• WHO WAS 1968?
    28 Sept 2018 − 13 Jan 2019

    LENTOS Kunstmuseum WHO WAS 1968? Art, Architecture, Society Curated by: Hedwig Saxenhuber, Georg Schöllhammer Loans by Kontakt from: Heimrad Bäcker, Stanisław Dróżdż, VALIE EXPORT, Stano Filko, Běla Kolářová, Július Koller, Natalia LL, Karel Miler, Petr Štembera, Raša Todosijević and Goran Trbuljak A decade of eruptions, departures and redefinitions in the steel city Linz. The year I968 marks a turning point that ushered in a new era. Across Western Europe and in the United States Student protests and workers’ revolts called into question the post-war power structure itself, while Soviet tanks bulldozed the Prague Spring into the ground and signalled the end of the hope that the Eastern Bloc would open up to the West. This exhibition harks back to the echoes of I968 in Linz and Upper Austria. Embracing the arts, architecture, music, film and literature, it unfolds for the first time a synoptic map on which key figures and moments of local history – some largely unknown to this day – are accorded a place. It enables visitors to embark on exploratory trips and to survey the rich fabric of relationships and linkages that includes points of contact with international scenarios and trends. Experiments in the aesthetic field were begun with a view to escaping from the cultural stuffiness of the first two post-war decades. The participating artists include: Claudia von Alemann, Ant Farm, Heimrad Bäcker, Josef Bauer, Bill Bollinger, Dietmar Brehm, Gerd Conradt, Waltraut Cooper, Stanisław Dróżdż, Erró, VALIE EXPORT, Harun Farocki, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Stano Filko, Helmuth Gsöllpointner, Timo Huber, Johann Jascha, Martha Jungwirth, Gülsün Karamustafa, Gerhard Knogler, Běla Kolářová, Juliús Koller, Peter Kubelka, Zofia Kulik, KwieKulik, Maria Lassnig, Fritz Lichtenauer, Natalia LL, Karel Miler, Josef Nöbauer, OHO, Yoko Ono, Gina Pane, Friederike Pezold, Cora Pongracz, Chris Reinecke, Martha Rosler, Dieter Roth, Zorka Sàglovà, Dominik Steiger, Petr Štembera, Raša Todosijević, Goran Trbuljak, Tucumàn Arde, Jiřì Valoch, Agnés Varda, Peter Weibel, Hannah Wilke, Jana Želibská, Želimir Žilnik, Zünd-Up



Most projects by Mona Vǎtǎmanu and Florin Tudor read both as case studies—critical visualizations of or material interventions into contemporary equations of labor and value, ownership and dispossession, ideology and unrest—and as intricately coded allegories of economic war or environmental devastation. The pyramidal world map being pushed, shoved, and incinerated in their film The Order of Things condenses a reflection on geographic objectivity and the “striations” produced by economic value. Footage of children setting fire to the thick piles of poplar fluff that litter the streets of Bucharest during spring functions as a negative image of rejuvenation, as a stand-in for owned property—which is experienced only as destruction by those who own nothing. This game, the object of which is to obliterate the quasi-immateriality of poplar spores and reveal the nothingness that they temporarily concealed, functions as an extension beyond the specific history and circumstances of the filming location and into the dialectic of value and valuelessness: other projects, such as ingots made of rust, literally conflate the signifiers of worth and expenditure. And the industrial venom that has drenched the valleys near the Romanian town of Rosia Montanǎ, preparing the ground for an ecologically cataclysmic gold extraction project and forcing the population into an upward migration towards the mountaintops and away from submerged villages, lends the static shots in their All That Is Solid Melts Into Air a dream-like quality that is accentuated by these images’ synchronization with a reading of the “Revelation of St. John,” the Bible's final chapter. This text enters into a peculiar relationship with the despoiled landscape—word and image alternate in relation to each other, exchanging the functions of figure and ground: apocalyptic prophecy profiled against devastated habitat, or figures of devastation profiled against the post-historical horizon of the “Revelation.” A roughly similar destabilization of the tandem between soundtrack and image can be observed in their earlier film The Trial, in which the transcript of the mock legal proceedings that led to the 1989 execution of communist president Nicolae Ceauşescu—a text that, in its dizzying circumlocutions, functioned as the founding document and hazy cornerstone of the democracy to which Romania endlessly transitions—is monotonously recited against the backdrop of communist urbanism’s endless façade of apartment blocks, appearing here as barriers to political agency rather than as walls delimiting habitation and privacy. Sowing seeds for bread on a desolate plot of land that bears the remnants of an industrial complex and looks strangely like an abstract battlefield effects a metaphorical reversal of the course of vegetal growth and social healing. This piece, The Wreck of the Earth, is the poignant archaeology of a convulsed landscape onto which human presence seems to imprint itself only as detritus and obstacle. Symbols of space pitting cosmological imagination against the partitions that structure the “here and now” of neoliberal times, as well as temporal and topographic divides collapsed in dysfunctional systems of measuring the contemporary experience, also feature prominently in the artists’ installation works, which often suggest the function of idiosyncratic, “‘bipolar” maps or other tools for a disoriented sort of navigation. As suggested by this enumeration of visual and conceptual strategies, Vǎtǎmanu and Tudor’s practice meanders in and out of a singular modus operandi, one that inspects the fractures and disparities that articulate a political topography, the forms and modes of enunciation that animate the conflicted histories of the contemporary.



Florin Tudor

1974, Genève / CH

Mona Vătămanu

1968, Constanta / RO

Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor collaborate since 2000. Their artistic practice spans diverse media, including film, photography, painting, performance, and site-specific projects. Their residencies include the BAK’s Research-in-Residence program in Utrecht (the Netherlands) 2009; FRAC Nord – Pas de Calais, Dunkerque (France) 2008; and the Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (Poland) 2008. Vătămanu and Tudor also participate regularly in numerous festivals, screening programs, and curatorial projects.


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