Exhibition | 17.11.2006 - 02.12.2006
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Studio Building, Lehárgasse 8, 1060 Vienna
Curator: Adam Budak, Kunsthaus Graz
Maria Anwander | Eva Beierheimer + Miriam Laussegger | Katharina Cibulka + Philipp König | Alice Durst + Zoé Byland | Ana Ex | Monika Grabuschnigg | Maren Greinke | Zoe Guglielmi | Helmut Heiss + Jan Groos | Andreas Heller | Thomas Hesse | Bruno Hoffmann | Eleni Kampuridis | David Kellner | Silke Manz | Julia Maurer | Albert Mayr | Sissa Micheli | Diego Mosca | Julian Mullan | David Payr | Drago Persic | Martina Pfingstl | Miriam Raggam + Gudrun Gruber, Judith Gruber, Barbara Wilding | Linda Reif | Tina Ribarits | David Roth | Johannes Vogl | Julia Zborowska | Marko Zink as well as Institute for Conservation - Restaoration and students of the Studios Lainer and Tschapeller
In conformity with the tradition to ask an internationally active curator every other year to have an unbiased look at our program and its results, an annual exhibition will take place again in the Studio Building this year. After Harald Szeemann, Martin Prinzhorn, Kaspar König and Martin Fritz, Barbara Vanderlinden, Zdenka Badovinac, Daniel Richter, and, recently, Eva Maria Stadler, Adam Budak, curator of the Kunsthaus Graz, was now invited to assess the current production of the students at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, make a selection, and present this selection according to its thematic and formal focal areas.
Precarious life and its physio-psychological cartography is the main theme of this years exhibition, which presents altogether the work of over 30 students from all institutes of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, including studios of architecture and stage design, as well as featuring a special portrait of conservation & restoration department, "Refer - Relate - Memory".
Inspired by a close rereading of French Symbolist poet, Stéphane Mallarmé's experimental oeuvre, the curatorial project reconsiders an exhibition (and its mental and physical space) as a dynamic and open site of production of meaning and distribution of singular narratives that while remaining autonomous constitute a Constellation, Mallarméan unpredictably appearing spatial and semantic fusion which allures with a promise of order within seemingly superficial and unformed structure.
As such, this exhibition aims at both staging in a possibly objective way the condition of all instituts of the Viennese Academy AD 2006 (a study of subjectivity caught at the time of writing) and simultaneously orchestrating a common theme.
As a work in movement, a possible study of formation and a field of potentialities and becomings, this project revisits Mallarmé's spatial poem Un Coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hazard (1895) within the network of parallel trajectories of chance and precision, innocence and experience, failure and urgency. An act of "dice thrown" and a figure of a faun improvising constitute a framework, which embraces contradictions and sets up an operative rhythm for a collected art works in the space of the Academy's Mehrzwecksaal.
Precarious life - as a particular state of exception where vulnerability is at stake - takes place somewhere between the unpredictable of a chance and a coldly calculated precision. Mallarmé's infamous hypothesis of "All Thought utters Dice Thrown" constitutes one pole of the existence, the one exposed to a risk, the unknown and the unstable, thus uncertain and insecure but also open to suggestiveness, dynamic and polyphonic. "The dice which fall - says Deleuze while referring to Nietzsche - are a constellation, their points form a number 'born by the stars'. The table of the dice throw is therefore double, sea of chance and sky of necessity, midnight-midday. Midnight, the hour when the dice are thrown…" The roll of the dice is the power of affirming chance and arbitrariness in a precarious world which lacks (one) principle. Contrary to this, Badiou points out to a dimension of risk which contemporary world tends to reject in favour of more and more elaborate calculation ("it is a world in which nobody has the means any more to submit their existence to the perils of chance"). This obsession with calculating security coincides with an attention paid to precision-driven methodologies (Jordan Crandall). Here precision constitutes an attempt to "capture" the object in a more direct and efficient way, with a focus on accuracy and almost mathematical elaboration of a detail. Furthermore, precision might also be perceived as a drive towards reducing mediation and manifesting some kind of deeper, longed-for attachment to the real, not to mention a control over the real…
Chance and precision constitute two models of how to deal with a real. What lies in-between the seductiveness of chance (a sort of substitute of folding) and the allure of precision (a certain safe narrowing of an optic)? How to resist gambling? How to reject the predictable? Furthermore, what is the trajectory between innocence and experience? How to define singularities that shape aspirations? How to enter the matrix of pluralities that necessitate the becomings?
The title condition of waking doubting rolling shining and musing as a certain depiction of self-confidence in making is a particular volcanic line of Mallarmé and as such it does take on a responsibility of a (rebellious) metaphor which aims at mapping an academy as a site of a risk and a revolt (Badiou), a locus of (impossible) insubordination. In this search for self-definition, the precarious subject experiencing a trauma of a life without content (as a polemic with Agambenian definition of an artist as a man without a content "who has no other identity that a perpetual emerging out of the nothingness of expression and no other ground than this incomprehensible station on this side of himself") is being portrayed as a faun, a hybridic mythological figure, a hero and a narrator of Mallarmé's Improvisation of a Faun (1875) which, for Badiou is a peculiar identity quest, an elaboration of an act of naming where the trace and doubt function as active agencies of the "undecidable". Torn between a fundamental human desire and an urgency of subjectivity, suspended between waking and falling asleep, the faun, "creator of elemental fictions", commits a "crime" of infidelity to the "nymphs" - fugitive (objective) names, phantasms of reality yet to come. As such Mallarme's poem serves as scaffolding for an academy as a site of such "infidelities": here in an event of improvisation a construction of the "I" occurs, where the elaboration of traces and autonomy coincides with the fluctuation of desire, a process of formation with a temptation of going beyond a score.
Mallarmé's preface to Un Coup de dés as well as the theory of field conditions served as scenarios for exhibition's architecture. Here the exhibition appears as a conversation, a certain distribution of space made within reading where no transgression of a system operates but a dispersion of partial meaning. Such is the production of "probable sense": within simultaneous visions of the Page, "everything happens by a shortcut, hypothetically, storytelling is avoided". This mental setting which in fact reminds of a musical score is choreographed by a precise arrangement of parallel fields thus orchestrating a space of propagation which admits change, accident and improvisation. Here field conditions constitute formal and spatial matrix which while unifying diverse elements, it does respect the distinctive identity of each of them. Seriality and repetition legitimate the narrative threats running through the entire labyrinthian exhibition structure. Such architecture reflects the precariousness, leaving a space of the uncertainty of the real.
Text: Adam Budak