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  [UNTITLED. The Author Entitles Texts By Experimenting With Art.]

Kunstverein Medienturm
Josefigasse 1, 8020 Graz

Tue-Sat 10 a.m.-1 p.m. & Wed-Fri 3-6 p.m.
20.7.-21.8. Mi-Sa 10-13h

Opening: 18.06.2010, 7 p.m.
Press talk: 18.06.2010, 11 a.m.

Performances: 18.06.2010, 8 p.m. worte#26/lesung/2010
Eva Beierheimer / Miriam Laussegger

entwurf einer grammatik des kontinuums - sound / video / drawing / text
Jörg Piringer / Nikolaus Gansterer

Curators: Birgit Rinagl und Franz Thalmair, CONT3XT.NET
The prevalent components of the art reception are, at present, the continuum of the artist’s visage, the integration into the world of celebrity, the calculation of capacity and municipal marketing of the institutions, the pop- and soap connection and the child-oriented cooperative interactivity. – Diedrich Diederichsen

Pseudonyms, avatars and artificial characters – incognito and bodiless, authors hastily appear in blogs and online forums using these as retreat in an increasingly more transparent world. Nameless, without age and descent and dwelling in this vague anonymity, they seem to honour “The Death of the Author” [1] as emblematically as it has already been postulated, long ago, in the context of literary theory. However, even if the biography – in theory – might have disengaged from the meaning of the work, the literature- and the art scene symbolically and actually focus on the individual. Institutions which adjust their program to the market according to significant stages in the life of their protagonists, but also debates around copyrights and copyright licenses directly refer to the irrevocable relevance of the biography in a “regime of biographism and narcism, service processuality and authenticity“ [2] – the curriculum as measure of all art production?

Starting from the idea of a “modern scriptor” who is “born simultaneously with the text” [3] – as introduced by literary criticism – the exhibition UNTITLED (The Author Entitles Texts By Experimenting With Art.) questions an art market-driven orientation towards subject and biography as meaningful criteria in the valuation of art. The foremost language- and text-based artworks in the exhibition reflect the role of the artist-subject in the production- and reception aesthetics-based discourse in the current socio-political context and with respect to the interpretation practice in the exhibition space. First of all, the art scene acts as superstructure, as a mechanism which outlives itself and seems to only make possible the construction of sense relations. The main focus of the exhibition is the figure of the “author”, which is raised to an universal instance, meaning a model-like artist-subject, an existence that is independent from the individual and evolves only with the interactive relation of artwork and audience – text and reader – and is defined during its time “of the enunciation” [4]. The complex and entangled relations between the producing and the receiving subject are, thus, opened up for the aesthetical valuation of art in a medial context: “The autonomy of art, consequently and according to this understanding is not anymore inside the object, but is inferred from the relation of subject and object: with respect to the specific manner of how we experience objects of art – in particular in contrast to other things.” [5]

Not least by the title of the exhibition, the role of the curator is analysed in the light of the complex interplay of artist status and its commercial marketability, of the artwork’s production- and reception processes and the institutional critique which opposes the system of the “art market”. The unassigned untitled puts up for discussion the editorial tasks of the exhibition makers, thus allowing the reader’s/visitor’s imagination the greatest possible range. The computer-generated subtitle – Der/die AutorIn tituliert Texte durch eine versuchsweise Kunst. (The Author Entitles Texts By Experimenting With Art.) –, on the other hand, summarizes on the text level what Roland Barthes has described – referring to Julia Kristevas’ theory of intertextuality – as a “tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture.” [6]. Finally, the work emancipates itself from the artistic concept and the reader is defined as “the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost” [7]. The audience becomes the meaningful subject and the author no longer is at the helm.

In this controversial context Anna Artaker reviews in Unbekannte Avantgarde (2008) the gender balance in portraits of artist groups, which had advanced, in the course of the twentieth century, to the position of crucial reference sources. Without hesitation, she furnishes the male representatives of these collectives with female names. The discourse of gender is also implicated in the poster installation Some Of The Names Of Photoshop (2009): the artist not only faces the authors but also the commercial and social reference framework of those technical means which are essential for today’s digital image production.

Miriam Bajtala’s two-part video work Ohne Schatten: trigger (2009) and satellite me (2009) also revolves around the perception of digital image material: in her arrangements, the artist creates containers for narration where the shown action becomes a variable. The video images – for satellite me re-arranged by a computer program – are left as visual common property and form for possible narrations to the perception of the audience. In arbeiten für ohne titel (2008/2009), Bajtala, finally, transfers the responsibility of seeing the artwork totally to the readers. Expectations that are brought forth on a text level are visually not fulfilled – the gap in the immaterial world is only filled by the audience’s power of imagination.

An active reading on the part of the audience is also demanded by Nikolaus Gansterer with his analogue hypertext installation Mnemocity (Figures of Thought II - VI) (2005/2010). He concentrates individually selected and processed theoretical texts of various authors to a three-dimensional web of network nodes and interconnections, which can be deciphered over and over according to the respective spatial position of the reader. The relations between the word and its meaning, the text and its author are in the center of Jörg Piringer’s video works wir alle (2001), vielleicht (2002) and vorsprung (2004). On the basis of already existing text material like declarations, advertising messages and political speeches and by means of moving text-images, he noticeably dissolves the borderlines between art and literature.

Michael Kargl’s book installation a misunderstanding (2008-2010) encapsulates the topic of the exhibition in terms of a documentation of non-accepted calls of the artist, which are interpreted as waste product of the intricate mechanisms of the art scene and puts up for discussion the production conditions of contemporary art. Commercial strategies of marketability are also topicalized by the artist with objects of desire (2005-2008). In the course of a continuous process – original – artworks are generated of successive numbers, which disappear as quickly from the screen as they appeared thereon beforehand.

By the art scene often used metaphors and concepts are finally subject of Miriam Laussegger’s und Eva Beierheimer’s series of works worte#25/installation/ der/die betrachterIn interpretiert/2010 (2010) and the corresponding online text generator (2006/2010). With their collection of technical terms and terminologies, they reduce to absurdity language that relates to art by generating artificial language and return it again to the exhibition space as installation which is detached from the author-subject.

[1] Barthes, Roland: Image Music Text, Essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath, Fontana Press: London, 1977
[2] Diederichsen, Diedrich: Eigenblutdoping. Selbstverwertung, Künstlerromantik, Partizipation, Kiepenheuer & Witsch: Cologne, 2008, p. 196
[3] Barthes, Roland: Image Music Text, Essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath, Fontana Press: London, 1977, p. 145
[4] ibid.
[5] Rebentisch, Juliane: Ästhetik der Installation, Suhrkamp: Frankfurt am Main, 2003, p. 105
[6] Barthes, Roland: Image Music Text, Essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath, Fontana Press: London, 1977, p. 146
[7] ibid., p. 148

Anna Artaker, Miriam Bajtala, Eva Beierheimer / Miriam Laussegger, Nikolaus Gansterer, Michael Kargl – aka carlos katastrofsky, Jörg Piringer

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Eva Beierheimer / Miriam Laussegger, worte, 2006. Photo: Beierheimer/Laussegger