Umbrellas, bananas and space affairs
The MUSA – Museum Startgalerie Artothek – is marking its fifth anniversary with an attractive exhibition.
And this in spite of the fact that the collection has been around much longer – since 1951 when the City of Vienna initiated its collection activities in connection with purchasing works by artists to support them. But as we all know anniversaries are a story for themselves and so instead of celebrating 61 years of collecting the organizers preferred to mark the occasion by focusing on five years work at the site on Felderstrasse. A site where quite a bit has been happening in the last five years with 19 exhibitions on socio-cultural issues and politics, monographic exhibitions as well as presentations of the work of 51 artists. The curators were able to draw on 30,000 artworks by 4,500 artists. A selection of them can now also be senn in the anniversary show.
Complex and sophisticated positionsAs already alluded to in the title, “Space Affairs” approaches this theme from a variety of different angles. Not only are some fifty artistic positions reflected in their specific way of dealing with the subject. All of the art objects are also arranged in the exhibition space so that they, too, create an artwork. This is something that MUSA director proudly underscores when he says: “It is incredible to see how complex and sophisticated this exhibition is. Each space between the things was precisely calculated so that all the works refer to the others.”
You certainly don’t have to be an expert when it comes to art to be able to notice the precise installation and the deliberately mapped passages that become clear to the visitors on entering the exhibition. The exhibition organizers can certainly be credited with having created a really successful symbiosis between the artworks and the exhibition rooms of the MUSA space – and this is not just flattery. This symbiosis does not just have a lot of aesthetic appeal, it is also fun to discover. The visitors are encouraged to discover how the objects relate to each other while they tour the exhibition. The only hints provided are the name and the title of the individual works, which include pieces by artists such as Heinz Gappmayr, Valie Export, Peter Dressler and Erwin Wurm.
Of umbrellas, bananas and…The selection was made by Marc Mer, professor for space-creating art and philosophy of space who also served as the initiator and curator of this exhibition. He let himself be inspired by Martin Heidegger´s “Art and Space” in which the German philosopher also referred to the dual meaning of the German word “räumen” (one reference is to clear space). On the one hand, it refers to the act of giving someone or something room and on the other hand it can mean filling a space or granting space to preserve something. The second word in the exhibition title also makes reference to philosophy – Affaire (á faire – to do, to make). This alludes likewise to space in the sense of something that is “made” and is governed by the relations between certain things.
However, one doesn’t have to opt for a philosophical approach to the exhibition to be able to discover interesting things. Exploring “Space Affairs” is fun and one does not necessarily have to reflect on the more arcane underpinnings of the show. Whether the viewer feels more drawn to the photographs depicting moldy bananas in a car or is more impressed by the futuristic looking locker sculpture or stares into the black hole of something resembling a bag or prefers to find a comfortable place under an umbrella dangling from the ceiling – there are certainly a number of interesting things to discover in this charming exhibition. The only thing that seems to be missing is Pan Tau’s famous bowler hat which could also be used to expand the space.
Space Affairs/Raumaffären/Affaires d’espace
19 June to 6 October 2012
MUSA – Museum Startgalerie Artothek
Vienna 1, Felderstraße 6-8 (next to the City Hall)
Opening hours: Tue, Wed, Fri: 11.00–18.00 | Thu: 11.00–20.00 | Sat: 11.00–16.00, closed Sun, Mon, holidays
T: +43 (0)1 4000-8400