on site art projects

Domus Artium 2002. A space for contemporary art in Salamanca

Salamanca – self-proclaimed Ciudad de Cultura y Saberes (City of Culture and Knowledge) – houses the oldest university in Spain, numerous culturally important buildings and sites as magnificent witnesses of a three thousand years old history and especially the 16th century with the city being a European center of learning. Thus, though Salamanca’s cultural and historical importance cannot and should not be denied, it must have been painfully obvious in 1998, when the city was declared European Capital of Culture for the year 2002 (shared with Bruges), that something is terribly missing – a space for contemporary art. Consequently, the city’s old provincial prison, originally constructed in 1930, was remodeled and the much-needed space – Domus Artium 2002, often shortened to DA2, as a center of contemporary art – was finally born with more than 2.600 m² of room for display.

A former prison transformed into a center of contemporary art. Photo: © Domus Artium 2002. Fundación Salamanca Ciudad de Cultura y Saberes.   

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OFF-Biennale appetizer: Alfred Palestra at acb Gallery


A small selection of appetizers was offered in galleries around Budapest a day before the official opening of OFF-Biennale, among which was Alfred Palestra, a collaboration between Berlin-based Katarina Šević and Tehnica Schweiz (Gergely László and Péter Rákosi) at acb Galeria on April 23.

Visually, the exhibition consists of conceptually transformed relics of academic study: eight perfect wooden objects resembling desks (or shields?) are positioned on the floor, each harboring a worn-out masterpiece of world literature (in French). Each of these shelf-shields has a pair of leather belts attached to it, suggesting that the items are not mere relics, and can be worn. In another political contexts, these smooth, angular objects might work as garments for an avant-garde ballet or a neo-concrete manifestation, however, in the contest of the “traditional turn” in the Hungarian education system, the didacticism of these objects has a clear lesson. (The artists have been collaborating with a Budapest school drama class, and the items will be taken from their “storage” at the gallery and performed on Wednesday, April 29 – see OFF calendar for more details).

In between the desks is a large, heavy object that combines the elements of a bourgeois recliner with a hint of conveyer belt; more paperback Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Goethe, Verlaine… are waiting to be recognized and read. The strict, symmetrical positioning of the objects on the floor is supervised by a tall pedestal-like formation with a sword broken in two at the top – at the back wall of the gallery space. With some time, putting two and two together, you realize that the books fit into the large cupboard-like rucksack in front  – with four belts and hence to be picked up by two able bodies – and that the archive-library is meant to be packed and unpacked in various places. Incidentally, Alfred Palestra is a second iteration of an exhibition that was shown at the 2014 Rennes Biennale in France.

Conceptually, the exhibition is more nuanced. It is not intuitive, and if you miss some elements or you don’t speak Hungarian (or French), you can’t quite connect the dots. “Alfred” in Alfred Palestra connotes Alfred Dreyfus and Alfred Jarry, identities on the opposing poles of the cultural spectrum, who have been present in a single space (though at different times) in 19c. France. This historical space is now a secondary school in Rennes – hence palestra –which means “gym.” The books in the exhibition are taken from each one of the Alfreds’ personal reading lists: not surprisingly, these largely show opposing literary preferences (Jarry was a surrealist writer with an interest in metaphysics, and the Dreyfus Affair remains the symbol of injustice). That’s a lot, but the take-away is immediate: the “what-if” encounter, and innovative ways to locate connections in given, potentially oppressive, systems, which might include history, tradition and education….

To me, the spatial symmetry of the objects connotes a classroom, but the affect of rigor is enhanced through the clean angles of the forms, their smooth surfaces and toned color. Gergely László says that “it is a kind of machine,” but unlike the traditional conveyor belt of education, where literature is a device for indoctrination, the machine of Alfred Palestra teaches about overlapping narratives, new perspectives and odd encounters. And that in itself is a method of education.  Alfred Palestra mimics a machine or an ideological system, and does not suggest to destroy it, instead giving you a trick for navigation and the ambition to find the Rabelasian Gargantua in Gogol’s Taras Bulba.


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about OFF-Biennale Budapest

Darja Filippova, Blogger for the OFF-Biennale in Budapest, will keep us up to date about selected events during the OFF Biennale.

But first, some infos about the OFF-Biennale in general, which will be on from 
24 April – 31 May 2015. This and more info you can find on ther website as well!

The first edition of the OFF-Biennale Budapest is now on with a series of exhibitions and art events in and beyond the city of Budapest. Its concept is different from traditional biennials as we know them. Not affiliated with any institution, it is a voluntary collaborative initiative of artists, groups of artists, curators, art managers, gallerists and collectors. OFF-Biennale Budapest is a civil initiative, whose aim is to bring a segment of culture, contemporary art, closer to the public at large. 

More than 150 artists and curators are presenting their projects in more than 30 different venues. OFF-Biennale Budapest programmes will be presented across Budapest, in other Hungarian cities and abroad at a wide variety of venues: not only in art galleries but also in artists’ studios, vacant buildings, private apartments, bars, cafés and public spaces. 

on site went there last weekend for the opening and we are highly impressed by this initiative! So, in case you are close Budapest, don't miss it!


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Four young Finnish artists you should know

Finland, one of the northernmost European countries, has despite its distant location a flourishing contemporary art scene. Especially many young artists have lately made their names known beyond the borderlines. Here are my four picks of contemporary Finnish artists you should know:

Elina Brotherus, Artists at Work 6, 2009, 70 x 84 cm, chromogenic color print, edition of 6 

Elina Brotherus 


Photographer Elina Brotherus (*1972) does not only work behind the camera, but often steps in front of it. In her works her interest in the visual strategies of motion pictures is apparent, but unlike her colleague Cindy Sherman Brotherus’ approach is rather the one of a documentary than of a feature film. She does not act a role other than the ones she already possesses: Those of an artist and a model. In her series Artist and her Model (2005–2011) Brotherus positions her models – mostly herself – in variety of calm nature landscapes and quiet indoor milieus. The depicted people are alone admiring their surroundings or sunken into their thoughts. Although Brotherus acts both the roles of an artist and of a model, the pictures are not conventional artists’ self-portraits. Rather than that they are pictures depicting a model, whose role the artist herself occupies. In the series Artists at Work (2009) the artist-model relationship is approached as well. We see in these photos a group of painters and drawers portraying Brotherus nude, a classical artist-depicting-a-model -setting. Brotherus’ camera captures the scene of the working painters and herself, thus creating her work of art. Hence all the partaking artists end up with a double role: the one of depicter and of the depicted.

Abb2 jiri geller - deadboyJiri Geller, Dead Boy, 2006, 13 x 13 x 21 cm, painted resin, edition of 3 + 1 AP

Jiri Geller

With his works the sculptor Jiri Geller (artist name of Jiri Holopainen, *1970) pursuits to fool the viewer. This begins already with the chosen material: He makes raisin look like milk or ice cream and creates weightless looking air balloons out of fiberglass. Geller is an educated silver smith and the aspect of hand-made uniqueness has a significant meaning to his art. His works might look like mass-produced items, but actually they all have demanded months of careful work. Geller admits to be fond of the idea that his artistic touch is so perfect that it tricks the viewer to believe his works are made by a machine. Geller’s imagery consists of familiar images originating from the popular culture. His brightly painted Donald Duck heads rest on their pedestals next to human sculls crowned with thorns, accompanied by a dismembered hand of Mickey Mouse. Sometimes Geller creates hybrids with mismatching symbolic. For example in his work Dead Boy (2006) he puts the thorn crown, an iconographical attribute of Christ, on one of his Donald Ducks. The artist says that with these conflicting attributes he wants to give an image of a factory in China, where the producers have misunderstood the brands and decided to merge them for better sales.

Abb3 jani leinonen - FLAJani Leinonen, Food Liberation Army, 2011

Jani Leinonen

Jani Leinonen (*1978) combines activism with pop art and uses images of popular brands and advertisement in his works – not always in an undisputed manner. Leinonen became enfant terrible of Finland’s art world with his work Food Liberation Army in 2011. In it a Ronald McDonald statue was ‘kidnapped’ from one of Helsinki’s McDonald’s restaurants. During the following day the kidnappers published a YouTube video, in which an unidentified group of masked individuals – including the artist – demanded answers from McDonald’s to their questions about the restaurant chains food ethics or else their mascot would be executed. The kidnapping made the international news and after the McDonald’s spokes person stated that the company would not “negotiate with terrorists” a cast made of the Ronald statue was beheaded by a guillotine in the Showroom Gallery in Helsinki. As an aftermath of this stunt the artist received a fine for stealing the Ronald statue. Leinonen himself has stated in an interview that his artistic goal is to make a work of art so famous, that it will be stolen from the museum, copied in Shanghai and known by Damien Hirst’s mother.

Abb4 pilvi takala - bag lady kleinPilvi Takala, Bag Lady, 2006-2009, slide show/book/performance, courtesy of Galerie Diana Stigter and Carlos/Ishikawa

Pilvi Takala

Even though Pilvi Takala (*1981) is the youngest artist on this list, she is already a well-known name in the international art scene. Takala’s works are sociological performances that could be even called experiments, in which she examines the boundaries of the social conventions of human interaction by confronting random participants with provoking situations. The reactions of the people she encounters are documented with a hidden video camera. In her work titled Bag Lady (2007) Takala walks around Berlins KaDeWe carrying a transparent plastic bag full of banknotes. During her experiment she is approached by many passers-by and shopkeepers and is repeatedly told to hide her money. Some of them even offer her a non-transparent bag to put her money in. Her behaviour seems to raise worry and fear amongst the people around her. In her other work The Trainee (2008) Takala acts an intern at a professional services firm Deloitte, where only a few knew of the performance taking place. As the recordings of the performance show she starts out as an ordinary trainee doing her internship, but gradually she would stop working and instead spend her days sitting mutely at her desk or driving up and down with the elevator. Video clips and prints of the e-mail transfer between Takala’s work colleagues and their supervisor, document the confused reactions of the colleagues as they seek for an explanation to her unorthodox behaviour.

Jutta Emilia Tynkkynen (born at Finnish lakeside), currently lives and studies art history in Vienna.

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performance day

On the final day of the opening weekend of ice ice baby, we want to invite you to two - very different, but mutually grand - performances.

On Saturday (2 - 3pm), visitors are very welcome to come to TBA21–Augarten where Trajectories - a concert with accompanying visual art by Sigurdur Gudjónsson - is taking place. Pianist Tinna Thorsteinsdóttir performs a piano composition by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir. The Icelandic artist Sigurdur Gudjónsson focuses on video as his artistic medium. In his audio-visual works, the image is on an equal basis with the sound to create a distant, but at the same time intensely beautiful atmosphere.

The main components of the visual part of the performance Trajectories are light, sand and motion. As the image is linked to the sound, the motion of the image is generated by the piano music. The point is that all different sound waves are visualised and therefore visible for the audience, while on the acoustic level some of these sound waves remain hidden for the human ear. This work is a play with visual and acoustic perception, the perception of harmony and balance. But Trajectories would be misread, if you consume it only in a mental way, because it also is about creating a bodily experience. The visitors are invited to walk around in the room filled with light and darkness at the same time, movement and sound.

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about ice ice baby

We are excited to share some big news concerning the location where our exhibition ‚ice ice baby’ will be shown: We found a great space in the building at Alserbachstraße 30, 1090 Vienna, where we are using temporarily vacant office rooms, which are just perfect for our exhibition.

We are also proud to confirm the discursive and theoretical outline of the public programme accompanying the exhibition. In this respect, we are inviting important representatives of Icelandic contemporary art institutions to Vienna.

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ARTER – Space For Art in Istanbul

The Roving Eye: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia

A space for art in Istanbul – this is how ARTER can be described in the shortest way possible. Let us look into more detail at this Istanbul based art space in consideration of its site, its funding and in particular of the current exhibition The Roving Eye.

ARTER was opened in 2010 with the aim of offering an infrastructure for the production and exhibition of contemporary art. Thus ARTER not only wants to be a space for displaying artistic work, the ambition to support artists financially in producing their works is not less important. ARTER is displaying international art – this will show the following discussion of the exhibition of Southeast Asian art – but there is a strong concentration on local Turkish artists as well. The last exhibition, for example, engaged itself with the Grande Dame of Turkish art, Füsun Onur, before that, amongst others, Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Fatma Bucak, Sarkis, Volkan Aslan or Kutluğ Ataman were shown.


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Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition London

Approaching The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition is usually filled with high expectations.

The vast number of people leaving the holy halls gives you an idea how important this show is for the urge of detecting the ‚Zeitgeist‘.

I spent my time queuing for the next slot as a voyeur trying to grasp the essence of this year’s works: looking in the faces of leaving visitors that were equally concerned and amused. Probably because all works are on sale.

 Cornelia Piper curated the first room with a selection of works from recently graduated students to very established like Tracey Emin. Piper has chosen all medias from video installation to pencil drawing. The beauty of this only curated room is that your attention unwinds very slowly due to the monochrome works only in whites and blacks. Photographs disperse the turbulence of our times and writings in neon lights bear a witty comment on today’s paradox.

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