009): the artist not only faces the authors but also the commercial and social reference framework of those technical means which are essential for today’s digital image production.

Miriam Bajtala’s two-part video work Ohne Schatten: trigger (2009) and satellite me (2009) also revolves around the perception of digital image material: in her arrangements, the artist creates containers for narration where the shown action becomes a variable. The video images – for satellite me re-arranged by a computer program – are left as visual common property and form for possible narrations to the perception of the audience. In arbeiten für ohne titel (2008/2009), Bajtala, finally, transfers the responsibility of seeing the artwork totally to the readers. Expectations that are brought forth on a text level are visually not fulfilled – the gap in the immaterial world is only filled by the audience’s power of imagination.

An active reading on the part of the audience is also demanded by Nikolaus Gansterer with his analogue hypertext installation Mnemocity (Figures of Thought II – VI) (2005/2010). He concentrates individually selected and processed theoretical texts of various authors to a three-dimensional web of network nodes and interconnections, which can be deciphered over and over according to the respective spatial position of the reader. The relations between the word and its meaning, the text and its author are in the center of Jörg Piringer’s video works wir alle (2001), vielleicht (2002), and vorsprung (2004). On the basis of already existing text material like declarations, advertising messages and political speeches and by means of moving text-images, he noticeably dissolves the borderlines between art and literature.

Michael Kargl’s book installation a misunderstanding (2008-2010) encapsulates the topic of the exhibition in terms of a documentation of non-accepted calls of the artist, which are interpreted as waste product of the intricate mechanisms of the art scene and puts up for discussion the production conditions of contemporary art. Commercial strategies of marketability are also topicalized by the artist with objects of desire (2005-2008). In the course of a continuous process – original – artworks are generated of successive numbers, which disappear as quickly from the screen as they appeared thereon beforehand.

By the art scene often used metaphors and concepts are finally subject of Miriam Laussegger’s und Eva Beierheimer’s series of works worte#25/installation/ der/die betrachterIn interpretiert/2010 (2010) and the corresponding online text generator (2006/2010). With their collection of technical terms and terminologies, they reduce to absurdity language that relates to art by generating artificial language and return it again to the exhibition space as installation which is detached from the author-subject.

(1) see Roland Barthes, Image Music Text, Essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath, Fontana Press, London, 1977.
(2) Diedrich Diederichsen, Eigenblutdoping. Selbstverwertung, Künstlerromantik, Partizipation, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne, 2008, p. 196.
(3) Roland Barthes, Image Music Text, Essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath, Fontana Press, London, 1977, p. 145.
(4) Ibid.
(5) Juliane Rebentisch, Ästhetik der Installation, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 2003, p. 105.
(6) Roland Barthes, Image Music Text, Essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath, Fontana Press, London, 1977, p. 146
(7) Ibid., p. 148

Anna Artaker, Some Of The Names Of Photoshop (2009)

Anna Artaker
Some Of The Names Of Photoshop (2009) | Banner, paper, black and white, 464 x 91 cm

Who are Sarah Kong and Andrew Coven, who is Jackie Lincoln-Owyang? Who is responsible for today’s production and manipulation of photographic images? Who defines the international standards of image data? While Adobe Photoshop is loading, 41 names briefly appear on the screen. The list of people involved in the development of the image processing application begins with Thomas Knoll, its inventor, in order to proceed hierarchically in descending order. In Some Of The Names Of Photoshop, Anna Artaker shows all the names on a four-and-a-half-meter-long paper banner—the static presentation of what can otherwise hardly be noticed. With her text installation, using Photoshop’s own Myriad font, the artist not only puts the ability of the audience and perhaps of Photoshop users of assigning the names to the program to the test. But at the same time she questions the role of the leading international monopoly Adobe Systems Inc. by looking behind the scenes of contemporary image production and its tools. The focus is on the people who—in a metaphorical and literal sense—automatically inscribe themselves in the process of image editing every time the program is loaded.

Anna Artaker, Unbekannte Avantgarde (2008)

Anna Artaker
Unbekannte Avantgarde (2008) | Ten historical photographs, black-and-white prints on baryta paper, from 10 x 6.70 cm to 30 x 18.60 cm (unframed), ten captions, paper, each A5

The Zielscheibe group, the Dadaists, Surrealists, Bauhaus, Experimentele Groep, Cobra, Abstract Expressionists, Situationist International, Spur and the Austrian Filmmakers Cooperative: if popular portrait photos from art history books are to be believed, apart from one token female artist all these twentieth-century groups of artists were male. In Unbekannte Avantgarde, Anna Artaker confronts this phenomenon with alternative research. On sheets of paper sheets added as captions to the original photographs, she duplicates the people portrayed as silhouettes and gives each abstract male head a female name. Kurt Kren, Hans Scheugl, Gottfried Schlemmer, Peter Weibel and Ernst Schmidt jr., for example, become Linda Christanell, Mara Mattuschka, Lisl Ponger, Moucle Blackout and Maria Lassnig. Starting from the allegedly imaging function of photography, which inevitably makes each arrangement a historical document, in Unbekannte Avantgarde Anna Artaker develops a parallel history of artist subjects aiming to a certain extent at revising the staging of documentary photographs and their gender relations.

Biography — Anna Artaker, born 1976 in Vienna, lives and works in Vienna | study at the Universities of Vienna and Paris 8 (philosophy, political sciences) and at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (conceptual art) | exhibitions (selection): Quasi dasselbe…? Diskurse mit poetischer Funktion (Kunstpavillon, Innsbruck 2010), 48 Köpfe aus dem Merkurov Museum (Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg 2009), Modernologies (MACBA – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona 2009), Fortsetzung Folgt. (Kunstraum Niederoesterreich, Vienna 2009), Am Sprung (OK – Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, Linz 2008)

Miriam Bajtala, arbeiten für ohne titel (2008/2009)

Miriam Bajtala
arbeiten für ohne titel (2008/2009) | 60 A4 sheets of paper, framed collector’s versions

Artists call their works “untitled” when they do not want to constrict them by linguistic signs, thus seeking to draw the audience’s attention increasingly to the form. In arbeiten für ohne titel (works for untitled), Miriam Bajtala reverses this process. Fictional series such as “improvisation mit zeugen, unerforschte zeitprobleme” (“improvisation with witnesses, unexplored time problems”) or “geschenkte keller mit fundament” (“donated basement with foundation”) serve the artist to create artworks exclusively in the form of titles such as “die sehnsucht war ein längenmaß” (“desire was a measure of length”) or “am boden liegend, sieht sie den himmel nicht” (“lying on the ground, she cannot see the sky”). The text and photo installation is presented in two different variants. The collector’s version shows the photographed images of the backs of the frames holding the photos. When the frame is turned round, the original appears: a typewritten text on a sheet of white paper. The artist version shows the originals in the form of sheets of paper with the texts written on them. Through the oscillation between artistic object and its visual and language-based representational form, the audience is faced with an offer full of expectation, an offer, however, that remains without visual fulfillment—and finally a linguistic sign.

Miriam Bajtala, Ohne Schatten: trigger | satellite me (2009)

Miriam Bajtala
Ohne Schatten: trigger and satellite me (2009) | Videos, 2:25 min and 3:56 min

The setting of both videos Ohne Schatten: trigger and satellite me by Miriam Bajtala is large room in the former Anker bakery in Vienna. A chalk circle eighteen meters in diameter is drawn on the floor and separated into fifty regular fragments which narrow towards the middle, where the actress Anna Mendelssohn sits in a rigid pose. The dramatic culmination is the lighting of a lighter in the actress’s hand. Whereas in Ohne Schatten: trigger Miriam Bajtala films the protagonist of the video from fifty different angles and brings the singular tracking shots in line with the marks towards the middle on the floor, the video images in satellite me are no longer linear in time but spatially structured with the help of a computer program. The five-second sequences—the fifty tracking shots to the middle of the circle, which are taken from the original video trigger—are re-arranged alongside individual frame lines. With her arrangements Miriam Bajtala creates containers for narration where the action shown becomes a variable. The artist constructs an open depository of looks, which she returns to the audience’s perception as supposed common property.

Biography — Miriam Bajtala, born 1970 in Bratislava, lives and works in Vienna | study at the Academy of Fine Arts (photography) and at the Universität of Music and Performative Arts (electroacoustics and experimental music) | exhibitions (selection): asymmetrical focus (Galerie Stadtpark, Krems 2009), Performance I (Fotogalerie, Vienna 2009), unORTnung V – Ankerbrotfabrik (Vienna 2009), Ohne Namen (Technisches Museum, Vienna 2009), Austria Contemporary (Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg 2008)

Nikolaus Gansterer, Mnemocity (Figures of Thought II – VI) (2005/2010)

Nikolaus Gansterer
Mnemocity (Figures of Thought II – VI) (2005/2010) | Paper, text, nylon, neon lamps

A meme, like a gene, does not purposely do or want anything—it is either replicated or it is not. Analogous to the gene, the so-called meme is a structure of ideas that is capable of reproducing autonomously. According to the theories of the biologist Richard Dawkins, Nikolaus Gansterer’s text installation Mnemocity (Figures of Thought II – VI) takes up the idea of a literally understood figure of thought, which is shaped out of modified text material. Scrappy text fragments, individual words and pieces of conversation are extracted from books and arranged into long strips of text. The rearrangement of linear books results in an organic-looking structure of knowledge, which is similar to an analog hypertext, while its substance is increasingly consolidated by the networked interplay of the elements of this complex library. With Mnemocity, Nikolaus Gansterer reveals the multidimensional topographies of language, which only continuously reproduce when they are received. The installation is supplemented by a lecture performance, which translates the text installation into drawing, a class where the process of realizing, thinking and denoting appears extremely concentrated. For the artist, the act of drawing is research in its classical form: one feels one’s way, experiments, always anew, step by step.

Biography — Nikolaus Gansterer, born 1974 in Klosterneuburg, lives and works in Vienna | study at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (transmedial art) and at the Jan van Eyck Academie Maastricht (postacademic studies) | member at the Institute for Transacoustic Research and of the Wiener Gemüseorchesters | exhibitions (selection): Bureau of Found Appropriations (Vooruit, Gent 2009), Mifan (Anni Art Gallery, Beijing 2009), The Stone Road (Argos, Brussels 2009), Quergeblickt (Technisches Museum, Vienna 2009), Am Sprung (OK – Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, Linz 2008)

Michael Kargl, a misunderstanding (2008-2010)

Michael Kargl
you, evidently, are a timewaster (2008-2010) | Installation, book, 210 pages (approx. 20 x 9 x 3 cm), edition of three copies

“In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes”—Andy Warhol’s vision of an increasingly media-driven star cult and the staging of everyday occurrences was the starting point for the call “Everyone will be famous for 150 kbytes”, which was published by a design platform on the internet. Michael Kargl’s you, evidently, are a timewaster is a documentation of an e-mail communication between him and the institution calling for submissions. His application comprised 200 monochrome white surfaces, automatically generated by a custom-built computer program and to be sent to the e-mail address given in the call. After only 57 deliveries, however, the proposed performance was harshly interrupted: “you, evidently, are a time waster” came the answer, which programmatically describes the production conditions of contemporary art in a media environment, closing with the words “don’t lose time anymore”. The unsuccessful participation in calls and the drafting of concepts to nowhere is an actual component of an artist’s daily routine. With you, evidently, are a timewaster, Michael Kargl elevates the process of submitting the artwork and its failure into the principle

Michael Kargl, objects of desire (2005-2008)

Michael Kargl
objects of desire (2005-2008) | Custom-made computer, shellscript

In brief succession a text sequence appears on the screen of a transparent object with, for an art audience, the promising title objects of desire: standard white typography on a black background, sentence for sentence, second for second, with a serial number for each restart, thus, a new artwork: “i am file number 1100”—“i am a unique piece of art”—“i was just created and will be gone in a few seconds.” The sentence sequence concludes with “you own me now until you forget about me”, in order to restart again shortly afterwards with “i am file number 1101.”. The basis of Michael Kargl’s work objects of desire is the question of the determining parameters for digital art, of its role in the art scene and—moreover—of the originality and authenticity of artistic works whose authorship is directly connected to the person of the author. Does one have to touch and own an artwork in order to be able to define it as such or does the serial number alone suffice to speak of an original: 1102, 1103, 1104? On a formal level, the custom-made computer—the transparent object (of desire)—contributes to the reflection on the transience of art.

Biography — Michael Kargl, born 1975 in Hall, lives and works in Vienna | study at the University Mozarteum Salzburg (sculpture) | exhibitions (selection): Übersetzung ist eine Form. | Translation is a mode. (Kunstraum Niederoesterreich, Vienna 2010), Quasi dasselbe…? Diskurse mit poetischer Funktion (Kunstpavillon, Innsbruck 2010), Interzone/Economy (Galerija Galzenica, Velika Gorica 2009), anti-bodies (Art & Social Technologies Research, Plymouth 2009)</a> (2006/2010)

Miriam Laussegger and Eva Beierheimer (2006/2010) and worte#25/installation/der/die betrachterIn interpretiert/2010 (2010) | Installation, website on server, air cushion foil, Internet workstation and word installation

Self-creation or self-preservation? The formal language of contemporary art seems to be indecipherable without its theoretical vocabulary, since the artwork is only ultimately shaped by the tool of language. Today, artists are forced to match this language and acquire text-related skills in order to be able to contextualize their work. Miriam Laussegger’s and Eva Beierheimer’s worte#25/installation/der/die betrachterIn interpretiert/2010 is based on a collection of around 3,500 specific technical terms from art magazines, catalogs, talks and lectures and is on display as a freely accessible text generator on the internet and as text installation in the exhibition. Under on the internet, users can select individual terms from a German and English word database, add own words, define their frequency and the number of sentences and finally generate an “individual” text. With respect to the spatial installation, the two artists assume the function of the generator. Only the interaction of the components of this hybrid determines its purpose: autopoiesis, or in the language of the generator: “Die Zeit-Raum-Sprachbezüge verknüpfen in diesem Regenwetter eine irreversible Formensprache mit einer Kunstmaschine”, (“In this rainy weather the time-, space-, language-references link an irreversible formal language with an art machine”) or: “Der/die AutorIn tituliert Texte durch eine versuchsweise Kunst.” (“The author gives texts titles by experimenting with art.”).

Biography — Eva Beierheimer, born 1979 in Graz, lives and works in Vienna and Stockholm/S | study at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (textual sculpture) | exhibitions (selection): art-words (HIT Gallery Bratislava 2010), worte (KroArt Gallery, Vienna 2009), in reference to… (Galleri Mejan, Stockholm 2009), Competition exhibition for the Styrian art price (Neue Galerie, Graz 2009), In Fragments, Ada Street Gallery, London 2008)

Biography — Miriam Laussegger, born 1980 in Vienna, lives and works in Vienna | study at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (textual sculpture) | exhibitions (selection): homebase (KroArt Gallery, Vienna 2010), Übersetzung ist eine Form. | Translation is a mode., (Kunstraum Niederösterreich, Vienna 2009), worte (KroArt Gallery, Vienna 2009), twilight zone – art hits design (Kunstraum Niederösterreich, Vienna 2009), Flavours of Austria (The Art Foundation, Athens 2009)

Jörg Piringer, wir alle (2001), vielleicht (2002), vorsprung (2004)

Jörg Piringer
wir alle (2001), vielleicht (2002) and vorsprung (2004) | Three videos, each 2 min

Language follows the rhythm of grammar, speaking that of sound: in the videos wir alle, vielleicht and vorsprung, Jörg Piringer generates abstract visual text compositions by means of concrete language-related manifestations and stages these in a flickering of black typography on a white background. The words are taken from text fragments from a politician (wir alle), declarations (vielleicht) and advertising (vorsprung). He combines the typeface of the words with their articulation and detaches the sense of the written and spoken words from its original medium in favor of image and sound. He extends the concept of the early literary avant-garde through the analysis of the evolutionary process of language and its meaning. The voice becomes the interface in a dynamic electronic context, which evolves on the spot as quickly as it dissolves again. The collection of animated letters and signs shown on the screen gradually seem to dissolve the language. The system of language, which has been constructed by social consensus, is reduced to the “arbitrariness of signs” (Ferdinand de Saussure). Similar to scientific experiments, Jörg Piringer creates experimental arrangements where he literally allows the particles of language to collide.

Biography — Jörg Piringer, born 1974 in Vienna, lives and works in Vienna | study of informatics at the Technical University of Vienna | member of the Institute for Transacoustic Research and of the Wiener Gemüseorchesters | exhibitions (selection): Wiener Gerücht. Das Private und das Öffentliche (eop, Emergence of Projects – Museum auf Abruf, Vienna 2009), Fluten 09. Work:Space (Wasserturm am Wienerberg, Vienna 2009), Im Prinzip, zeitbasiert (Fluc am Praterstern, Vienna 2009), ARTmART (Künstlerhaus, Vienna 2008), Entscheidungen sichtbar machen (eop, Emergence of Projects – Museum auf Abruf, Vienna 2008), You own me now until you forget about me. (Mala Galerija/Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana 2008)

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