The White Cube: What makes an art space

Gallery Run: May 2012

On The Town | Nina Prader | May 2012

Jonathan Meese's take on the Mona Lisa, at Akademie der bildenden künste (Photo: Rosi Radecke)

The notion of "the white cube" is now collective art knowledge. The ideology of what qualifies as a "gallery" has been consistently contested and reinvented. The redefined parameters of a gallery space spread across a wide spectrum from educational institutions to casinos to artists’ associations. These spaces inform the cultural production and add another layer to the discourse surrounding the exhibited content.


Xhibit: Johnathan Meese - Totalste Graphik

For the opening performance of Totalste Graphik, or Most Total Graphic Art, Jonathan Meese ranted on about "Erzkunst" for hours to a packed house at the Academy of Fine Arts. He stood behind a raised lectern, working up a verbal sweat. He passionately shouted against "idealism", "individualism", and "capitalism" and for the "anarchy of art" as the new political philosophy. His black tracksuit and death metal hair made him look like a rock star on a treadmill. With rising discomfort, the audience left the spectacle and went upstairs to the Xhibit, which is tucked away among the pillars and alcoves of the Academy.

Referencing dictators and their graphic visual language, Jonathan Meese is provocative and blasphemous, serious and absurd, creating post-ideological art. He only adheres to the dictatorship of art. The same Academy that once rejected Adolf Hitler, now gives Meese centre stage as he irreverently re-enacts visual codes of history.

Hitler has finally found a place here, thanks to Meese, at least temporarily, as through 27 May, Totalste Graphik is hanging a series of portraits of dictators and mythic heroes in wood cuts and lithographs, that also include Hagen von Tronje, Nero, and Meese himself – all sharing the space. Promising catharsis or at least an exhaustion of the ego, Meese strips the powerful of their iconic status.

A dark knight if not an anti-Christ, he regenerates and expels history, ideology, and childhood fantasy in the name of art. He presents a collage of photographs of his childhood and adulthood, a teenager’s bedroom wall with fragmented fantasies to his muse, Scarlett Johansson. In front of this wall, three televisions show him yelling about art and the gallery echoes of revolt.

In effect, he rekindles debate, as the viewer recognizes their political passivity: "Maul auf, Lolli rein, Revolution aus" ("Open Mouth, Insert Lollipop, End Revolution").


Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien/

Academy of Fine Arts

1., Schillerplatz 3

Thursday - Sunday 10:00-18:00


Ve.Sch: Ana Hoffner

Ve.Sch is an antidote to the traditional gallery. A wooden door on Schikanedergasse steps down into a cellar turned exhibition and artist hub. Every week Martin Vesely on Thursdays and Ludwig Kittinger and Fernando Mesquita on Tuesdays (Dienstag Abend) curate a shifting program that embraces contemporary media.

On Thursday, 12 April, Ana Hoffner exhibited survivability, formed and framed, a collection of performance documentation that challenges cultural norms. By re-enacting Bruce Naumann’s 1960s video piece Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square, she reinterprets and links his movement to queer-feminist politics. Performative relics lay on a table, arbitrarily related to one another, exuding the clinical sterility of a hospital: a gun, a syringe, duct tape, a glass of water, and a plastic bag. In this provocative display of objects, she questions the documentation of performance work.

Ve.Sch has been an alternative artist association for about three years now: An artist-run space subsidized by the government for the general and arts community. This art exhibition space runs parallel to the art market. Ve.Sch considers itself affirmative rather than antagonistic but is not geared to collectors. Not an "off-space" but rather an atelier in the public domain, the social element is just as important as the art: A place to drink and converse about art, space, and whatever might be the next wave.

This exhibition has ended; for upcoming exhibitions see Website below.


4., Schikanedergasse 11

Tuesday & Friday 19:00-24:00

0676 674 8796


Novomatic Forum: Helmut Margreiter

Leading in the international gaming industry with Swiss, Czech, and German casinos, Novomatic, like the Italian Medici family, sponsors the arts to create a dialogue between culture and industry. The ballroom and foyer of the Novomatic Forum exhibits Tyrolean artist Helmut Margreiter’s large abstract oil paintings depicting light and colour.

His works doubt everything fixed in form, opinion, and texture. His paintings are colour spectrums that stretch out like flat colour crystals on canvas. Margreiter addresses the universal and is inspired by Asian philosophy with his holistic approach. His works act like a prism, where lines morph into spheres, only to be ruptured and refracted as blotches of paint. The canvas becomes three-dimensional through its grainy surface texture. Margreiter’s paintings address what hides beneath the painted surface. Aphorisms accompany the paintings as little thoughts to chew on, entering the dimensions of colour.

Through 20 Jun.

Novomatic Forum

1., Friedrichstraße 7

Monday - Friday 10:00-16:00

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