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A project realized in cooperation with the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo
Exhibition: 21 January - 20 March 2005
Exhibition spaces of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, daily from 11 am to 18 pm

© Christian Mayer|The team of Mark Dion   The team of Mark Dion
© Christian Mayer

Concept: Mark Dion

Artists: Franz Christoph Amann, Walmor Correa, Karin Felbermayr, Bartolomeo Gelpi, Christian Mayer, Georg Paul Tiller

At the invitation of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, four Academy students and two Brazilian graduates traveled Brazil under the American artist Mark Dion's curatorial direction and the Ender scholar Dr. Robert Wagner's expert guidance in the spring of 2004. The excursion was aimed at the joint development of the project "The Brazilian Expedition of Thomas Ender - Reconsidered."

Starting point of the artistic exploration were the works Thomas Ender realized as a young landscape painter and participant in the Austrian expedition to Brazil between 14 July 1817 and 1 June 1818. This scientific expedition, which also included the zoologist and ethnographer Johann Natterer and the Bavarian naturalists Johann Baptist Spix and Carl Friedrich Philipp Martius, had been sent to Brazil on the occasion of the marriage of Dom Pedro, Crown Prince of Portugal and Brazil, and the Austrian Archduchess Leopoldine in Rio de Janeiro in 1817. On his return, Thomas Ender (born in Vienna in 1793, died in Vienna in 1875, Professor at the Academy from 1824 to 1850) presented 763 watercolors and drawings to the Austrian Emperor Franz I, which constitute one of the most beautiful complete work groups of the Biedermeier and are part of today's holdings of the Prints and Drawings Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

The completion of the new inventory and documentation of the collection by the Austrian historian, Ender expert and Director of the Academy's University Library Dr. Robert Wagner offered an occasion to invite the internationally renowned artist Mark Dion to realize a project together with the Academy. In his installations, performances, drawings, and photographs, the artist combines a critical view of institutions with scientific and political insights and reflects nature in regard to its function as a cultural construct. The present project is based on the anachronistic model of expeditions and aimed at questioning the historical idea of a form of traveling dedicated to nothing but the production of knowledge and attempting a reinterpretation of the expedition concept which, due to its colonial associations, has had a negative undertone for a long time. Ender's works serve as a medium for the consideration of nature, traveling, history, and ethnography in today's discourse.

© Melina Valenta|The project team   The project team "The Brazilian Expedition of Thomas Ender - Reconsidered"
© Melina Valenta

Mark Dion assembled a new "expedition team" including four students from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and two Brazilian artists for the project "The Brazilian Expedition of Thomas Ender - Reconsidered." The group followed in Ender's tracks through Brazil, with each member of the team taking on the part of a participant in the historical expedition: Franz Christoph Amann (second naturalist), Walmor Correa (botanist), Mark Dion (naturalist), Karin Felbermayr (ambassador), Bartolomeo Gelpi (ethnographer and landscape artist), Christian Mayer (chronicler), and Georg Paul Tiller (cartographer). Dr. Robert Wagner took the group to the most important places of origin of Thomas Ender's watercolors: the old city center of Rio de Janeiro, the woods of Tijuca, to Ouro Preto, and Mariana, as well as to São Paulo.

The works developed during the expedition were at first be shown in a joint presentation initiated by Mark Dion at the Bienal de São Paulo from 25 September to 19 December 2004 - now they are made accessible to the public together with Enders original paintings at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna from 21 January to 20 March 2005.

The realization of the project has been kindly supported by Air France, BA-CA, Foto Leutner and Lenz Moser AG.

© Bartolomeo Gelpi|The expedition team in Ouro Preto, Mai 2004   The expedition team in Ouro Preto, Mai 2004
© Bartolomeo Gelpi
© Robert Wagner|Mark Dion, Mai 2004   Mark Dion, Mai 2004
© Robert Wagner
© Academy of fine arts vienna|A look at the exhibition in Sao Paulo   A look at the exhibition in Sao Paulo
© Academy of fine arts vienna

Robert Wagner, Júlio Bandeira: Eine Reise nach Brasilien. Aquarelle von Thomas Ender 1817-1818, Kapa Editorial, Petrópolis 2003
25.- €, available in the University Library Reading Room of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna