Kunsthalle Krems, Austria |
from 25 novembre 2018 to 10 février 2019

Andreas Hoffer, Curator of Kunsthalle Krems

avec le soutien de l'Institut Français /ville de Lyon et le partenariat de la Fondation Lafayette

Perrine Lacroix

During the month of April 2017, which I spent with AIR-ARTIST IN RESIDENCE Lower Austria, the quarter of Stein was one large building site, with the New State Gallery under construction and the Kunsthalle Krems under refurbishment. Only the imposing prison building, the Stein Penitentiary, seemed unmovable.

For the exhibition at the Kunsthalle Krems in November 2018, I wanted to re-explore those spaces as compared to my memory of that in-between stage of spring 2017. I intend to show them in a different temporality, prologue of a space in becoming, testimony of a process … in situ et tempore.

Kontext(e) is an exhibition project about the exhibition, its status, its history, its blanks, fullness, noises, and silences. The space under construction is an exhibition in itself, the freshly plastered walls resemble wall paintings, the stepladders sculptures, the plaster dust simulates a haze effect, and the scaffold an installation.
Their sheer presence in a museum space gives them the status of works. In the absence of a work, the ensemble is a work itself and prompts reflection on the influence of space and the workings of the work, which responds to the context which it inhabits and which inhabits it.

The Venus of Galgenberg is a Venus figurine of the Aurignacian era, sculpted from shiny green serpentine rock, dated to about 30,000 years ago and discovered in 1988 close to Krems, a replica is shown in the Museum Krems. Because the figurine exhibits a "dancing pose" it was given the nickname of Fanny after Fanny Elssler, an Austrian ballerina of the 19th century.

The first installationin progress, is a congelation of space in transformation, in becoming, a still image between past and nascence, building and ruin, a face-to-face encounter between the image and its place of birth, like a postcard sold at the shop of the museum where the picture was taken, a mirror against time.
Photographs of the space under construction are printed on drywall sheets and placed on painting carts, both supports and vehicles. This spatial setting, or mise en abyme, affords a visual return of the space in the making. It evokes the mobility of partition walls and encourages us to keep shifting walls and not fixate history. Presented at the very place where they were taken, the pictures are restored to their place of origin, an archive of themselves.

The second installation, Lina, is a set of glass panes, held by granite blocks, as a homage to the exhibition model designed precisely 50 years ago, in 1968, by Lina Bo Bardi for the MASP, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo. The Italian architect liberates the works from the walls. The pictures in the collection are no longer pegged on the walls of a succession of exhibition rooms, but are presented on glass panes distributed across one large glazed gallery.
This setting creates image and space, it invites walking around, getting into a closer relationship with the works, which then enter in a dialogue with each other in an overall view.
Here at the Kunsthalle Krems the ready-to-use glass panels, like photographic plates without images, are held by quarried granite, a material in the making, ready to be sculpted.
It all comes back to what came before, to the blank page, the beginnings. The drywall sheets ready to be painted, the granite set up ready to be sculpted, the glass panels ready to be printed on.

Leopold is a third installation, a cabinet of curiosities composed of a set of monochromes distributed in space. At the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, there is the 1650 painting of David Teniers the Younger, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in His Gallery in Brussels. It shows a cabinet of curiosities as 17th-century collectors loved to have in order to display their wealth, their good taste, but also the extent of their knowledge and their authority. Here only the lighting of the paintings from the last show remains, as their shadow in negative: a luminous presence which emphasizes the absence of the works shown previously but which also announces those of future exhibitions. The works are linked in time in a ghostly way and at the same time impregnate the memory.

In Teniers' work, this accumulation of paintings, all brought together on the same plane, reminds me of the checkerboards of pictures that you come across today on Google when doing an image search. This is what I did when learning about what happened in April 1945 in Krems. As soon as I typed in that date and place, a checkered array of colors appeared before me, like an abstract representation depicting those events, a placeholder. Then, in a second step, the images appeared, all reduced to the same plane, without any hierarchy, “chosen” only according to their visibility, according to algorithms we do not control.
This colorful checkerboard, a screenshot of Google search : Avril 45 Krems, resonates not only on the walls of the Kunsthalle but also on a wall in the Stadpark, in the same spirit as the painted facades of the medieval period in the city. This painted wall thus becomes a kind of abstract monument in homage to these disappeared.

The film Exit shows painters coming out of the Kunsthalle Krems when works were still underway. As soon as they are out, they slip back in, and relive, time, as if sucked in by history, the time of the prisoners from the adjoining penitentiary, “killed like rabbits” on April 6, 1945, after they had just been released. Exit makes reference to two animated photographic views of the Lumière brothers: La sortie de l’usine Lumière à Lyon (1895), the first film in history of cinema, and Démolition d’un mur (Demolition of a Wall, 1896), where, during a screening, Louis discovers reverse motion by rewinding the film without turning the lantern off: the first special effect of cinema.

In the publication Preface you are invited to write a preface of your vision of the world today.

The placards on the wall were made in a workshop together with a group of residents from Krems. Words of today is a collective work, a story conceived and written together.
The placards were also the focus of a utopian and poetic demonstration that took place from the painted wall in the Stadpark to the Kunsthalle on the opening day of the exhibition.

Kontext(e) confronts the status of the exhibition with that of the historical fact. What resonances, poetic and political, does art have in the museum space today?

(August 2018)