‘On the New – Young Art from Vienna’


Featuring works by Sasha Auerbakh, Anna-Sophie Berger, Cäcilia Brown, Marc-Alexandre Dumoulin, Melanie Ebenhoch, Johannes Gierlinger, Birke Gorm, Maureen Kaegi, Barbara Kapusta, Angelika Loderer, Nana Mandl, Matthias Noggler, Lukas Posch, Lucia Elena Průša, Rosa Rendl & Lonely Boys, Marina Sula, Philipp Timischl and Edin Zenun; curated by Severin Dünser and Luisa Ziaja


Kunstraum Innsbruck

4 July – 31 August, 2019


In Vienna there is a varied and vibrant practice of art production and presentation by a new generation. “On the New – Young Art from Vienna” aims to reflect the vitality of Vienna’s art communities: It provides an insight into the practices of eighteen artists up to the age of thirty-five. Based on “On the New – Young Scenes in Vienna”, that was on display at Belvedere 21 in spring 2019, the concept and selection for this exhibition were adapted to the spatial possibilities at Kunstraum Innsbruck. In general, the curators Severin Dünser and Luisa Ziaja seeked to contextualize the different approaches and attitudes of various protagonists in relation to the forms of expression they use – even if it is impossible to reproduce the young Viennese art production in all its’ variety within a single exhibition.


The exhibition was titled “On the New” in full awareness of the difficulties posed by the connotations associated with such terms as “new”, “young”, and “scene”, because these also reflect the difficulties of the format itself. The “new” in art is a highly charged concept in many ways. In modernism, it paradigmatically represents the endeavor of the artistic avantgardes to reject and overcome preceding movements, and to create not only a visionary new art, but to shape the individual and even the world anew. By contrast, pluralism, polyphony and multiperspectivity became key concepts of a postmodernist aesthetic that dismantled the boundaries between genres, media, high culture and popular culture, between art and the everyday. Due to a combination of overstimulation (through digital media, virally circulating images or content) and sheer exhaustion (through the constant recycling of cultural forms of expression) the very concept of the new has now been all but eradicated from contemporary thinking. The present has become so fully inundated by the past that any differentiation between them has been eroded. Buried, too, is the knowledge that none of this is new, that innovation was once a real possibility, and that a different reality was once actually conceivable. So the concept of the new involves a clash of different discourses and schools of thought, which might be taken as the framework for current artistic production. At the same time, the quotidian nature of this term also arouses expectations that may well be thwarted. It is this discrepancy and the resulting need for discussion that the curators have chosen to evoke in choosing a title that not only cites Boris Groys directly, but also addresses issues far beyond his approach.


While searching for the “new” in the studios of the younger Viennese artist, some tendencies became clear: Craftsmanship and a mastery of traditional techniques are key to many of the works shown here, often in conjunction with experimenting with materials and their specific qualities. Marc-Alexandre Dumoulin, for instance, creates lucid paintings of old-master perfection, while Edin Zenun works in oils, clay and pigment to produce works that raise questions about the immanent painterly nature of both the figurative and the abstract. Angelika Loderer, on the other hand, experiments with means drawn from the craft of metal-casting, like casting sand, pressing and stamping it into autonomous temporary sculptures. Meanwhile, Sasha Auerbakh does not follow the specific qualities or characteristics of her material so much as she obsessively overrides them. Cäcilia Brown plays with the contradictory connotations of the fleeting and the permanent, when she casts cardboard boxes that serve as temporary night shelters in concrete. And in Birke Gorm’s vase-like sand sculptures and wall pieces made of jute sacks, the aesthetics of the haptic and of craftmanship meet the digital.


The constraints of digitality and the ever more gapless incorporation in various media dispositifs are reflected either directly or indirectly in a number of works. Maureen Kaegi, for example, devotes her meticulous drawings, created through analogue processes, to the perceptual phenomena of the digital noise that she counters with contemplative depths. Lukas Posch, by contrast, addresses with his paintings the invasively stimulating effects of the digital on the individual’s body and mind, while Nana Mandl explores the faultlines of present-day visuality by recoupling the inflationary production and distribution of digital images to the analogue realm in her largescale material collages.


The internet offers freedoms and endless possibilities for development, fulfilment, information, entertainment and consumerism. The flawlessness of the digital exerts an enormous appeal, even on those who are aware that there are algorithms in play, which are aimed at creating a frictionless experience, while manipulating our online behavior. Even the most savvy users are so tempted by what the internet has to offer that they end up spending a great deal of their spare time online. That in itself involves a certain disembodiment, an alienation from one’s own physis. Running against the tide of this development, however, corporeality seems to be an important theme for several of the artists in the exhibition. Such as Birke Gorm, who translates the idealization of the digital into the imperfection of the physical, with particular emphasis on the aspect of manual labor. The work of Lucia Elena Průša addresses subjective perception of time triggered by bodily processes. For Barbara Kapusta, the body is relevant as a connecting link between the internal and the external. Cäcilia Brown places the body and its needs in relation to the public space, while Marina Sula is interested in how behaviors and attitudes can be altered by architectural structures. She sees the body as a biomass formed by genetic materials and external influences, and also reflects on it as an expression of belonging as well as in terms of a machine and working instrument whose efficiency increase and (self-) discipline leads to alienation from it. Sula contrasts the transformation of the body through prostheses as optimization and concomitant self-fragmentation with its presence as a vehicle for potential social interaction.


For Anna-Sophie Berger, too, physical presence is a factor within the context of her own mobility between various geographic centres of her life. This results in a certain diremption between the cosmopolitan and the rooted in the construction of identity—raising the question of belonging, which is also addressed by some of the other artists in the exhibition. Johannes Gierlinger, for instance, looks at past and present forms of political radicalization within the context of national identity models. Matthias Noggler, on the other hand, describes belonging as a group-dynamic process underpinned by mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion (a factor that can also be found in the work of Lucia Elena Průša), spawning forms of subjectification. Birke Gorm, by contrast, sees the individual as being exposed to social norms and expectations and having to react accordingly by taking a demonstrative stance. Rosa Rendl’s photographs centre around identity and the way it is conveyed, as well as focusing on the construction of authenticity, while Melanie Ebenhoch explores the reciprocal effects between the reception of artworks and the supposed projections onto the figure of the artist behind them as the starting point for her reflections on painting as a medium of representation. Philipp Timischl, who focuses on issues of origin and sexuality in terms of how these factors influence a sense of social belonging, channels the question of constructing identity into reflections on representation, respectively emancipation through forms of self-exposion.


Formulating notions of belonging and identity is something that goes hand in hand with processes of individualization. In the exhibition, this manifests itself not only on the meta-level of the conditions that underly the construction of identity. Instead, it is also evident in the endeavors to artistically express the individuality of one’s own identity beyond the bounds of universal validities and objectivities. In contrast to the individual mythologies outlined by the likes of Szeemann, there is little to be found herein the way of the archetypical or the obsessive, though some of the artists in the exhibition do indicate a tendency to withdraw into the private and subjective sphere. Bouyed by a desire for authenticity, emotions and empathy take centre stage in works putting the human condition of the individual in focus. That can be felt as keenly in the music videos of Lonely Boys as it can in the inner landscapes that Marc-Alexandre Dumoulin spreads out before us. Even when Lucia Elena Průša presents time as a subjective notion, or when Sasha Auerbakh explores the psychological outlier of unrequited love, or Barbara Kapusta merges desire, lust and pain in a cognitive dissonance, or Philipp Timischl bundles personal emotional states into a kind of retrospective introspective—then states of mind become expressions of worldviews that include the wider whole in the existential.