Sean Lynch, Still from “A Blow by Blow Account of Stonecarving in Oxford” (2013–14). Slide projection with voiceover (19’), stone carving, rubble, photographs, museum artefacts, printed matter. Courtesy of the artist.
In his 1910 essay attacking the writing of Heinrich Heine"Heine und die Folgen” (Heine and the consequences), Viennese satirist Karl Kraus (1874–1936) identified two modes of what he called "intellectual vulgarity", an excess of content on the one hand and an excess of form on the other. "The one experiences only the material side of art", he writes, "It is of German origin. The other experiences even the rawest of materials artistically. It is of Romance origin." (In other words, French.) "To the one, art is an instrument; to the other, life is an ornament…”. Kraus thought that what he saw as the specifically Viennese development of dressing up Germanic culture with decorative elements imported from Romance culture was a bullshit ornamentation of the utilitarian.
Eulàlia Rovira and Adrian Schindler, ‘The Feet Fixed to the Ground Betray No Impatience’ (Els peus fixats al terra delatant cap impaciència) (2016), installation view at Fireplace, Barcelona. Courtesy the artists.
Opening on September 13, 6–9pm, at Galerie Martin Janda in Vienna (and on view until October 14), the exhibition ‘Cream cheese and pretty ribbons!’ curated by Latitudes brings together works by David Bestué, Sean Lynch, Eulàlia Rovira & Adrian Schindler, and Batia Suter to reflect on the apparent dichotomy between the utilitarian versus the functional, and the artful, refined, decorative, adorned, of good taste. The artworks in the exhibition have managed to find a way to escape this apparent dichotomy in how they treat form and content, using wit and storytelling, and engaging with seemingly mundane things in a magical way. Given that Kraus conjures up a world of robust public debate, whether on the pages of newspapers or in the cafés, the exhibition space has been devised as a kind of uncanny street scene.
Façade of Galerie Martin Janda. Photo by Anna Konrath.
‘Cream cheese and pretty ribbons!’ is part of the curated_by Vienna gallery festival inviting international curators. In 2018 the festival examines Vienna itself, its systems and contradictions, life between the baroque and present times. + info #CreamCheeseAndPrettyRibbons #CuratedbyVienna