• 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


Heimrad Bäcker

Heimrad Bäcker’s photographs document his lifelong practice of critical reflection on National Socialism and the Shoah. From the late 1960s until the 1990s, he scoured the ruins and landscapes of the Mauthausen, Gusen, and St. Georgen concentration camps and took thousands of shots of details: traces of forced labor left in granite, intact but inert cooling machinery, twisted nails protruding from overgrown walls, and outlines of long-gone buildings’ foundations. He also photographed television documentaries about the Shoah, isolating single frames just as he isolated small and apparently insignificant remnants on the camps’ grounds. Although he photographed other subjects – for instance, in his series “Referendum,” which captured political graffiti and posters during the 1974 referendum on divorce in Italy – his primary interest was the damage wrought by Nazism. Study of Bäcker’s archive shows how he returned again and again to a limited number of motifs – perhaps two hundred – that came to emblematize the Shoah in his works.
Bäcker’s documentary practice is inflected by his knowledge of the history of philosophy as well as by his engagement, as a writer and editor, with contemporary art and literature. He received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Vienna; he published seven books of poetry; he was an active member of the Linz artists’ and writers’ collective MAERZ; and he ran the journal “neue texte” and the publishing house “edition neue texte,” which included texts and artworks by key figures in the Austrian and international avant-garde. In his use of seriality (in his multiframe compositions), abstraction, and appropriation, and in his focus on base materials (concrete, granite, wood, soil, underbrush), Bäcker’s works respond to concretism, minimalism, arte povera, and conceptualism. But his relentless attention to the Shoah distinguishes him from his contemporaries and makes of his photographic oeuvre a singular site for considering the critical force of the avant-garde.



1925, Wien / AT – 2003, Linz / AT

Bäcker was an author of poetry, a photographer and the editor of “neue texte” (1968-1991) and “edition neue texte” (1976-1991). In the late 1940s Bäcker began his investigation of National Socialism and the Shoah. In his notes he wrote: “There is no other anthropology of fascist/terrorist systems except the analysis of their language.” The author named his working technique “System nachschrift”, which means the system of writing-after. Bäcker’s first collection of works “transcript” was published in German in 1968.


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