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With Eyes Aghast: Transmannerist Reactions

Event Label
Exhibition dates
Organisational Units

Opening hours: Tue–Sun, 10.00 a.m.–6.00 p.m., admission free
Special opening hours: Open on December 8 and 26, 2015 and
on January 6, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Closed on December 24 and 25, 2015 and on January 1, 2016

Opening : Thursday, November 19, 2015, 7:00 p.m.

Welcome address : Andrea B. Braidt, Vice-Rector for Art | Research, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Introduction : Ruby Sircar, Studio of Contextual Painting, Institute for Fine Arts

Performance route : Thursday, November 19, 2015, starting at 7:30 p.m. with Brigitte Wilfing, Moritz Gottschalk, Crazy Bitch in a Cave, Alexandru Cosarca, BURLIN MUD’s Metal Mang Orkaestra, Wilhelm Binder, Zoe DeWitt, and Pete Prison IV in the xhibit space and rooms 116, 117, S 15 and the corridors and stairwells of the Academy’s Main Building on Schillerplatz


Curators : Christian Hetlinger, Matteo Patti, Ruby Sircar

Artists : Offerus Ablinger, Annemarie Arzberger, Florian Aschka, Wilhelm Binder, Amoako Boafo, Roy Frederick Culbertson III, Louise Deininger, Zoe DeWitt, Veronika Dirnhofer, Peter Dressler curated by Christoph Rodler, Albrecht Dürer, Andi Dvořák, Veronika Eberhart, Julia Fuchs, Fanni Futterknecht, Hendrick Goltzius, Moritz Gottschalk, Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, Lena Rosa Händle, Hagendorfer, Eva Hettmer, Leon Höllhumer, Luisa Kasalicky, Terese Kasalicky, Jakob Lena Knebl, Larissa Kopp, Maria Legat, Elke Liberda, Roberta Lima, Ahoo Maher, Parastu and Ziba Malousy, Andreas Messinger, Stephanie Misa, Rini Mitra, Soso Phist, Madame Pipistrelle, Heti Hnah Prack, Michal Rutz, Andrea Salzmann, Hans Scheirl, Ruby Sircar, Alexandra Tatar, Patrick Weber, Charles Wilda, Julia Zastava, and many others


Curators : Moritz Gottschalk and Roberta Lima

Artists : Wilhelm Binder, BURLIN MUD’s Metal Mang Orkaestra, Hotel Butterfly, Alexandru Cosarca, Crazy Bitch in a Cave, Zoe DeWitt, Fanni Futterknecht, Moritz Gottschalk, Ana Hoffner, Lime Crush, Roberta Lima with Jakob Lena Knebl, Karolina Preuschl, Pete Prison IV, Brigitte Wilfing

The exhibition and performance project With Eyes Aghast: Transmannerist Reactions focuses on contemporary queer mannerisms in a critically playful way. The curatorial team’s invitation is aimed at an imaginatively grotesque distortion of the xhibit space and other parts of the Schillerplatz: surprising decorative fine art and architecture forms meet with burlesque and drag formats. Historical mannerism, which marks a rupture in every expression, finds a contemporary mirror in this transdisciplinary project, which pursues what Gustav René Hocke described as “the alchemy of language” in his work Die Welt als Labyrinth (1957, The World as a Labyrinth). Epigrammatically, as it were, the artists’ works counter socioeconomic constraints visible in emerging autocratic forms of power with a queer and decolonizing thrust.

The title of the project refers to the mannerist Sacro Bosco in Bomarzo where a sphinx welcomes the visitors entering the site with the following words: “Whoever does not wander through this place with raised brows and lips pressed tightly together would not even admire the Seven Wonders of the World.” (Horst Bredekamp, Vicino Orsini und der Heilige Wald von Bomarzo, 1985) The world of wonders that manifests itself in an overall mannerist concept challenges its vis-à-vis to creatively and actively intervene in the circumstances given and engage in their highest form, artistic expression and understanding.

3_Mitra Portrait
Rini Mitra, Portrait-2014, 2014
Acrylic on paper, 50 x 68 cm
Photograph: Christian Hetlinger

The garden as a site of the manifestation of and the debate on artificiality, of the disintegration of existing systems, and the reassessment of given hierarchies will be defined and discussed in a contemporary vein: (trans)mannerism may be understood as absolute empowerment on the basis of breaking away from the prevailing conditions and the creation of a physique of one’s own. Flamboyant: being a cyborg and rooted in “Creole” is what the manifesto amounts to.

The reconsideration of nature, the natural, and the polarities ensuring the charm of a garden or designed landscape has also informed the curating of the exhibition. The public will wander through different cultural regions and art-historical periods as artistic levels of meaning: the tour starts in the Garden of Paradise (Paradiesischer Garten) – a stroll between abstract ceramic signs with mannerism densely growing rampant between plants from Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s legacy and a vulvaminous fountain set off against an exploded pink Biedermeier garden bench including artificial flower arrangements. Historical mannerism’s number mysticism merges with Persian-Mughal garden architecture, and the square is celebrated as half of the infinite eight leading into the nirvana. Attaining the unattainable – the absolute physical frustration becomes tangible in the tondos of Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem whose fallen mortals impressively question strength and beauty against the background of a light sound carpet whirling through the show.

Offerus Ablinger
Zuckerwatte, 2015
(Cotton candy)

Oil and Indian ink on canvas, 250 x 155 cm
Courtesy Offerus Ablinger

Searching for the aha experience of nineteenth-century garden architecture, the visitor’s wide open eye will flit on and, after continuing on its way between abstract baroque tapestries and a filigree masked figure, fasten on the glittering and insane items in the Cave of Wonders: its cabinet of curiosities comprises Marilyn Monroe’s diary, a swinging baby narwhal, Albrecht Dürer’s lock which has started to grow profusely, a stage for the macho dancer, and enough room for an entire orchestra. The garden, which undergoes a slow metamorphosis in the cave, begins to develop a weird life of its own, leading its guests to a place of twilight and uncertainty: a world in between – the Purgatorio. In Bonfire of the Vanities (Fegefeuer der Eitelkeiten), popular saints offer protective mechanisms and take off the visitors’ shoes to enter the Eternal Night. Enlightenment can be gained by breathing between the felt textiles and the tinsel and glitter of a marriage bed, queerly picturesque lightboxes and musically pulsating and shining pictures and imagines. Resembling a rampant plant, the show does not remain limited to xhibit: young shoots are to be found in the foyer and the Academy’s Gallery of Paintings.

Julia Fuchs, Vanitas, 2015, Installation, Courtesy the artist

Layering and filling, accumulating and exaggerating have always been integral parts of all mannerist concepts of art. These moments also feature prominently in the performances putting the Academy and its buildings into a transmannerist frame on the occasion of the beginning and the end of the project. The idea of the masked ball and the ideal of artistic individuality and competition are emphatically enhanced by the beauty of witnessing a possibly alchemistic art form beyond its bearability. Be surprised – quite in the sense of Johann Friedrich Böttger.

Text: Ruby Sircar

Program accompanying the exhibition


Fri, December 4, 2015, 4:00 p.m. / xhibit
A Garden Walk

Elisabeth Priedl (art historian) and Christian Hetlinger (artist and curator) shed light on the art-historical impact of transmannerisms, relating individual works to contemporary and historical approaches and works, as well as to popular contents and media.

Sat, January 9, 2016, 7:00 p.m. / Aula
Salon Privé

The transmannerist journey will find its end and culmination in another rapturous series of performances in the Academy’s Auditorium on Schillerplatz: artists such as Hotel Butterfly, Lime Crush, Roberta Lima feat. Jakob Lena Knebl, Karolina Preuschl, Ana Hoffner, and Fanni Futterknecht will make the stage shine, while Pete Prison IV will delight the palate with his mobile Würstelstand.

Special thanks for their cooperation extend to

the exhibition committee, Ruth Lackner, the facilities engineering team, Hans Scheirl, Elisabeth Priedl, Andrea B. Braidt, and all students of the Studio of Contextual Painting, the Paintings Gallery, the Graphic Collection, the University Archives, the University Library of the Academy, Ulrike Auer, Gabriele Mayer, Christoph Rodler, and the many others who have supported us in this project to this point.

And in memory of Cornelia Reiter.

Andreas Messinger, get laid, 2015, Pencil on paper, 110 x 140 cm, Courtesy Andreas Messinger

As of November 5, 2015

List of entries

  • With Eyes Aghast: Transmannerist Reactions

    Opening hours: Tue–Sun, 10.00 a.m.–6.00 p.m., admission free
    Special opening hours: Open on December 8 and 26, 2015 and
    on January 6, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    Closed on December 24 and 25, 2015 and on January 1, 2016

    Opening and performance program


    Opening hours: Tue–Sun, 10.00 a.m.–6.00 p.m., admission free
 Special opening hours: Open on December 8 and 26, 2015 and
 on January 6, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
 Closed on December 24 and 25, 2015 and on January 1, 2016