Camera Austria International

121 | 2013

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  • SANDRA KRIŽIĆ ROBAN
    Gorgona: A Thought for March — “Nothing”
  • GORGONA
  • SANDRA KRIŽIĆ ROBAN
    Miljenko Horvat: Heralding Sebald
  • MILJENKO HORVAT
  • JOANNA WARSZA
    Into a Nightmarish, Unknown Future
  • AKADEMIA RUCHU
  • NICOLE SIX & PAUL PETRITSCH
  • WENDY TRONRUD
    Where I′m Calling From
  • ALEJANDRO CESARCO
  • T.J. DEMOS
    Spectro-Aesthetics 1/4 On (In)Sensible Politics

Preface

A reactualisation of artistic positions or a reappropriation of artistic practices—especially of those from the 1970s—has been evident for some time now. This “Renaissance” is also fuelled by a certain aspiration to reactivate the political moments seen during that period, with the transition from conceptual to performative strategies apparently assuming an especially important role. In the interstices between the two, the fundamental requisites for artistic strategies are discernible—aiming, from the very core, to label and change social and political disparities.
Yet the revival of these debates is not only owed to such “conjuncture of the political”. We are also touching on discourse that has played out in Camera Austria International since its first issue. Starting in 1980, various contributions—such as those by Joseph Kosuth, Ed Ruscha, Christopher Williams, Lewis Baltz, Mladen Stilinović, or (most recently) by Hans Haacke, to name but a few—have repeatedly honed in on the photographic topography found amidst conceptual, aesthetic, representational, and performative realms. As a result, photography has introduced a politics of images, one that queries not the manifestation of pictures but rather their modes of operation. The current issue sets out to build on this thematic complex in order to advance topical discussion on the political strategies employed in art and the artistic strategies in politics; at the same time, it once again seizes on important yet less-well-known historical contributions of international scope that have been made to this debate. The aim here goes beyond surveying artistic positions of the 1970s as to their relevance within society in the present day or their effectiveness in today’s cultural field. The idea is, moreover, to foster tension between these works (some of which may already be deemed historical) and contemporary artistic practices.
In her textual contribution, Sandra Križić Roban—co-curator of the exhibition “Zero Point of Meaning: Non-functional, Non-representational, Elementary, Experimental and Conceptual Photography in Croatia” on show at Camera Austria from 9 March to 26 May at our exhibition venue in Graz—highlights an artistic position that is essential to this project and to our context: the works of Gorgona, a proto-conceptual artists’ group from Zagreb. Early on, the group anticipated practices that were to become characteristic of the 1970s, like the book as artwork, art as a stance, language as medium, art as idea, et cetera. The photographically documented actions of this heterogeneous group attest to their intention of fostering the unintentional, to a ridiculing of what is actually desirable, to an emphasis of the absurd potential of everyday life. Their nihilistic-existentialist habitus, which has set out to challenge conventions within society, can nevertheless hardly be compared with the conversely absurd-comical gestus of the Warsaw-based group Akademia Ruchu—albeit the actions and performances of the latter group, which are based on street theatre, are not short of political poignancy towards the system prevalent in the People’s Republic of Poland or towards the laws of the free market economy that took over the country as of 1989. With over 600 actions and performances to date, Akademia Ruchu is still shaking the status quo today by alienating what is familiar, furthering critical perception, fostering understanding for concepts of collectivity and multitude, and, not least, associating art and life.
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Camera Austria International 121 | 2013
Preface

A reactualisation of artistic positions or a reappropriation of artistic practices—especially of those from the 1970s—has been evident for some time now. This “Renaissance” is also fuelled by a certain aspiration to reactivate the political moments seen during that period, with the transition from conceptual to performative strategies apparently assuming an especially important role. In the interstices between the two, the fundamental requisites for artistic strategies are discernible—aiming, from the very core, to label and change social and political disparities.
Yet the revival of these debates is not only owed to such “conjuncture of the political”. We are also touching on discourse that has played out in Camera Austria International since its first issue. Starting in 1980, various contributions—such as those by Joseph Kosuth, Ed Ruscha, Christopher Williams, Lewis Baltz, Mladen Stilinović, or (most recently) by Hans Haacke, to name but a few—have repeatedly honed in on the photographic topography found amidst conceptual, aesthetic, representational, and performative realms. As a result, photography has introduced a politics of images, one that queries not the manifestation of pictures but rather their modes of operation. The current issue sets out to build on this thematic complex in order to advance topical discussion on the political strategies employed in art and the artistic strategies in politics; at the same time, it once again seizes on important yet less-well-known historical contributions of international scope that have been made to this debate. The aim here goes beyond surveying artistic positions of the 1970s as to their relevance within society in the present day or their effectiveness in today’s cultural field. The idea is, moreover, to foster tension between these works (some of which may already be deemed historical) and contemporary artistic practices.
In her textual contribution, Sandra Križić Roban—co-curator of the exhibition “Zero Point of Meaning: Non-functional, Non-representational, Elementary, Experimental and Conceptual Photography in Croatia” on show at Camera Austria from 9 March to 26 May at our exhibition venue in Graz—highlights an artistic position that is essential to this project and to our context: the works of Gorgona, a proto-conceptual artists’ group from Zagreb. Early on, the group anticipated practices that were to become characteristic of the 1970s, like the book as artwork, art as a stance, language as medium, art as idea, et cetera. The photographically documented actions of this heterogeneous group attest to their intention of fostering the unintentional, to a ridiculing of what is actually desirable, to an emphasis of the absurd potential of everyday life. Their nihilistic-existentialist habitus, which has set out to challenge conventions within society, can nevertheless hardly be compared with the conversely absurd-comical gestus of the Warsaw-based group Akademia Ruchu—albeit the actions and performances of the latter group, which are based on street theatre, are not short of political poignancy towards the system prevalent in the People’s Republic of Poland or towards the laws of the free market economy that took over the country as of 1989. With over 600 actions and performances to date, Akademia Ruchu is still shaking the status quo today by alienating what is familiar, furthering critical perception, fostering understanding for concepts of collectivity and multitude, and, not least, associating art and life.
Appropriation has thus been employed by both Gorgona and Akademia Ruchu as a natural instrument, as a universally accepted principle of creativity and authorship. Alejandro Cesarco, too, makes use of it in his artwork. His piece “Where I’m Calling From” borrows its title from a short story by Raymond Carver and exhibits a series of affective similarities: “Like Carver’s story, the story here is in the references, its borrowed intentionality, the use of pictures to not only allude to the importance of a particular person, text, or experience, but to illustrate that the place of address is its own context, is in the act of telling itself.” In detailing how Cesarco takes an affective approach to exploring the topic of authorship, Wendy Tronrud cites the explicit presence of Susan Sontag, Lawrence Weiner, Cole Porter, Ellsworth Kelly, and Roland Barthes in his work and touches on what they mean to Cesarco.
Austrian artists Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch bring the concept of appropriation into the space of this magazine—literally. The analysis of existing systems usually entails radical adaptation and a processing of materials, be it the measuring of rooms with the help of one’s own body, the circumnavigation of the world by clocking the appropriate mileage on a historical Spanish speedway, or, in our present case, the act of taking literally the visual rhetoric associated with the standard repertoire of filmic narrative, which thus represent a visual processing of reality. In “Schuss / Gegenschuss” (Shot / Counter-Shot), the artists shot each individual sheet of their contribution to this issue twice with a small-bore rifle. On a material level, they have therefore ensured inscription into the politics of representation—a performative act that entangles the space of the magazine with spaces of agency of an entirely different character; and an act whereby each sheet asserts the claim to being a unique work of art.
Nearly all of the works introduced in this issue are the product of collaborative processes: the formation of artists’ groups like ­Gorgona or Akademia Ruchu, the action-oriented exchange in the case of Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch, or the tacit act of appropriation and doubling in Alejandro Cesarco’s work. So, in our view, it made sense to give over the Forum section of this issue to be freely designed by a collective: the students of the Open Class at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. An introductory interview lets us in on how they developed a collective practice—a practice that is illustrated through the ensuing series of photographs.
Last year, Jan Wenzel introduced various new books in our review section. This year he has modified his approach: over the course of four issues, he will comparatively analyse various artists’ books by different artists from different time periods. We have created a special section specifically for these texts: “The Revolving Bookshelf”.
T. J. Demos, who conducted an interview with Renzo Martens for our most recent issue, is our columnist of the year for 2013. Following the previous columns by Walid Sadek (2011, “A Time to See”) and Jan Verwoert (2012, “Image as Witness”), each having taken a unique approach to tackling the questions involved in the representation of political events, Demos is now dedicating his contributions over the course of the coming four issues to “Spectro-Aesthetics”. If we wish to elude haunting, according to Demos, then “rather than denying the traces of historical trauma and the violence of past injustices, we must interrogate their irrepressible materialisations [such as in photographs, editor’s note] in the present and reformulate the future on that basis, at least if we are to escape from a certain haunting.” His contributions address the pivotal issues related to the pictorial representation of time and/or politics, but also to the documentary as a political practice, calling on us as viewers and readers to break “the spell of our subjection to amnesia and blindness, inviting us to live differently by … reconnecting the present with its historical conditions, and reinventing the future—politically, socially, economically—on the basis of that knowledge.”
Maren Lübbke-Tidow
Reinhard Braun
March 2013

Entries

Forum

OPEN CLASS AT THE ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS VIENNA

Exhibitions

Lieber Aby Warburg, was tun mit Bildern? Vom Umgang mit fotografischem Material
Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen
CHRISTINA NATLACEN

Jonas Mekas
Serpentine Gallery, London
MARTIN HERBERT

Ian Wallace: At the Intersection of Painting and Photography
Vancouver Art Gallery
CLINT BURNHAM

Das Bauhaus im Bild: Die Fotosammlung Thomas Walther
Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau
CAROLIN FÖRSTER

Vienna′s Shooting Girls: Jüdische Fotografinnen aus Wien
Jüdisches Museum Wien
ULRIKE MATZER

Hans Schabus & The Center for Land Use. Interpretation: Double Crossings
MAK Center for Art and Architecture / Mackey Garage Top, Los Angeles
JOANNA FIDUCCIA

Keine Zeit. Erschöpftes Selbst / Entgrenztes Können
21er Haus, Wien
At Your Service – Kunst und Arbeitswelt
Technisches Museum Wien
MANISHA JOTHADY

Light from the Middle East: New Photography
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
PAOLO MAGAGNOLI

Jack Smith: Extra Trouble
MMK, Frankfurt/Main
Live Film – Queer Life! Underground unterwegs
Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt/Main
GISLIND NABAKOWSKI

Bogomir Ecker: Idylle + Desaster
Teil 1: Idylle + Desaster, Museum für Fotografie, Berlin
Teil 2: Was das Foto verschweigt, Museum für Photographie Braunschweig
ESTELLE BLASCHKE

Liz Deschenes
Secession, Wien
KATHI HOFER

Joachim Koester: Maybe One Must Begin with Some Particular Places
S.M.A.K., Ghent
STEFAAN VERVOORT

Jorge Ribalta: Field Works
ángels barcelona
STEPHANIE SCHWARTZ

How Are We Performing Today? New Formats, Places, and Practices of Performance-Related Art
Symposium at MoMA, New York
JUDITH RODENBECK

Andrea van der Straeten: [as if]
Casino – Forum d′art contemporain, Luxemburg
Oberösterreichische Landesgalerie, Linz
HERBERT JUSTNIK

Where Is PERMAFO?
Wrocław Contemporary Museum
JAKUB MAJMUREK

Books

Poppy. Trails of Afghan Heroin
Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern 2012
JOCHEN BECKER

Ariella Azoulay: Civil Imagination. A Political Ontology of Photography
Verso Books, London 2012
TACO HIDDE BAKKER

Wenn Gesinnung Form wird
Spector Books, Leipzig 2012
KRZYSTOF PIJARSKI

Originalausgabe / Original Issue
Dent-De-Leone, London 2012
WALTER SEIDL

THE REVOLVING BOOKSHELF
Isa Genzken: Der Spiegel 1989 – 1991, Walther König, Köln 2003
Rainald Goetz: 1989. Material 1 – 3, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt/Main 1994
Rob Johannesma: Spots of Time, Roma Publications, Amsterdam 2012
JAN WENZEL

Imprint

Publisher: Reinhard Braun
Owner: Verein CAMERA AUSTRIA. Labor für Fotografie und Theorie.
Lendkai 1, 8020 Graz, Österreich
Editor-in-chief: Maren Lübbke-Tidow (V.i.S.d.P.)
Editors: Christina Töpfer, Margit Neuhold (maternity leave), Rebecca Wilton
Translators: Dawn Michelle d’Atri, Andy Jelčić, Wilfried Prantner
German proofreading: Daniela Billner
English proofreading: Dawn Michelle d’Atri

Dank / Aknowledgements:
Michael Baers, Sabine Breitwieser, Alejandro Cesarco, T.J. Demos, Lucija Dujmović, Sandra Križić Roban, Galerie Zak | Branicka (Berlin), Gorgona (Dimitrije Bašičević, Miljenko Horvat, Marijan Jevšovar, Julije Knifer, Ivan Kožarić, Matko Meštrović, Radoslav Putar, Ðuro Seder, Josip Vaništa), Radmila Iva Janković, Andy Jelčić, Werner Kaligofsky, Ana Knifer, Grzegorz Laszuk, Tanya Leighton (Berlin), Bartłomiej Lis, Matthias Michalka, Paolo Mofardin, Murray Guy (New York), Akademia Ruchu (Janusz Bałdyga, Joanta Krukowska, Wojciech Krukowski, Cezary Marczak, Zbigniew Olkiewicz, Krzysztof Żwirblis), Nicole Six und / and Paul Petritsch, Robert Stürzl, Wendy Tronrud, Žarko Vijatović, Irena Vrakljan, Raum mit Licht / Josephine Wagner (Wien / Vienna), Joanna Warsza, Freie Klasse der Akademie der bildenden Künste (Wien) / Open Class at the Academy of Fine Arts (Vienna)

Copyright © 2013
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. Nachdruck nur mit vorheriger Genehmigung des Verlags. / All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced without publisher’s permission.

Für übermittelte Manuskripte und Originalvorlagen wird keine Haftung übernommen. / Camera Austria International does not assume any responsibility for submitted texts and original materials.

ISBN 978-3-900508-94-4ISSN 1015 1915
GTIN 4 19 23106 1600 5 00121