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Magazin 4 / Bregenzer Kunstverein, Bregenz
12 March 2010 - 16 May 2010
The exhibition “masque” at Bregenzer Kunstverein examined wide-ranging formats and strategies of masking and unmasking the Self. This can be seen particularly in those works from the Kontakt Art Collection that center on questions of the Self and the Other within the altered and changing political geographies of European territory since the second half of the twentieth century. The historical section looks at works involving politically activist, performative and gender-oriented approaches, as well as their representation in the public sphere. The primary focus of this exhibition was on conceptual and neo-avant-garde art from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as on representations of the Self in art created under communist regimes and in the subsequent post-socialist situation, representations which must be regarded as direct political statements within their respective national and political contexts. Many of these countries exerted control over individual artistic articulations of the Self, since these broke with the state monopoly on image production and constituted a potential threat to the system. Manipulation, imitation, withdrawal, transfer, camouflage or costuming—in various combinations, such techniques of resistance and their attendant masking served as representations of artistic subjectivity in a politically dominant and homogenized paradigm. Direct realism does not seem to have been an option: most of the works employ indirect language or nuanced rhetorical means of reinterpreting, constructing and staging complex subject positions, serving as a point of departure for an emancipatory theater of the repressed that is deployed mainly via photography and video. As an additional component, this showing included contrary positions not covered by Kontakt such as a video work, “Ministrel”, and the accompanying photographs by Anna Niesterowicz and Lukasz Gutt: they depict a band and its members performing Frank Sinatra’s popular song “Fly Me to the Moon” for a Polish radio concert—but all the musicians’ faces are painted black.

Curated by Adam Szymczyk, Director of Kunsthalle Basel and member of the Art Advisory Committee of Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group

With: Pawel Althamer, VALIE EXPORT, Tomislav Gotovac, Ion Grigorescu, Tibor Hajas, Sanja Ivekovic, Edward Krasinski, Anna Niesterowicz & Lukasz Gutt, Cora Pongracz, Hans Scheirl, Katerina Šedá, Sven Stilinovic, Artur Zmijewski

Magazin4 – Bregenzer Kunstverein
Bergmannstraße 6, 6900 Bregenz, Austria

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  • Photo Ivica Hripko

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