• Ashley Hans Scheirl. Genital Economy Posing
    05 May − 21 June 2018

    Künstlerhaus Graz Ashley Hans Scheirl. Genital Economy Posing Curated by: Sandro Droschl Loans by Kontakt: Ashley Hans Scheirl: Numbered, 2016 Hans Scheirl - Films: Artistin in der Zirkuskuppel, 1979; Men & Masks, 1980; Tigerin, 1981; Hände Hoch!, 1979; ein erster lebensmittelfilm, 1979; Straßenbilder, 1979 05/05/18 –  21/06/18 In Ashley Hans Scheirl’s “life art,” questioning social norms and relationships and developing one’s approach to one’s own identity and sexuality are at the center of her often multimedia works. The intertwining of biography and art, the question of one’s own identity, crossing boundaries of gender and genre are options. Scheirl, who is, by her own account, a “trans(-media, -genre, -gender) artist,” deftly changes between formats from painting, drawing, sculpture, film, video, and performance without admitting of specific classifications. For her largest solo exhibition in an institution thus far, at the Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien in Graz, Ashley Hans Scheirl (b. 1956 in Salzburg, lives in Vienna) is presenting a coherent selection of existing works and a new complex of works based in part on site-specific paintings and objects produced for this exhibition. The artist, who achieved great international fame already in the late 1980s through her experimental film and video works and recently had a well-regarded presence at Documenta 14 in Kassel, had been increasingly dedicated in recent years to painting once again, which is here presented in an almost performative foray through “trans-media.” In a spacious setting custom designed with the artist Jakob Lena Knebel, Scheirl leads the audience through her diverse artistic oeuvre on a kind of tour along several floors, forming a continuous narrative with powerful images and precise statements. A red carpet leads from the foyer of the exhibition space to the main room and up the walls. Large-scale paintings based on earlier collages of digital photographs and painted work are placed as if in an installation. Sculptural elements hang from the ceiling; texts and other elements loom into the space. On the platform at the center of the exhibition space, which is at once a walk-in painting, stage, and film set, Scheirl will present for the exhibition opening a “live art performance” in which the artist appears as a “prince of painters” and speak to the audience. The performances will be recorded on video and then shown in the exhibition. For Scheirl, this work is about the “artist’s personality as a role model within ‘biocapitalism’: vitalism, creativity, and flexibility have become the prerequisites for the neoliberal society.” A display produced by Scheirl in a side room of the exhibition will present a generous selection of older drawings by the artist, some being shown for the first time. Numerous films and videos from various phases of Scheirl’s production will be shown in the apse of the Künstlerhaus. The drawings and videos repeatedly reveal cross-connections to the artist’s current and performative works. The very titles of Scheirl’s works, such as “The Alchemy of Libidinal Currencies,” “Corporate Castration” or “Öl, Gold, Eier” (Oil, Gold, Balls), indicate that they are about bringing together realms that merely seem far apart: on the one hand, the world of desire and of the construction of (gender) identity and, on the other hand, the world of economic interests and global capitalism. The separation of the interior and the exterior world, the private and the public sphere, male and female, and the subject and capitalism is revealed to be an ideological construction, which lately has intensified around questions of identity. With reference to the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard one might say that the experience and production of reality—and hence all power relationships—are colored and fueled by a libidinal passion, a “libidinal economy.” This system of order/disorder circulating back to itself, which has to be produced anew again and again, regulates both the energy of the currents of desire and the pulse of the resistance to desire as well as the energy that is obtained when desire is deferred and hence translated to another “medium” and to another temporal system. Scheirl seems to employ at best these transitive forces, intensities and affects that drive us on primally deliberately as a motivation and to translate the dis/order built up in the course of their artistic and profoundly subjective development into “images and languages of desire,” and in that sense indeed represent circulating and transmedia works. In Graz, Scheirl continues this successive expansion and translation of questions of identity, body, and art: “In the exhibition I want to overlap the circulation of my body parts with the circulation of the media employed.” Having grown up as Angela, she decided on her fortieth birthday to take testosterone and call herself Hans. As a criticism of current attributions of identity and corresponding discourses, Scheirl recently used her sixtieth birthday as an opportunity to adopt the first name Ashley. Without trying to go from A to B, Scheirl chose the (anti)identity “transgender.” This “trans-”identity is anticipated by the name, voice, and the constant undermining of the clear assignment of gender through language—and its images. Ashley Hans Scheirl (b. 1956 in Salzburg, lives in Vienna) studied restoration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (diploma, 1980). From 1978 to 1985, she was involved in performative experiments with music and noise such as “8 oder 9” and “Ungünstige Vorzeichen” (Unfortunate Key Signature). From 1979 to 1996, she produced around fifty Super-8 short films. In 1981–82 Scheirl lived in New York and worked for Arleen Schloss’s off-Space “Wednesdays at A's.” Scheirl became famous for the two avant-garde feature films “Rote Ohren fetzen durch Asche” (Red Ears Tear through Ashes) and “Dandy Dust.” Scheirl spent sixteen years in London, where she took part in the scene of queer and transgender artists. In 2003 completion postgraduate studies (MA) in the visual arts (painting/installation) at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. After returning to Vienna in 2005, receiving of the Austrian state scholarship for the visual arts in 2006. Since the autumn of 2006 Scheirl has been professor of “contextual painting” at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Scheirl’s works have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf / KIT, the Taxispalais Kunsthalle Tirol, the Kunsthaus Bregenz, MUSA Museum Startgalerie Artothek in Vienna, the Shedhalle in Zurich, the Nova Galerija Zagreb, MACBA Museu d/Art Contemporani de Barcelona, and the Museum of Modern Art Vienna as well as recently in Documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens. The exhibition will be accompanied by a supporting program, essays on the Künstlerhaus’s online publication platform ( and by a catalog produced in collaboration with the Salzburger Kunstverein with support from the Kontakt. Art Collection – Erste Group / ERSTE Foundation.”


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Petr Štembera

Petr Štembera is among the key Czech performance artists of the 1970s. He was one of the leading figures of the Prague body art circle and from 1970 mediated contact with important performance art representatives both in the West and in Eastern Bloc countries.

In the early 1970s, Štembera’s interest in extreme physical and psychological experiences led to extreme body art pieces that he began to document in the manner customary in American body art: a black-and-white photography with a short description – a report on when and where it happened. Štembera’s first performances took place in nature and a number of later pieces dealt with the relationship between the human body and a natural entity, such as “Štěpování“ (Grafting) (1975) when Štembera grafted a bush sprig into his arm in a way common in arboriculture, or in “Spaní na stomě” (Sleeping in a tree) (1975) when, after three sleepless nights, he spent the fourth night in a tree.

Štembera’s early work is still in the artist’s self-searching phase and only arose within the closed circle of his fellow-artists Karel Miler and Jan Mlčoch. Only later did Štembera’s body as a subject of inner experience become for him an object and instrument at the same time.  This is very apparent from the time when the Prague body-art trio conducted their performances before small audiences. It was at these “evening performances" secretly held at various places that Štembera conducted a number of extreme body art performances in which he exposed his body and sometimes even the viewers to danger. Štembera’s courage supplemented by skills learned from yoga enabled him to undertake very demanding performances. Their excruciating nature and symbolism strongly resonated with the “normalization” years in Czechoslovakia following the Soviet occupation.

Like Karel Miler and Jan Mlčoch, Štembera decided to stop his performance activities in the late 1970s. This was due to a feeling of exhaustion, but also a feeling of awkwardness to carry out artificially risky acts in light of the real perils faced by those involved in the Charter 77. Štembera’s interest in other psychophysical activities, such as oriental martial arts, also played a role.


1945, Plzeň / CZ, at that time ČSSR

Štembera, originally a painter, started performing actions in 1971. They mainly took place in Prague (Czech Republic), but also in other European countries as well as in the USA. Together with fellow artists Jan Mlčoch and Karel Miler he organized and performed actions from about 1970 to about 1980. At the beginning of the 1980s all three stopped performing and afterwards became curators.

Lives and works in Prague, Czech Republic.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

1980     “Petr Štembera”, Papala Gallery, Karlsruhe, Germany

1977     “Petr Štembera”, ANA galleria Oppera, Genoa, Italy

1976     “Petr Štembera”, Studio 16/e, Turin, Italy

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2011     “Museum of Parallel Narratives. In the framework of L’Internationale”, MACBA Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

2009     “Subversive Praktiken - Kunst unter Bedingungen politischer Repression“, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany         

2007     Prague Biennale 3, Prague, Czech Republic

2005     “Support 3. Fluxus, Happening, Konzeptkunst“, Neue Galerie Graz, Graz, Austria

2004     “Kurze Karrieren”, MUMOK Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria

2002     “Corps et traces”, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, France

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Neuburger, Susanne, Saxenhuber, Hedwig, eds. 2004. Kurze Karrieren: Stephen Kaltenbach, Christine Kozlov, Lee Lozano, Konrad Lueg, Karel Miler, Jan Mlčoch, Hilka Nordhausen, OHO, Verena Pfisterer, Charlotte Posenenske, Petr Štembera, Goran Trbuljak. Cologne: König [Exhib. Cat., Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (May 20-Aug. 1, 2004)]


Karel Miler, Petr Štembera, Jan Mlčoch: 1970-1980. 1997. Curated by Karel Srp. Prague: Galerie Hlavního Mesta.

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