“Everything stays better (Alles bleibt besser),” promises the current chancellor who is running for his third term in the national election this October – A fitting slogan for the Austrian angst of anything that might change and an illustration for something that has changed, albeit in a frog-in-a-slowly-heated-up-pot manner, especially concerning art.
In the meanwhile, on Tuchlauben, Vienna’s elegant street in the city center, a taste of bitterness lingers at Bawag Foundation’s “Nothing but Pleasure” show, examining absurdity and irony from its contemporary collections, as if it is a metaphor for the recent Worker’s Union-owned Bawag Bank scandal which will eventually end in the Bank’s liquidation.
This summer, the Culture Minister, after years of haggling, did let go of Nazi-looted art by Gustav Klimt to the niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer after a dictum by an American court. In the face of losing a pre-eminent cultural treasure that once shaped the zeitgeist of the Modernist era, the Austrian public showed nonchalance. There was more sympathy with the Saliera, or rather with its snatcher, who took the treasure out of the Kunsthistorisches Museum three years ago without the annoying hindrance of an alarm or security guards and the help of a convenient scaffolding. Right next to it, on Heldenplatz, the most obvious installation this year was an oversized “Mozartkugel “, a chocolate ball respected by tourists and locals alike, a fitting sight to celebrate the Mozart-year – besides Amadeus salmon, Mozart yoghurt drinks, and Mozart sausages.
Although, or because, art dealers and city-run museums as well as artists are left on their own devices since 2000, when umbrella for state-patronage was removed, some of the Viennese contemporary galleries on Seilerstätte and Schleifmühlgasse have recently been the most aggressive promoters at major international art fairs. Austria showed off 22 contemporary galleries at ARCO ‘06 in February. The Viennafair 2006, sponsored by Erste Bank (a newcomer in the Austrian corporate art collection), took place this April with an emphasis on Eastern European art and an unprecedented power-selling attitude. 20 days in September and October will see the launch of the brand new “Vienna Biennale,” a slightly misleading title as it will take the shape of a fairground for young artists rather than of a thematic biennale.
Kunsthalle Wien, Paraflows 06 – Annual Convention for Digital Art and Culture in Vienna, September 9-16th, HYPERLINK “http://www.paraflows.at/” http://www.paraflows.at/ shows current digital creativity and state of net culture through local and international projects at various Viennese art spaces.
Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien(MUMOK), Joseph Beuys from the MUMOK Collection, August 4th-October 29th, HYPERLINK “http://www.mumok.at/” http://www.mumok.at/ Marking the 20th anniversary of the death of Joseph Beuys, Vienna’s MUMOK is showing previously never shown drawings and sculptures which had been done for his various exhibitions in Vienna during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Generali Foundation, …Concept Has Never Meant Horse, September 15th-December 17th, HYPERLINK “http://foundation.generali.at/” http://foundation.generali.at/ Titled from a quote by Daniel Buren, the exhibition presents socio-politically focused conceptual works from the 1960-70’s from its collection.