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Kunstverein Medienturm
Josefigasse 1, 8020 Graz

Markus Huemer precisely analyses the fact that art always has been produced and transported via media, whereas his interest lies in a conceptual handling of material and the execution of the conditions of art. This consideration refers to proper icons of (abstract) painting (inter alia Sigmar Polke, Mark Rothko, Blinky Palermo), whose approaches are questioned and enhanced by means of various techniques, in order to finally obtain again paintings in idealizedreduced settings. Here, a decided contemplation of the respective surrounding space becomes important. Huemer actively picks up questions of the auratized “white cube”, in order to face it with the “black box” as media-historical response.

Not only in times of an increased interest in reformulations of modernist principles, the question of the exhibition space where artworks are presented and which reacts upon those, remains crucial. Through its reduction to a subordinate, general framework, the void, exclusive “white cube” can be understood as a surprisingly constant factor within the exhibition context, which is mostly retained in spite of all legitimate criticism, regarding the support of an autonomous art position. Compared to the sitespecific, constructional conditions of Brian O’Doherty’s seemingly preferred history-charged space in “Inside the White Cube“, the contexts of the exhibition’s topic, the choice of material, the positioning within an art scene and at best the surrounding urban structure react upon the artwork and observer to a stronger extent. Through the sustained discussion, triggered by O’Doherty, the critique towards the modernist, auratized “white cube” has meanwhile developed to a history-charged sign, which has referred to the “icon white cube” and perhaps has led to a further sensitization, when handling the spatial and site-specific conditions of art.
In his longtime discussions around the conditions of art, Huemer goes back to the questions that were debated in the course of this discourse, in order to face them with the changed assumptions of mediality in art production and art reception. In the frame of increasingly upcoming video- and film-related artworks, individual video boxes were established in many exhibition contexts mostly described as “black boxes”. Huemer positions the “black box” as contemporary response to the “white cube”, in order to charge it medially and in an auratized approach.

The experiment with different forms of site-specific conditions of art becomes particularly evident in the solo show MEINE ERSTE GELUNGENE AUSSTELLUNG (“My First Successful Exhibition”). Eight, square or rectangular wooden boxes of different size are arranged across two exhibition spaces, painted in white – a loose array as floor and wall objects. All objects are labelled “black box” and do not disclose their inside, thus not reveal the inner space that is painted in black. Through “Hasty working”, in the form of colour traces on the outside – hinting towards the fact that the artist actually is painter – one can guess of what colour the inner surface is. Huemer likes to make references himself: “the objects are scaled down, ironical exhibition spaces, whereas I assume that the void, black exhibition space corresponds to the ideal, painted image space thus to ‘pure painting’”.
In another work within the exhibition “Finally the Images then still Fade away Next to You”, the observer enters a space that is completely painted in black – a perfect “black box”, which, in its arcane totality, produces a frightening impression. The observer looses all orientation within the complete darkness and it becomes impossible for him to adhere to a visual reference point. Only the buzzing of a beamer can be heard, categorizing the space as one that is potentially related to film. Through the pervasive darkness, Huemer’s artwork virtually becomes a haptic experience; the observer enters a medially contextualized environment, an immersive, borderless, monochrome “colourfield painting”, which seems to be deprived of all light. The space loses its depth effect, it aligns alongside its configuration. The “black box” reveals as all-around folded colour space which exponentiates itself in its arcane monstrousness. Huemer links “new media” with “traditional media” by revealing and coupling their conditions, in order to indicate occult continuities and potential alignments within the interpretation and enhancement of denoted, modernist concepts.

Markus Huemer

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Markus Huemer, Meine erste gelungene Ausstellung, 2005. Installation. View Kunstverein Medienturm, Graz, 2005.