Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien
Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien

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Thicket of Ideas
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Opening | 06.03.2014, 7.00 p.m.
Exhibition Dates | 07.03.2014 - 18.05.2014
Venue | Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, xhibit

Opening hours: Tue-Sun / 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. / free admission
open on 21.04.2014 (Easter Monday) and 01.05.2014 (National Holiday) / 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.

Artists: Alice Creischer & Andreas Siekmann / Maruša Sagadin / Ina Wudtke / Herman Asselberghs & Dieter Lesage


Herman Asselberghs, After Empire, 2012 (Video Still)

Courtesy of the artist & Auguste Orts, Bruxelles


Opening: Thu, 06.03.2014, 7.00 p.m.
Welcome address: Eva Blimlinger, Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
The last judgment triptych by Hieronymus Bosch:
Martina Fleischer, Director a. i. of the Paintings Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
The very last judgment triptych:
Dieter Lesage, curator

Hieronymus Bosch's triptych The Last Judgment is one of the most famous works in the Paintings Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. It was painted around 1500 at a time of radical change, during which the old feudal structures were shattered and the modern world and its capitalist system were born. The artists Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann, Maruša Sagadin, and Ina Wudtke have reinterpreted the triptych for the present day and, in xhibit, are showing their interpretations of the three panels in three-dimensional displays in the three rooms of the Gallery. The interpretations of the exterior panels in grisaille, created by Herman Asselberghs and Dieter Lesage, are being exhibited in the two connecting spaces between the rooms.

In The Very Last Judgment Triptych, the city and the world once again face final judgment. Unlike the work by Bosch, the topography of The Very Last Judgment Triptych is a radically secular one. The spatial coordinates of contemporary cosmopolitans, which The Very Last Judgment Triptych is intended to bring to mind, are no longer the Creation, Heaven and Hell, but the city, the state and Hardt and Negri's "Empire". The Very Last Judgment Triptych presents and questions different forms of redevelopment of the city, the state and the "Empire". It attempts to investigate whether ecological and economic cleanups are not merely an excuse to drive away inconvenient groups of people. Is expulsion the fate of the multitude? Anti-gentrification activists squat buildings, the Occupy and Occupy Gezi movements occupy places and parks; but the last image we see is the image of their expulsion. Does it have to be like this? What can we hope for? How can a more just world come into existence if we have lost faith in the prophecy of a Judgment Day? What day, which days do we want to celebrate as days of justice, even if we no longer believe in ultimate justice?

While today, real estate advertisements present the city as a secular paradise, a place in which the well-to-do should choose to reside, it is also the place from which the poor are being driven away. This expulsion from the metropolitan paradise, commonly known as gentrification, is the theme of The Very Last Judgment Triptych's left "interior wing" by Ina Wudtke. Her installation tells the multi-layered story of a years-long legal battle for the right to continue living in a rented apartment in Berlin. In her video The 360,000 Euro View, Ina Wudtke combines a view of Berlin's icon, the TV Tower, with a voice-over narrative reflecting on economic structures and individual living conditions, artistic production, and contemporary politics and city planning.

Creischer_Siekmann.jpg   Andreas Siekmann & Alice Creischer, Auf einmal und gleichzeitig, 2007, Courtesy of the artists  

With her new installation Meet The Residents, Maruša Sagadin relates to specific fragments from the right interior wing of Bosch’s Last Judgment triptych, while she simultaneously looks at the city and the variety of its residents. As a peculiar cabaret, her three-dimensional mise-en-scène seems to loosely reminisce on the Vienna cabaret Die Hölle (The Hell, 1906–1937), an example of an (also literal) underground counterculture to Vienna’s high and court culture. The self-empowerment project of a counterculture is conceived more abstract here, though. If power can be defined as a quantity or order and self-pity does not offer an option for resistance, a counterpower strategy might consist in staging oneself as big, too. This could have been exactly what the underground band The Residents did when they presented themselves as no less than alternative Beatles on the cover of their album in 1974.

The center panel of The Very Last Judgment Triptych is a cooperation project by Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann. The Video All of a Sudden and Simultaneously. A Feasibility Study. Musical Scenes on the Negation of Labor, part of their central triptych piece, documents a performance by Creischer and Siekmann, in cooperation with composer Christian von Borries and others, at the 2007 documenta 12 in a shopping mall next to the Fridericianum in Kassel. In the course of five musical scenes, the viewer becomes disenchanted with the world of commodities by seeing these commodities in the context of their production and the inhuman working conditions involved in that production on the global labor market.

The two works that constitute Belgian video artist Herman Asselberghs' contribution to The Very Last Judgment Triptych may be considered to represent the two exterior wings in grisaille in Bosch's triptych. Asselberghs' video Dear Steve is conceived as an open letter by the artist to Steve Jobs, asking him insistent questions about the conditions of production of one of the most beloved working instruments of many artistic producers, the MacBook Pro laptop. The scenario of a second video, After Empire, was written by Herman Asselberghs together with Belgian philosopher Dieter Lesage, the curator of the show. It refers to the book Empire by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt and is being premiered in this exhibition. The thesis of After Empire is that February 15, 2003 was a secular judgment day, on which millions of people in hundreds of cities all over the world protested against the war in Iraq. It may very well be that these images are chased by others, but art can try to keep the memory of uneasy images: 2/15 rather than 9/11. (Dieter Lesage)

Set of reference works for the exhibition
Publications by Herman Asselberghs, BAVO (ed.), Yves Christe, Alice Creischer, Jacques Derrida, Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, David Harvey, Dieter Lesage, Andreas Siekmann, Renate Trnek, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Ina Wudtke
University Library of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Reading Room, mezzanine
Opening hours: March 7 to May 18, 2014, Mon–Thur 9:30 am–6:00 pm, Fri 9:30 am–5:00 pm
Closed from April 18 to April 22, 2014 and on May 1 and May 2, 2014

Accompanying program