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  [SKULPTUR. Helmut Mark]

Kunstverein Medienturm
Josefigasse 1, 8020 Graz

Tue - Fri 14.00 - 18.00
Sat 10.00 - 14.00

06.03.2008 7 p.m.

Artist talk:
12.04.2008, 4 p.m., Helmut Mark, Reinhard Braun

Curator-led tours:
13.04., 1 p.m., Adam Budak
26.04., 11 a.m., Reinhard Braun
In 1963, Henry Flint and Jack Smith protested against the codification of art and culture by the museum institution in an action outside the Museum of Modern Art in New York, with the slogans “Demolish Art Museums” and “Demolish Serious Culture.” This codification pertains not only to the concept of art itself, as defined and perpetuated by museum-related collecting and exhibiting activities (art as a fetishized and well-nigh sacralized object), but also to the way in which this concept of art is employed to represent society and culture on the whole in the form of very specific values. Now one might suppose that this debate—having, in the aforementioned action, become a topic of politicized art in the 1960s and 1970s—was settled long ago, not least in view of the “attacks” formulated and carried out by concept art, Intermedia, Fluxus, video and media art on the art object.

Helmut Mark became well-known in the 1980s for his video sculptures, having critically actualized the question of the role of artistic practices and their traditional forms—painting and sculpture—within the extensive debates on the influence of new media on society. If you will, the examination of objectivity can be found relatively consistently in his artistic practice. In his first major solo exhibition in over ten years, he continues these debates in a newly adjusted social setting. The question as to what extent objects can still be enacted as carriers of meaning—or to what extent they need to be reactualized with regard to their involvement in contexts of meaning production—points directly to a debate on the altered meaning of objectivity within the “transnational capitalist project” (George Lipsitz) of “liquid modernity” (Zygmunt Baumann).

Certainly, the work of Helmut Mark induce us today to examine the question of the role taken by options of agency and agitation, having been made possible through the constant expansion of the art field. Are political aspects activated or crippled in the realm of art? Does it remain necessary to attack art institutions? What, then, is the status of the resistive aspect of art objects? Is not insistence on a certain form of autonomy for the artistic object—particularly vis-à-vis the institution (by renouncing site- or space-specific ensembles, for instance)—a form of resistance against the institution’s attempts at (de)politicization? Helmut Mark’s works from recent years embody a concentration of such questions, analyses, and reflections on the congruence of objectivity, media, public sphere, and politics, on the role of the subject in this play of congruence, on the changed status of objects and agencies, and accordingly on the precarious state of social exchange relationships in view of the “liquefaction of politics in culture” (Georges Lipsitz). Can existing social circumstances even still permit the radical criticism of cultural conditions or indeed something akin to a conception of revolution?

Helmut Mark

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Helmut Mark, REVOLUTION, 2006. photo: Gebhard Sengmüller