Gallery Run: Exhibition Picture Show
Film, most agree, is an art form, although a passive one – an audience in a dark room eager to lose itself. But art is often claimed as a call to action, or at least interaction, in which the viewer enlists and engages. Three exhibitions this month explore the medium of film, the white cube instead of the dark room.
Ulrich Seidl, Love/Faith/Hope
After completing his feature film trilogy Paradise, director Ulrich Seidl wanted to put the film’s frames to the test by featuring them in an exhibition. His tableaux vivants cinematic style leads a trend in contemporary Austrian film: carefully composed, drawn-out takes work like an unflinching stare drawing in, challenging, or alienating the viewer. The next step: maximise the effect with stills in a gallery. The BAWAG PSK Contemporary is between directors at the moment. So the timing of the exhibition is interesting: BAWAG is a funder of the Diagonale Film Festival, which opened with the last of Seidl’s trilogy (See "Diagonale: How to Snatch Defeat From the Jaws of Victory", TVR April 2013).
All the conditions fell into place: an art space in limbo, hovering between management styles and art forms, displaying Seidl’s frames of static motion. Seidl’s Paradise trilogy is the pinnacle of his 33-year cinematic career. After pioneering the detached and scrutinising still-frame technique in film, the epic scale and theme of the trilogy and the incorporation of fresh and seasoned actors finally added the vivants to the tableaux. The exhibition shows only one actual Seidl film – his 1995 documentary Pictures at an Exhibition, featuring couples and individuals commenting on paintings, stills not included. The exhibition runs through 26 May.
BAWAG PSK Contemporary
1., Franz-Josefs-Kai 3
Daily 14:00 – 20:00
(01) 59905 919
This group show takes the various components of the film experience – projection devices, surfaces and spaces – in and out of context. In the last 50 years, film and video have earned a place in the range of art media options alongside classic painting and sculpture. Artists and art spaces have also had to evolve as the technical requirements of film and video demand more than just simple tactile materials and blank walls.
In the expansive front space inside the narrow storefront, Björn Kämmerer fixed a revolving projector on top of a giant wooden tripod. Looking up and following the moving image of a cyclist pedaling in the opposite direction of a rotating projection, the little square of light reveals the various surfaces of windows, walls and upper offices of the gallery. A winding staircase leads down into the inner bowels of the space to a series of ever-receding rooms. There one finds Tobias Putrih’s Pre-Projection: a giant inverted black pyramid hangs from the center of the high glass ceiling, its tip hovering over a little spoon on the floor. The tiny reflection of a flickering ceiling fan hidden within the artificial stalactite in the spoon’s shiny convex surface gives the feeling of looking at the first and last visual projection in the world. The exhibition runs through 4 May.
Georg Kargl Fine Arts
4., Schleifmühlgasse 5
Tue. – Fri. 11:00 – 19:00
Sat. 11:00 – 19:00
(01) 585 41 99
Jonas Mekas, I Lift My Glass to You, My Vienna Friends
Walking into the first part of experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas’ exhibition at the Krinzinger Projekte art space (running parallel to his retrospective at the Filmmuseum) a cacophony of sound and image greets you, videos vying for your attention. The effect is of a gathering of Mekas’ friends in Vienna, including the ubiquitous Hermann Nitsch and the late visionary Raimund Abraham. The videos feature their work, but more importantly, show intimate scenes of them sharing meals, laughing, conversing.
We feel Mekas’ gentle and lively presence everywhere in the exhibition, which also features cropped, enlarged prints from frames of his films and glimpses of his early and later life. Whether he’s smiling at us over a large plate of Wiener Schnitzel, or mugging at us alongside Salvador Dali, Mekas’ spirit is undeniable, tender and loving, like an old friend. Even the intense footage of one of Nitsch’s bloody rituals is somehow made touching and comical by Mekas’ innocent participation.
The inviting space of the Krinzinger Projekte is the perfect setting for Mekas’ work. An old set of tracks leads into a little courtyard and continues onto the floor inside all the way to the back, luring the viewer with the sound of laughter and children – recorded, but seeming real. A table and chairs decked with glasses, plates and bits of food enact a scene of people just left. Typed notes lining the walls include funny imagined messages from Mekas’ cats, who might walk in at any moment, longing for their owner, as we do.
The exhibition runs through 5 May.
7., Schottenfeldgasse 45
Wed. – Fri. 15:00 – 19:00
Sat. 11:00 – 14:00
(01) 512 8142