This is happening --
Will Benedict, Herbert de Colle, Christian Egger, Michael Gumhold, Sonia Leimer, Stephan Lugbauer, Christian Mayer, Albert Mayr, Yves Mettler, Lucie Stahl, Herwig Turk/Günter Stöger, Nadim Vardag, Richard Zeiss
“(...) Each time is it like a miracle when after a shallow, fading period all at once there comes a small upward surge. (...) No one knew exactly what was in the making, nobody could have said wheather it was to be a new art, a new humanity, a new morality, or perhaps a reshuffling of society. (...) Talents of a kind that had previously been stifled or had never taken part in public life suddenly came to the fore. They were as different from each other as could be, and could not have been more contradictory in there aims. (...) People where divout and skeptical, naturalistic and mannered, robust and morbid, they dreamed of (...) glassy ponds, gems, hashish, disease and hedonism, but also of prairies, immense horizons (...) naked wrestlers, slave uprisings, early man and the smashing of society. (...) An analysis of that epoch might produce some such nonsense as a square circle trying to consist of wooden iron, but in reality it all blended into shimmering sense (...).“ Robert Musil wrote these words in his Man Without Qualities about the generation of 1910.(1) Similar sentiments apply to the present day and age. 100 years later empires are again collapsing, the social reality is quickly transformed and the reverberations are felt in the entire world.
This is Happening is less than a comprehensive survey show of young Austrian art and more than an arbitrary gathering. On the surface the entire artistic spectrum is represented – photography, painting, sculpture an installation art. However different the artists, though, to continue with Musil words (...) “something went trough the thicket of beliefs in those days like a single wind bending many trees (...) whoever entered the world then felt, at the first corner, the breath of this spirit on his cheek.“ Perhaps what unites the group of artists in this generation is a common feeling about the bankrupcy of spectacle based art: it is clear that there is also an affinity with earlier moments of art history when artists made pure, precise and concrete statements in their work. It should not be forgotten, though, that present day artists adopt as creative role models also musicians, film directors, dancers and writers; the question that occupies them is how to involve the audience in a comparable level and how translate what excites them most into their field.
In the present period the dominant creative paradigm shifted focus from the production of objects into the assimilation together of ideas, thoughts, images, personal experience and inner reflections, out of which coherent mental constructs are to be made. The buildings blocks can be themselves common ridiculous and low. The quality of an ideational structure depends on the economy, elegance, humor and structural brilliance invested in the construction. The primary problem, is how to communicate such things, how to transport them from one individual mind to others. For this reason, the creation of an interpersonal bridge is of primary importance in our day and age: without the presence of a group of likeminded people, able and willing to invest intellectual labour in decoding the mental collages of others, creative efforts seem pointless and even impossible. It is precisely because of the awareness of the horrors of hermetic existence, that so little doubt exist nowadays in the importance and urgency of a creative community, a zone where one is able to exchange ideas.
“There is no need to make much of this ‚movement“, said Musil, and his thoughts, once more, apply. “It really affected only that thin, unstable layer of humanity, the intellectuals, who are unanimously despised by all. The general population was not involved. Still, even though it did not become a historical event, it was an eventlet.“
Curators | Text: Martin Guttmann and Fiona Liewehr
(1) Robert, Musil: The Man Without Qualities, Picator, London 1997, pp. 53-54