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]a[ exhibition space
Opening | 12.03.2015, 7.00 p.m.
Exhibition dates | 13.03.2015 - 17.05.2015
Venue | Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Main Building, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, xhibit

Opening hours | Tue–Sun, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., admission free
Special opening hours | Open on April 6, 2015 (Easter Monday), May 1, 2015 (national holiday), and May 14, 2015 (Ascension) / 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

An exhibition presenting the research project of the same name [supported by FWF as part of PEEK 2012–2015]

Artists | Anna Artaker and Meike S. Gleim

  Anna Artaker and Meike S. Gleim, Montage of pictures for the ATLAS OF ARCADIA Left / Rundling housing area in the district of Lößnig, Leipzig, built 1929–1930, architect: Hubert Ritter; photograph: LeipzigInfo.de, 1930. Right / Meeting of the United Nations Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2009; photograph: Pete Souza, The Official White House Photostream.  

Opening | Thursday, 12.03.2015, 7.00 p.m.
Welcome address | Andrea B. Braidt, Vice Rector for Art | Research at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Introduction | Pascale Ehrenfreund, president of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Anna Artaker and Meike S. Gleim, artitsts

The ATLAS OF ARCADIA presents fragments of a social history in images. The societal dimension of twentieth-century urban and technological developments is explored in image montages, whose images provide independent instruments of analysis.

The model for this approach is The Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin's draft of a history of the nineteenth century using the example of Paris. The motifs of Benjamin's history of the industrial age are transferred into the recent past, particularly the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The mirror motif from The Arcades Project recurs in the ATLAS OF ARCADIA in the form of digital photography and social media, the Haussmannization in the form of contemporary technologies for the control of public space such as surveillance cameras, etc.

The ATLAS translates Benjamin's method of "literary montage" (The Arcades Project presents itself as a montage of excerpts from letters, historical works, and other sources) into a montage of images. Images not only play a decisive role for communication and the passing on of knowledge in today's world - Benjamin would certainly have liked to work with images himself. "I needn't say anything. Merely show," he wrote in The Arcades Project, inviting his readers to regard his text montages as picture material.

© BildunterschriftAnna Artaker and Meike S. Gleim, Montage of pictures
for the ATLAS OF ARCADIA, 2014
Left: Self-portrait of Francesco Mazzola, known as
Parmigianino (1503-1540); photograph: Wikimedia
Right: First live-broadcast television debate between
the presidential candidates Nixon und Kennedy, 1960.

The terms ATLAS and ARCADIA stand for different aspects of the method used. The title of the exhibition describes a working principle.

You consult an ATLAS to look for a specific information or just browse through it without any objective in mind. This allows for a horizontal, associative and chaotic reading, in which the forging of bridges depends on one's imagination. Montages also associatively combine things from different historical and geographical contexts, things which, scientifically speaking, do not belong together. Yet this is exactly what paves the way for a different kind of understanding, a sensory and visual knowledge that permits us to see things that would otherwise remain unseen. This sensory and visual knowledge is the territory proper of the ATLAS OF ARCADIA.

In Antiquity, ARCADIA was seen as a pastoral people's home without any social constraints and in harmony with nature. The ATLAS uses ARCADIA to refer to a view that unmasks present-day phantasmagorical elements. It does so by analyzing how and where our built surroundings present themselves in a way insinuating that man is nothing but a flâneur without any influence on their organization. This phantasmagorical element becomes evident in the reconstruction of historical buildings like the Berlin City Palace (Stadtschloss), for example, which just pretends an organic continuity of history. Or in realized dream landscapes like Disneyland that disguise their commercial raison d'être.

© BildunterschriftAnna Artaker and Meike S. Gleim, Montage
of pictures for the ATLAS OF ARCADIA, 2014
Right: Symmetrical escalators in the
Guillemins Railway Station in Liège/Belgium;
photograph: A. Ypeij, 2011.

To expose something that seems to have always been there as a phantasmagoria, the historical gaze, which considers been what has been, has, according to Benjamin, to be replaced by a political one. The political gaze perceives the world made and organized by man as changeable. With its social history, the ATLAS OF ARCADIA aims at establishing a terrain for this political gaze.

A publication on the research project and the exhibition titled ATLAS OF ARCADIA will be forthcoming in 2016.

Sat, March 21, 2015, 4:00 p.m. + Sat, May 16, 2015, 4:00 p.m.
Guided tours
Tours through the exhibition with Roland Fischer-Briand, art historian and editor of Streulicht.

Fri, April 10, 2015, 2:00-7:00 p.m. + Sat, April 11, 2015, 2:00-6:30 p.m.
READING THE WORLD. What is visual knowledge?
Symposium accompanying the exhibition with contributions by Anna Artaker, Marc Berdet, Anselm Franke, Arno Gisinger, Esther Leslie, Lia Perjovschi, Meike S. Gleim, Antonia von Schöning, and Batia Suter.
In German and English.

Sat, April 11, 2015, 11:00 a.m.
Guided tour with the artists in English
A tour through the exhibition with Anna Artaker and Meike S. Gleim.