Mathias Pöschl

»you must learn«


21er Raum at 21er Haus, Vienna

April 17 — May 12, 2013


Black culture, hip hop, basketball: these are the elements from which Mathias Pöschl forms his exhibition you must learn at the 21er Raum. The title derives from a song by KRS-One, who also uses the pseudonym The Teacher in calling out for struggle against the discrimination of Afro-Americans. Gil Scott-Heron also makes an appearance in the exhibition; as one of the inventors of spoken-word performance, he was known for concerts reminiscent of lectures on social issues. The title of a 1992 song by Eric B. & Rakim has also been integrated in the exhibition: Don’t sweat the technique is a reminder not to waste time on the details. Right next to it is a picture of shoelaces, whichappear three times in the exhibition as a unifying element. They are red, black and green after the colors of the Back-to-Africa movement founded by Marcus Garvey in the 1920s. These are also the colors dominating the exhibition as a whole, while the shoelaces themselves reference another figure: Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Beginning in 1990, he played basketball in the NBA under his original name Chris Jackson, which he changed upon converting to Islam in 1991. The basketball player became more widely known on account of his refusal to stand for the American national anthem, and also on account of his style. According to sport theorists, he played like a white man – allegedly whites, in contrast to blacks, play less creatively but more precisely, because they tend to do more of their training alone. Abdul-Rauf trained alone because he has Tourette syndrome. And it was on account of this condition that it took him forever to tie his shoes. Pöschl is dealing with issues like time and order in disorder, a parallel to the Minimal Art of the 1960s and to Robert Smithson’s concept of entropy. This artist appears as a quote at many points, and he is set in relationship with sociopolitical content, for instance when Pöschl forms a (basketball) hoop out of Smithson’s Heap of Language, or when he relates the theme of mirrors and glass to photos of shot-out storefront windows in the context of the Black Panthers. The artist lets the organization’s female icon, Kathleen Cleaver, collide with Wade Guyton’s Color, Power & Style, while also stylizing pictures of the Nation of Islam in allusion to the reduction of their member’s surnames to an X.

Mathias Pöschl employs characteristic forms of Minimalism in describing a subcultural system. He translates into sculptural qualities ideas like striving against entropy, perfectionism, the development of structures, pivot leg and free leg, enduring to raise endurance, or the methodical doing-one-thing-after-another of training practices. Mixing the political and the cultural, he makes from them the entity of a literally social sculpture. And yet at the same time he goes against the grain of Minimal Art’s pretenses relating to the absolute. The attempts at producing order miss the mark in the end, dissolving into an unstoppably advancing entropy.


Mathias Pöschl, born in 1981, lives and works in Vienna, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts until 2008. His recent exhibitions include: FAcES, Burgenländische Landesgalerie, Eisenstadt (2012), Galleri Ping-Pong, Malmö (2011), Fine Line, Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna (2010), Confligere, Kunstverein Schattendorf (2010), heute geschlossen, morgen geöffnet, swingr, Vienna (2006).


Exhibition catalogue:
21er Raum 2012 – 2016
Edited by Agnes Husslein-Arco and Severin Dünser
Including texts by Severin Dünser, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Paul Feigelfeld, Agnes Husslein-Arco, Lili Reynaud-Dewar and Luisa Ziaja on exhibitions by Anna-Sophie Berger, Andy Boot, Vittorio Brodmann, Andy Coolquitt, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Iman Issa, Barbara Kapusta, Susanne Kriemann, Adriana Lara, Till Megerle, Adrien Missika, Noële Ody, Sarah Ortmeyer, Mathias Pöschl, Rosa Rendl, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Anja Ronacher, Constanze Schweiger, Zin Taylor, Philipp Timischl, Rita Vitorelli and Salvatore Viviano
Graphic design by Atelier Liska Wesle, Vienna/Berlin
Softcover, 21 × 29,7 cm, 272 pages, numerous illustrations in color
Belvedere, Vienna, 2016
ISBN 978-3-903114-18-0