Hard Rock Walzer – Contemporary Austrian Sculpture is an exhibition that confronts the viewer with a play of contrasts emphasised also by the oxymoron of the title: sculpture, often defined as weight and volume, is presented at Villa Manin through many dynamic and unexpected interventions. The works do not merely represent space but they narrate it, and by doing so they bring about situations, create paradoxes, recall memories and emotions.
The title plays with one of the most famous Austrian symbols, the waltz, creating a new unlikely musical genre, but the paradox is also in the play on words that links the lightness of this dance to the firm and concrete presence of the stone, primary element of sculpture.
The show features fourteen artists whose works inhabit the villa with their metaphors, in some cases harmonizing with the past and establishing a dialogue with it, on others letting the antithesis encourage a reflection.
Through stage illusions and inversions of perspective, the installations of Fabian Seiz play with architecture and the perception of space.
Christian Eisenberger accumulates disposable materials and realizes crtical and destabilizing installations. For this exhibition the artist constructs a “church” with wood and cardboard investigating the relationship between physical reality and spirituality.
Also Elke Krystufek challenges religion, tradition and stereotype through a strongly autobiographical approach. Here a big brain, divided in two parts, talks about beginning, doubt, faith and failed communication.
Like a scientist Nikolaus Gansterer creates real laboratories to examine the world, leaving more possible outcomes open. In the show he exposes some plants to different kinds of music registering how this influence their growth.
Inspired by the minimalist tradition Werner Feiersinger creates sculptures that overturn the function of the objects and underline the paradoxes of forms.
Heimo Zobernig questions the role of the artwork by playing with illusion and merging a minimal approach with a deep analysis of space.
The twins Christine and Irene Hohenbüchler intervene in the villa by generating subtle visual short-circuits between the architecture and their work.
Thomas Baumann proposes a dynamic and flexible idea of sculpture that takes different forms adapting to the surrounding space.
Leopold Kessler analyzes the dynamics of authority and its public mechanisms presenting a curious interpretation of the Austrian police’s barriers.
Hans Schabus contradicts expectations and the order of things questioning at the same time the role of the artist.
With destabilizing irony Erwin Wurm creates works that challenge the static definition of sculpture, transforming everyday objects into anthropomorphic images and personifications of mental states.
Also the works of Werner Reiterer play with the concept of precariousness, in an improbable subversion of the real which alternates a striking black humour with an ambiguous optimism. Tragedy or luck, fate or escape, his work condenses in an unpredictable way different answers and interpretations.
The contradictions of the contemporary are revealed also in the bizzarre universe of Markus Schinwald who has asked a Chinese tailor to style a peculiar set of clothes. In his work bodies and objects endure strange metamorphosises and the logic of things is questioned.
Just as it happens in the paradoxical works of Gelitin who, with spectacular provocations like the giant pink rabbit laying on a mountain, make everyday and history of art collide.
Hard Rock Walzer – Contemporary Austrian Sculpture continues the exploration of the Centre for Contemporary Art of Villa Manin of neighbouring countries, nations whose identities and visions the visitor can further discover. After Instant Europe, which was looking at Eastern Europe, and EurHope 1153, focusing on Turkish art, Hard Rock Walzer talks about the heart of Mitteleurope, in the hope to involve the spectator in an energic and rapid dance on the notes of contemporary Austrian sculpture.
This show wishes to present the work of a group of Austrian artists with their different visions and approaches. By doing so it can reveal the reality and the specificity of a country like Austria, or reflect also a broadened, global and shared contemporary world.
Exhibition has been kindly supported by the Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur and the Austrian Cultural Forum.
List of artists:
Christine e Irene Hohenbüchler
Elke Krystufek, 2005
Courtesy Georg Kargl, Vienna