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25 Oct – 14 Dec 2013
S/HE IS THE ONE

KUNSTRAUM NIEDEROESTERREICH, Vienna (A)

Curator: Ursula Maria Probst
Loans by Kontakt: VALIE EXPORT, Sanja Ivekovic


Press Release

The exhibition S/HE IS THE ONE rounds off the Kunstraum Niederoesterreich’s year
focusing on performance. Curated by Ursula Maria Probst, the exhibition is concerned with contemporary, performative artistic methods and the logic of their works, embodiment and doing-gender strategies in contrast to avant-garde, feminist positions of performance art.

Among other things the artists involved address questions such as how much space is
accorded to historic positions such as those of Ana Mendieta, Sanja Ivekovic, Martha Wilson, Renate Bertlmann or VALIE EXPORT in performance art today and how aspects of form and content of continuity and discontinuity relate to one another within performance art.

Another starting point is formed by considerations on the form in which different strategies of appropriation, deconstruction, reformulation, transposition, interperformity, of body-material interactions or linguistic and media translation are used in performance art today.

The performance as an art form that emphasises situation and action is marked by its
increasing presence as the supreme discipline of contemporary curating culture in festivals, biennials, in museums and theatres. It promises the possibility of producing a different public or even a different reality. In contrast to the Actionist artists of the 60s and 70s, who employed their own bodies as artistic material in order to demand a change of realities and power relationships free of dramaturgic stylistic means, performers today do not distance themselves from dance or theatre but incorporate choreographic elements.

In their performance "Jeux d’eau", Julia Danzinger and Serena Lee, for example, concern themselves with the embodiment of crisis. Individual aspects and elements of crisis are worked out as to-do lists that can be portrayed by gesture or sound. Crisis is thus made physically understandable. In Bernadette Anzengruber’s performative installation a promise is made: "We’ll make it".

A focus of the exhibition is the attempt to clearly link the discourse field and theory formation of the performative with current performative practice. S/HE IS THE ONE thus connects the exhibition section with a performative section. As a result the exhibition also raises the question of the approach to different media in the context of performative art production. The legendary video performance Premiere by the feminist artist Martha Wilson turns into a manifesto-like lecture and to an introduction to the exhibition. In 1976, Martha Wilson founded the Franklin Furnace in New York, an artist-run space dedicated to the research and archiving of video and performance art. Wilson used this to address the long-standing institutional neglect of performance art. The Mumok in Vienna has so far also neglected to purchase the archive on the "Mothers of Invention" put together by Carola Dertnig and Stefanie Seibold.

While the artists of the 60s and 70s used performance to distance themselves from the historically defined genres of painting and sculpture, or extended the definitions of the term through the use of their own bodies, today a use of different media is emerging according to the individual artistic logic of the work. At the same time, intersections are emerging that open up possibilities for the re-evaluation of other media (installation, music video etc.) in the performance context. For the video performance "Less Point More Cornerstone", for example, Suzie Léger translates Franz Kaltenbeck’s 70s art-theory text "Das Kriterium der Avantgarde" into a classic pop song, which is interpreted and musically accompanied by seven performers. Léger thereby creates a new context for the reading of Kaltenbeck’s manifesto.

Even if a tendency to multi-media can be observed in performance today, nevertheless the individual body, the body of the performer or others involved in the performance frequently remains an essential means of expression today. A certain immediacy, a directness through the physicality in the performance encourages contact with the audience and at the same time raises the question of authorship.

Ultimately S/HE IS THE ONE goes into the question of the extent to which the present-day conception of performance is socio-politically relevant and involved in the creation of new living spaces and worlds. As a result the exhibition also involves an analysis of the concepts of doing gender, queer studies and feminist theory that are partly applied by the artists. The video installation "Gentle Men" by Mathilde ter Heijne and Amy Patton concerns itself with the portrayal of masculinity. Men are sought by advertisements and invited not for example to have their erect penis but their testicles depicted. The work thereby throws a light on male physicality, which, instead of potency, conveys fragility, creativity, sensitivity and vulnerability. Like hardly any other art form, performance art manages to be simultaneously accessible to an audience and at the same time to convey challenging ideas. The exhibition S/HE IS THE ONE explores the possibility of performance today and thereby the maximum potential of a situation in the widest sense of the word.

The longstanding project "The Making of Hans" by Hans Scheirl makes the process of “(performative) trans- . . . gendering” (and consequently of “queering”) visible through the use of diverse media (painting, drawing, performance, music and sound, film and video, text, photography, objects) and also highlights the genres and styles of these media. On the work of Katrina Daschner, which in her current projects concerns itself intensively with burlesque, Catrin Seefranz writes: “The secret of burlesque is in successful timing: the precision in the dialectical performance of excessive showing and simultaneous hiding, suggestionand delaying as well as affirming and differentiating sexualised codes and gestures.” With her clear positioning with regard to the power relationships of identity and sex, Katrina Daschner is regarded as an important protagonist of the redefinition of queerness.

The poster for the exhibition uses a series of photos by Anja Manfredi from 2010. In Renate Bertlmann and Katrina Daschner it shows two performance artists of different generations in a powerfully rebellious and self-determined pose, poised to attack. Renate Bertlmann is holding a slingshot in the form of a double penis with a vibrator shape, which she used as a firearm in her performance "sling shot action" to attack the sex dolls Adam and Eve. Katrina Daschner swings into action with a microphone. Since the 90s, artists have been attempting to free themselves from stigmatisation through feminism or gender theories and their suspicions of ideological doggedness. In their place came the demand for political ability to act and for a commitment that starts with changing oneself.

Artists in the exhibition: Bernadette Anzengruber, Elke Auer/Esther Straganz, Renate Bertlmann, Katrina Daschner, Carola Dertnig, VALIE EXPORT, Female Obsession, Nilbar Güres, Sanja Ivekovic, Suzie Léger, Roberta Lima, Anja Manfredi, Ursula Mayer, Ana Mendieta, Lilo Nein, Susanne Richter, Hans Scheirl, Toni Schmale, Saskia Te Nicklin, Mathilde ter Heijne/ Amy Patton, Martha Wilson

Performing artists: Anna Ceeh/Iv Toshain, Julia Danzinger/Serena Lee, Iris Dittler, Fanni Futterknecht, Christina Gillinger, Veronika Hauer/Nicole Miltner

http://www.kunstraum.net/de/programm/132-s-he-is-the-one