• Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb)
    20 September – 11 November 2017

    The Showroom (63 Penfold St, Marylebone, London NW8 8PQ, UK) Curated by: What, How & for Whom/WHW, in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg, co-curated by Emily Pethick Preview: Tuesday 19 September, 6.30–8.30pm Exhibition opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12–6pm The Showroom presents the epilogue of a long-term project which took place over several months in Zagreb (November 2016 to May 2017), which contextualised and rethought the Kontakt Art Collection. It was curated by What, How & for Whom/WHW in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg. This final exhibition is co-curated by The Showroom Director Emily Pethick. Taking selected works from the Vienna-based Kontakt Art Collection as its point of departure, including seminal pieces by some of the most prominent artists from Central, Eastern and South-East Europe since the 1960s, the exhibition stages an interplay between these and other historical, contemporary and newly produced works that interpret and critically examine the collection. The project unfolded in six episodes in Zagreb, each iteration influencing, contradicting and reinforcing each other. It took place in a number of smaller art spaces, artists' studios, private apartments and other locations related to artistic production and the broader cultural landscape of the city. This final stage of the project at The Showroom continues to reframe and expand the context of the collection. Interlacing geographically and poetically heterogeneous artist practices, the project attempts to punctuate standardized presentations and interpretations of works that have dominated international art circuits over the last few decades, with more disorderly and experimental arrangements. The project title is taken from a work by Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016), to whom the project is dedicated. Stilinović's life-long anti-systemic approach, his quiet but shrewd rebellion against social conventions and the conventions of art, and an artistic practice that trenchantly and humorously engages with complex themes of ideology, work, money, pain and poverty, inspired a generation of artists worldwide. The project is a cooperation with Kontakt Art Collection and is supported by Erste Group Bank AG and ERSTE Foundation.


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Manfred Willmann

Even in early works created during the 1970s, the image compositions of Austrian photographic artist Manfred Willmann see a convergence of the most diverse formal and methodological vectors of New Photography, which was just in the process of emancipating itself as an artistic genre. What would later come to characterize Willmann’s photographic language in his large or central series such as “Schwarz und Gold” [Black and Gold] and “Das Land” [The Country]—the fixation of the complex, interwoven and often parallel pictorial narratives in realistic, report-like or snapshot-like particles, of which each introduces its own temporality; a changeable, variously interrupted, excerpt-like reality which must constantly be constructed and reconstructed—can already be seen in his large self-portrait of 1972, as well as in his “Kontaktportraits” [Contact Portraits]. Both of these are more than just rare and early Austrian works of conceptual photography. By combining a conceptual interest in material aspects of photography with the author’s subjective, psychologizing stance, they point beyond the frame of the conceptual. In the works which followed shortly thereafter such as “Schwarz und Gold” [Black and Gold] and “Für Christine” [For Christine], Willmann leaves behind the formalisms of his conceptual years, and his eye for photography’s materiality begins to connect with the wider world, doing so with a nearly insatiable interest in both bodily and embodied knowledge, as well as in knowledge which has become a body. But this turn toward a new sensuousness, which seems almost like a rejection of conceptual photography’s universalizing claims to abstraction, is in reality their consistent intellectual continuation: Willmann is interested in the concept’s distortion, in what a conceptual view of surfaces and situations can unleash. To this day, his works are almost exclusively bundled into series and work groups. Their themes give rise within them to geographies of the everyday—but their gaze upon people, as well as upon the ephemeral, upon the gestural and upon the secret life of objects, employs discrete elements as if they were strategically selected much like one would select unstable, time-resistant arrangements and excerpts of a larger, absent reality. It his alertness to the concrete’s potential to become abstract by being captured and affixed in photography which makes Manfred Willmann’s oeuvre so rich.



Born in Graz, Austria, 1952.

Willmann studied Advertising Art at the HTBL in Graz (Austria) from 1970 to 1971. He works as freelance artist, winemaker, and lecturer. Furthermore Willmann is the founder (1980) and publisher of CAMERA AUSTRIA International. He has received several awards, including the „Würdigungspreis für künstlerische Fotografie“ in 1993, the „Kulturpreis der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie“ in 1994, and the „Staatspreis für künstlerische Fotografie“ in 2009.

Lives and works in Graz, Austria.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2011     “La Tara / Das Land", Muzeul Taranului Roman, Bucharest, Romania

2009     “Das Land”, (with Seiichi Furuya), Osaka Castle, Osaka, Japan

2006     “Manfred Willmann, DAS LAND”, PhotoEspana, Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, Spain

2005     “Manfred Willmann, WERKBLICK", Retrospektive, Neue Galerie Graz, Graz, Austria

2004     “Oman”, Galerie Bleich-Rossi, Graz, Austria

2003     “Manfred Willmann”, Vienna Secession, Vienna, Austria 

2002     “Japanese Food”, Minima Gallery, Zagreb, Croatia

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2017     "Facing Austria", Salzburg Museum, Salzburg, Austria

2012     “Röcke tragen. Die Inszenierung von Kleidung in der zeitgenössischen Fotografie und Plastik“, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria

2011     “Vermessung der Welt. Heterotopien und Wissensräume in der Kunst“, Kunsthaus Graz, Graz, Austria

2010     “FOUND-Wanted. KünstlerInnen der Steiermark“, Kon-temporär Gallery, Graz, Austria

2009     “In Search of Likeness. Portraits Through the Years”, Kunsthalle Krems, Krems, Austria

2008     “Die Kunst der Landwirtschaft“, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck, Austria

2007     “21 Positions“, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, New York City, USA

2006     “Why Pictures Now? Fotografie, Film, Video heute“, MUMOK Museum Moderner Kunst Sammlung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria

2005     “The Drifter - The Dreamer”, TENT Centrum beeldende Kunst, Rotterdam, Netherlands

2004     “Land – Landschaft“, Österreichisches Kulturforum Prag, Prag, Czech Republic

2003     “Einbildung. Das Wahrnehmen in der Kunst“, Kunsthaus Graz, Graz, Austria

2002     “Augenblick“, Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria

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

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Thun-Hohenstein, Christoph, ed. 2007. 21 Positions: [of seeing others and ourselves]. Curated by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein. Vienna: Visual concept & Design [Exhib. Cat., Austrian Cultural Forum New York (May 15-Aug. 25, 2007)]


Pakesch, Peter, ed. 2005. Manfred Willmann: Werkblick. Engl./Germ. Curated by Peter Pakesch. Cologne: Walther König [Exhib. Cat., Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum Graz (Sep. 24-Nov. 1, 2005)]


Frank, Rike, ed. 2003. Manfred Willmann. Engl./Germ. Vienna: Secession [Exhib. Cat., Secession Vienna (Feb. 27-Apr. 27, 2003)]

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