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Salon der Angst

19-12-2013 Mister Motley

'Angst' is a specifically German term for which there is no direct equivalent in other languages able to express the diverse meanings that come together in this word. Together with fear, anxiety and disquiet it is an existential and thoroughly human feeling. Everyone knows what it is but finds it difficult to put into words. The exhibition 'Salon der Angst' engages with those diffuse feelings of insecurity and threat, but also shows that the individual and collective angst-inducing experiences and events are culturally determined. The particular and central focus lies on forms of angst that are heightened by mass media or are intended to recalibrate its normal limits. 'Salon der Angst' takes the perspective of contemporary art and links it with selected historical positions, thus examining the angst of our times and opening up the emotional and socio-political spectra involved.

Gerard Byrne, 1984 and Beyond, 2005-2007 (still from scene 1), © Gerard Byrne, Courtesy Gerard Byrne and Lisson Gallery, London
Gerard Byrne, 1984 and Beyond, 2005-2007 (still from scene 1), © Gerard Byrne, Courtesy Gerard Byrne and Lisson Gallery, London

In his video installation, 1984 and Beyond, Irish artist Gerard Byrne has actors restage a 1963 panel discussion which was published in Playboy Magazine. Science fiction authors such as Ray Bradbury and Issac Assimov speculate about how the world will be in the Orwellian year of 1984. Fear of over-population, of global virus epidemics and, above all, of Russian superiority permeates their discussion. 1984 and Beyond is a succinct example of the economy of collective fear, in this case the product of the Cold War and its militant rhetoric.

Agnès Geoffray, Night 3, 2005 (photography from series: Nights, 2005-2007), © Agnès Geoffray, Courtesy Agnès Geoffray
Agnès Geoffray, Night 3, 2005 (photography from series: Nights, 2005-2007), © Agnès Geoffray, Courtesy Agnès Geoffray

French artist Agnès Geoffray uses an infrared camera to photograph night scenes of startled people. She creates visual moments between cinematic staging and documentary fiction which carry the potential for uneasiness from the very familiarity of what is being depicted: children lying in their beds overcome by fear, people at home surprised by strangers. The small format pictures pull the viewer towards them so that they, too, are effectively intruders.

Thomas Hirschhorn, Collage Truth No.33, 2012, © VBK Wien 2013, Courtesy Galerie Susanna Kulli, Zurich
Thomas Hirschhorn, Collage Truth No.33, 2012, © VBK Wien 2013, Courtesy Galerie Susanna Kulli, Zurich

Tobias Zielony, Danny, 2013 (photo animation), © Tobias Zielony, Courtesy Tobias and KOW, Berlin
Tobias Zielony, Danny, 2013 (photo animation), © Tobias Zielony, Courtesy Tobias and KOW, Berlin

_Installation view: Salon der Angst, Kunsthalle Wien 2013, photo: Stephan Wyckoff: Eva Kotátková, Unsigned (Gugging), 2011, Courtesy Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation, Vienna
_Installation view: Salon der Angst, Kunsthalle Wien 2013, photo: Stephan Wyckoff: Eva Kotátková, Unsigned (Gugging), 2011, Courtesy Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation, Vienna

The large scale exhibition 'Salon der Angst' in the Kunsthalle Wien moves between these two poles of collective, politically instrumentalised angst and its individual, aesthetically transformed counterpart. As an omnipresent narrative that is used as a defence against putative threats, anxiety and fear have an important function in today’s social and political processes. Angst and its related emotions are amongst the anthropological constants that can be found in all corners of the world. There are, however, cultural codings that have the effect of removing them from the sphere of the purely subjective. This form of angst—conveyed and promoted by events such as 9/11, the financial crisis and the social and political shifts resulting from globalization—are at the core of 'Salon der Angst'. 

Angst, here as the calculated effect of aesthetic production, stands alongside the more subtle mechanisms of contemporary angst-making; the political rhetoric of angst alongside individual experiences of it. 'Salon der Angst' is thus concerned with a multi-layered and existential condition from the perspective of the contemporary, but will also bring a historical context to the subject by presenting selected works by James Ensor, Alfred Kubin, Ferdinand van Kessel and Francis Picabia.

Installation view: Salon der Angst, Kunsthalle Wien 2013, photo: Stephan Wyckoff: Florin Mitroi,(©, Courtesy The Estate of Florin Mitroi and Johnen Galerie. Photo: Viorel Grigore); Wallpaper by Zin Taylor: The Proposal of a Surface (Lichen Wall), 2013
Installation view: Salon der Angst, Kunsthalle Wien 2013, photo: Stephan Wyckoff: Florin Mitroi,(©, Courtesy The Estate of Florin Mitroi and Johnen Galerie. Photo: Viorel Grigore); Wallpaper by Zin Taylor: The Proposal of a Surface (Lichen Wall), 2013

Installation view: Salon der Angst, Kunsthalle Wien 2013, photo: Stephan Wyckoff: Peter Fischli /David Weiss Dallas, 22. November 1963, 2013, Courtesy Peter Fischli and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
Installation view: Salon der Angst, Kunsthalle Wien 2013, photo: Stephan Wyckoff: Peter Fischli /David Weiss Dallas, 22. November 1963, 2013, Courtesy Peter Fischli and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich

New works, specially made for 'Salon der Angst', by Kader Attia, Marina Faust, Rainer Ganahl and Marco lulić will encounter loaned works by Jeff Wall, Willem de Rooij, Thomas Hirschhorn, Peter Fischli / david Weiss and many others. Canadian artist Zin Taylor conceived a large-scale wallpaper which works to de-familiarize the exhibition space. The staging of the exhibition as an open path in which various works enter into a dialogue emphasises the salon aspect of the exhibition. In the process, the feelings of fear and insecurity that are difficult to put into words will be rendered visible along with the mechanisms that produce it, and the media transformations it goes through.

Installation view: Salon der Angst, Kunsthalle Wien 2013, Photo: Stephan Wyckoff: Kader Attia: The Culture of Fear/ The invention of Evil, 2013, © VBK Wien 2013, Courtesy Kader Attia, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna and Galerie Nagel-Draxler, Berlin Cologne
Installation view: Salon der Angst, Kunsthalle Wien 2013, Photo: Stephan Wyckoff: Kader Attia: The Culture of Fear/ The invention of Evil, 2013, © VBK Wien 2013, Courtesy Kader Attia, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna and Galerie Nagel-Draxler, Berlin Cologne

Özlem Altin, dangling, 2011, © Özlem Altin, Courtesy Özlem Altin and Circus, Berlin photo: Nick Ash
Özlem Altin, dangling, 2011, © Özlem Altin, Courtesy Özlem Altin and Circus, Berlin photo: Nick Ash

James Ensor, My Portrait as Skeleton, 1889, © VBK Wien, 2013, Courtesy Mu.ZEE, Oostende, photo: Danny de Kievith, Oostende
James Ensor, My Portrait as Skeleton, 1889, © VBK Wien, 2013, Courtesy Mu.ZEE, Oostende, photo: Danny de Kievith, Oostende

Francis Picabia, Bonheur de l’aveuglement, ca. 1947, © VBK Wien 2013, Galerie Haas, Zurich, photo: Lea Gryze, Berlin
Francis Picabia, Bonheur de l’aveuglement, ca. 1947, © VBK Wien 2013, Galerie Haas, Zurich, photo: Lea Gryze, Berlin

Cameron Jamie, Front Lawn Funerals and Cemeteries, 1984–ongoing, Courtesy Cameron Jamie and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin Cologne
Cameron Jamie, Front Lawn Funerals and Cemeteries, 1984–ongoing, Courtesy Cameron Jamie and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin Cologne

Jeff Wall, Boys Cutting Through a Hedge, 2003, © Jeff Wall / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna, Courtesy SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna
Jeff Wall, Boys Cutting Through a Hedge, 2003, © Jeff Wall / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna, Courtesy SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna

Allan Sekula, Lockheed-Martin F-16 rollout. Polish Air Force base near Poznan. July 2009, 2007–2009, Courtesy Allan Sekula and Galerie Michel Rein, Paris
Allan Sekula, Lockheed-Martin F-16 rollout. Polish Air Force base near Poznan. July 2009, 2007–2009, Courtesy Allan Sekula and Galerie Michel Rein, Paris

The exhibition  'Salon der Angst' is on view at Kunsthalle Wien, until January 12, 2014. Visit the website for more information.

Artists: Nel Aerts, Özlem Altin, Kader Attia, Gerard Byrne, los Carpinteros, James Ensor, Ieva Epnere, Harun Farocki, Marina Faust, didier Faustino, Peter Fischli / david Weiss, Rainer Ganahl, Agnès Geoffray, Thomas Hirschhorn, Iraqi Children’s Art Exchange, Cameron Jamie, Jesse Jones, dorota Jurczak, Ferdinand van Kessel, Bouchra 
Khalili, Eva Kotátková, nicolas Kozakis / Raoul Vaneigem, Alfred Kubin, Erik van Lieshout, Jen liu, Marko lulić, Fabian Marti, Florin Mitroi, Marcel Odenbach, Jane Ostermann-Petersen, Francis Picabia, Willem de Rooij, Allan Sekula, Zin Taylor, noam Toran, Kerry Tribe, Peter Wächtler, Jeff Wall, Mark Wallinger, Gillian Wearing, Tobias Zielony 

Curators: Nicolaus Schafhausen, Cathérine Hug

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