Heidrun Holzfeind

Heidrun Holzfeind, Carpet (after Erna Lederer) Wool, 230×420 cm, 2012

Created for Holzfeind solo show at BAWAG Contemporary in Vienna as part of a larger group of works about the Austrian architect and designer Ernst Schwadron (1896-1979). Schwadron’s penthouse apartment was located on the top floor of Franz Josefs Kai 3, in the building owned by his family. Today BAWAG’s exhibition spaces occupy the ground floor of the same building (the former showrooms of the ceramics company Brüder Schwadron.)

In an interior design magazine published in 1930,  a carpet designed by the painter Erna Lederer, Schwadron’s first wife is shown. According to the description in the accompanying article, the carpet was handwoven in white, grey and brown wool. For the exhibition the carpet was reproduced following the logic of the black and white photograph in white, grey and a dark (brownish) grey. During the exhibition the carpet lay exacty five floors below its original position in Schwadron’s penthouse apartment, 82 years after the photograph of the “great hall” was published.

The carpet raises questions concerning the whereabouts of the furnishings of the apartment Schwadron left in 1938 when he was forced to emigrate. (The Vienna Gestapo seized the entire property on January 24, 1941.) Did Schwadron sell or give away the furniture and carpets before his escape, did he ship them to New York, or did he leave them behind.

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Photography: Yaakov Israel


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Yaakov Israel, The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey, 2012

“As per the Orthodox Jewish tradition, the Messiah (the Prophet) will arrive riding on a white donkey.

A few years ago, as I was photographing near the Dead Sea, a Palestinian man rode past me on his white donkey and I took a picture of him. It was after having developed this plate that I realized that I had encountered my “Messiah”; it was this chance encounter which brought me to initiate the body of work that carries the name: The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey.

As my messenger started to reveal the “message”, the search for a deeper understanding of my country and what defines me as an Israeli became an urge to look for the in-between places, the unexpected situations; suddenly a detail requested my attention as I stood for hours waiting for a meaning to reveal itself, or pushed me away, puzzled. But in the end I had to hold on to it. I could not let go until that detail was made mine, until the elusive and enigmatic found their place in my understanding of what I deemed as an authentic, real encounter.

In Israel I feel that the evidence of the past is strongly intertwined with the marks of the present and the questions about our future. This is why it is sometimes possible to see the past, present and future revealed in front of one’s eyes at the same time.Part of my identity as an Israeli is to question everything, not to take anything for granted, to show the tensions that constantly exist, to convey the truth behind the reality. Religious, social aspects filter into everyday life and their meanings are revealed as the journey moves on. Jewish missionaries, lost souls and individuals living on the fringe of society, all blend into this landscape of humanity.” Yaakov Israel, January 2012

Yaakov Israel was born in 1974 in Jerusalem, Israel where he lives and works.He graduated in 2002 (B.F.A) with honors from the Department of Photography at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. Following his graduation he received a scholarship from the Academy for an additional year of research and work on a project. In his work he constantly investigates the Israeli identity as perceived through architecture, landscape and the people living in his country. He finds that he is drawn to document places that are from one point of view characteristic of the Israeli landscape but on the other hand are not noticeable to most.


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Artist: Pilvi Takala

Pilvi Takala, Welcome to Deloitte,  Letter and Key Card, The Trainee, 2008

Takala typically trespasses in smaller microcosms, using herself or hired actors and a hidden camera to document a single, subtle act of transgression of established social conduct. In doing so, she unsettles the unspoken rules of these ambiguous societies. Takala, with her unassuming but stubborn demeanour, has just the right tenor of awkward tension and implicit danger. When watching her videos, it’s easy to forget that she is not breaking any specific rules. Like artists such as Sophie Calle, Adrian Piper or Andrea Fraser before her, she tests the boundaries of how threatening or non-threatening a young female artist violating social codes can be.

For Bag Lady (2006), Takala spent several days browsing in a Berlin shopping mall while carrying a clear plastic bag filled with wads of euro notes. While this obvious display of wealth should have made her the ‘perfect customer’, instead she only aroused suspicion from security guards and disdain from shopkeepers. Others urged her to accept a more discreet bag for her money.

Takala also brushed up against the unwritten laws of capitalism in The Trainee (2008), for which she procured a job as a trainee in the marketing department at Deloitte in Helsinki. In her documentation of this month-long performance, Takala sits motionless, like a modern-day Bartleby, at an empty desk. When co-workers attempt to make polite conversation, she replies that she’s ‘doing a bit of brain-work’ or ‘working on my thesis’. But a string of increasingly urgent inter-office emails she obtained shows what they really thought of the new trainee with ‘very short hair’: ‘Obviously she has some sort of mental problem.’ We see how disarmed her colleagues are by her refusal to conform to the rules of the corporate workplace. But we also see how difficult it is for them to break out of their own habits to openly confront her. One video documents an entire day Takala spent going up and down in the office lift. ‘You’re thinking again?’, asks a bemused businessman after his second encounter with the artist. ‘It helps me to see things from a different perspective,’ she explains.

In all these interventions, Takala’s attempt to ‘see things from a different perspective’ emerges as a metaphor for art making, and the suspicion and trepidation with which it’s often regarded in the culture at large. The loneliness that Takala herself likely experiences as an itinerant artist is captured most poignantly inWallflower (2006), which she filmed in a traditional Finnish dancing club. Though the clubs are mostly popular with elderly couples, Takala arrived, unaccompanied, in a rippling floor-length ballroom gown. She sits alone all night until, finally, an old man asks her to dance, and leads her gracefully across the otherwise empty dance floor. Takala’s performance demonstrates how even the most modest or minor infraction can begin to make small, visible cracks in the ice of the social order.

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The Sound of Downloading Makes Me Want to Upload, The Institute of Social Hypocrisy

The Sound of Downloading Makes Me Want to Upload, The Institute of Social Hypocrisy, 2010
Published by Lauren Monchar & The Institute of Social Hypocrisy. Edition of 1000

Edited by Victor Boullet, the resulting collection of essays, images and musings reveals the disparate perspectives of the various up and downloaders. It illustrates how the internet is used and manipulated as a creative tool and is a font of information and communication at every level.

Contributors include Peter J. Amdam, Markus Thor Andresson, Theodor Barth, Sophie Barth, Rasmus Thirup Beck, Victor Boullet, Merlin Carpenter, Lorenzo Cirrincione, Keren Cytter, Guy Debord, Bill Drummond, Paul Andreas Enger, Matias Faldbakken, Bentley Farrington, Ullrich Fichtner, Anna Franck, Gilbert & George, Evan Haning, Nate Harrison, Iselin Linstad Hauge, Karl Holmqvist, Jason Hwang, Marte Johnslien, Ray Johnson, Brian Kennon, Svein Kojan, Adam Kurdahl, Oliver Laric, Pablo Larios, Matthieu Laurette, David Lewis, Tobias Madison, Edie McKay, Bjarne Melgaard, Han Nefkens, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Tommy Olsson, Matt Packer, Richard Parry, Dr Nina Pearlman, Thomas Petitjean, Joe Scanlan, Chris Sharp, Sutton Lane, Kristian Skylstad, Kristina Skylstad, Brad Troemel & Jonathon F. Williams.

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Film: Ben Rivers, Slow Action, 2010


Still from Ben Rivers, Slow Action, 2010

Slow Action is a post-apocalyptic science fiction film that brings together a series of four 16mm works which exist somewhere between documentary, ethnographic study and fiction.

Continuing his exploration of curious and extraordinary environments, Slow Action applies the idea of island biogeography, the study of how species and eco-systems evolve differently when isolated and surrounded by unsuitable habitat,  to a conception of the Earth in a few hundred years; the sea level rising to absurd heights, creating hyperbolic utopias that appear as possible future mini-societies. This series of constructed realities explores the environments of self-contained lands and the search for information to enable the reconstruction of soon to be lost worlds.

The film’s soundtrack, narratives by writer Mark von Schlegell, detail each of the four islands’ evolutions according to their geographical, geological, climatic and botanical conditions.

Slow Action, inspired by novels such as Samuel Butler’s Erewhon, Bacon’s The New Atlantis, Herbert Read’s The Green Child and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, embodies the spirit of exploration, experiment and active research that has come to characterise Rivers’ practice.

Commissioned by Picture This and Animate Projects in association with Matt’s Gallery, London.

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Sculpture: Nina Beier

Nina Beier, Shelving for Unlocked Matter and Open Problems, Detail, 2010

Of any artist working today, 35-year-old hyper-mixed-media artist Nina Beier is creating some of the boldest examples of the contemporary artwork in crisis mode. This has a lot to do with the unstable, in flux, usually-referencing-something-absent, often-crushed-or-pieced-together, and likely-to-change nature of her sculptural explorations.

Take her seemingly straightforward work, On the Uses and Disadvantages of Wet Paint, 2010, which may look like a large blotch of test paint on a blank wall; instead, it’s a savvy institutional critique on the art of backdrops, in which Beier raids a given museum’s paint stockpile to reapply a new color on the same spot intermittently. Another example of Beier using the system against itself is her photographic piece What Follows Will Follow II: Installation shots of works from a previous show become the work framed in the next one, an idea that could breed an endless chain of recycled and re-rerecyled imagery.

The Danish-born Beier gets much of her creative impulses from philosophy and literature (Heidegger and Lewis Carroll are recent touchstones). But for all of the theoretical uplift, the end result is provocatively tactile. Her most recent productions include dipping photographic stock images in glue and hanging them to dry on mass-produced household items, thus using an image to utterly envelop an actual thing. Another series involves found secondhand fabrics stuffed together inside a frame to create an almost Arte Povera-esque surface on the verge of busting open.

Beier has been living in Berlin for the past three years after starting her career in London. “I moved mainly because I was attracted to the qualities of an underpopulated city,” she says. “I guess the pace of the city is a little slower than other cities I have lived in, but I find the contrary to be true when it comes to the productivity of artists who live here.”

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Artist: Dough Aitken


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Dough Aitken, Now, 2010, Now, 2009 and Fountain (Earth Fountain), 2012

Central to Doug Aitken’s “100 YRS” exhibition is a new “Sonic Fountain,” in which water drips from 5 rods suspended from the ceiling, falling into a concrete crater dug out of the gallery floor. The flow of water itself is controlled so as to create specific rhythmic patterns that will morph, collapse and overlap in shifting combinations of speed and volume, lending the physical phenomenon the variable symphonic structure of song. The water itself appears milky white, as if imbued and chemically altered by its aural properties, a basic substance turned supernatural. The amplified sound of droplets conjures the arrhythmia of breathing, and along with the pool’s primordial glow, the fountain creates its own sonic system of tracking time.

Behind a cavernous opening carved into the gallery’s west wall is “Sunset (black),” a sculptural work that resembles cast lava rock in texture and spells out the word SUNSET as it glows from behind, its letters forming a relic of the entropy and displacement inherent in the literal idea of a sunset. Viewed from and obscured behind a hole in the wall, the sculpture appears as cosmic debris, as if pulled from a parallel world where a sunset is only an idea, obfuscated by detritus of the age of post-everything, a reductionist standpoint between the modes of pop and minimalism, its glow fading into the next realm. Also on view is the mirrored sculpture “MORE (shattered pour)”. Like a time-piece, the work creates a kaleidoscope of reflections of all that surrounds it. As if it were a fragmented film, “MORE (shattered pour)” creates a literal manifestation of the present and aspirational escapism, which cannot be viewed without glimpsing a piece of one’s self within the work’s reflections. Another refraction of time is glimpsed through “Fountain (Earth Fountain)”, created from plexiglas letters spelling the word “ART”, through which a slurry of moist dirt is pumped, physical earth perpetually redoubling and standing in for itself. The word ART itself subverts the entropy of time, creating a holding pattern that organic matter cannot escape from. The flickering lightbox “not enough time in the day” completes the communicative supercurrent of shimmering malaise, its letters overlapping as if seen inebriated, somehow both more profound and less understandable. The work creates a cycle that is both hypnotic and inescapable.

Doug Aitken lives and works in Los Angeles and and New York. In March 2013, the Seattle Art Museum will install “Mirror,” a monumental new commission made of LED’s, permanently installed on the museum’s facade, while the Miami Art Museum will reopen its new building with the outdoor large scale projection of “sleepwalkers (miami).” In addition, SFMOMA in San Francisco is making plans for a large-scale citywide installation of Aitken’s Empire Trilogy in site-specific locations. Aitken’s work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world, in such institutions as the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Vienna Secession, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. He participated in the Whitney Biennial 1997 and 2000 and earned the International Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999. Aitken’s “Sleepwalkers” exhibition at MoMA in 2007 transformed an entire block of Manhattan into a cinematic experience as he covered the museum’s exterior walls with projections. In 2009, his Sonic Pavilion opened to the public in the forested hills of Brazil at INHOTIM. Continuing his work in innovative outdoor projects, Aitken presented his film and architecture installation “Frontier” on Rome’s Isola Tiberina in 2009, the multiform artwork “Black Mirror” on a uniquely designed barge floating off Athens and Hydra Island in 2011, and “Song 1″ projected onto the circular facade of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC in 2012.


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Fashion Photography: Alexei Hay

George Condo by Alexei Hay, 2012

Alexei Hay spent his early years in Miami, Tehran and New York. After graduating from Brown University for literature, he moved back in with his mother and assisted a range of photographers.

Drawing upon the catholic range of lighting techniques that he encountered as an apprentice, Alexei began to develop his own approach to portrait photography. Known for playing light and fast with different genres and applications of the camera, Hay cast his net far and wide over the commercial arena.

He feels that photography is one way of living up to his rabbi’s maxim- “keep your eyes on your teachers.” He lives with his wife Batsheva and daughter Ruth Freydel on the Upper West Side.

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Film: The Corporation, 2003

The documentary The Corporation, 2003 looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.

‘Drawing the metaphor of the early attempts to fly. The man going off of a very high cliff in his airplane, with the wings flapping, and the guys flapping the wings and the wind is in his face, and this poor fool thinks he’s flying, but, in fact, he’s in free fall, and he just doesn’t know it yet because the ground is so far away, but, of course, the craft is doomed to crash.

That’s the way our civilization is, the very high cliff represents the virtually unlimited resources we seem to have when we began this journey. The craft isn’t flying because it’s not built according to the laws of aerodynamics and it’s subject to the law of gravity. Our civilization is not flying because it’s not built according to the laws of aerodynamics for civilizations that would fly. And, of course, the ground is still a long way away, but some people have seen that ground rushing up sooner than the rest of us have. The visionaries have seen it and have told us it’s coming.

“There’s not a single scientific, peer-reviewed paper published in the last 25 years that would contradict this scenario: every living system of earth is in decline, every life support system of earth is in decline, and these together constitute the biosphere, the biosphere that supports and nurtures all of life, and not just our life but perhaps 30 million other species that share this planet with us.”

The typical company of the 20th century: extractive, wasteful, abusive, linear in all of its processes, taking from the earth, making, wasting, sending its products back to the biosphere, waste to a landfill.’


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