MAK - Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna (AT)

21.06.2017 – 01.10.2017

Janina Falkner (AT) and Marlies Wirth (AT)

Padhi Frieberger (AT), Bruno Gironcoli (AT), Sofia Goscinski (AT), Nilbar Güreş (TR), Lisa Holzer (AT), Birgit Jürgenssen (AT), Anita Leisz, Paul Leitner (AT), Ute Müller, Julian Palacz (AT), Signe Rose (NZ), Günther Selichar (AT), Misha Stroj (SI), Zin Taylor (CA), Sofie Thorsen (DK), Patrick Topitschnig (AT), Kay Walkowiak (AT)

In a world increasingly shaped by digital technologies and interfaces, interaction between humans and things has become a focal point of interest. Against the backdrop of new digital and social settings, the group exhibition ich weiß nicht [I don’t know]—Growing Relations between Things analyzes the relationship between subject and object. In the framework of the VIENNA BIENNALE 2017: Robots. Work. Our Future, seventeen positions of contemporary artists, most of whom live and work in Austria, spin a narrative on the affect of things.
Objects—whether analog or digital—serve as tools (“media”) to configure our everyday world and thereby also shape our society. Through the Internet of Things, smart devices, wearables, and apps, it appears as though the objects we have designed are gaining ever more control over us humans. In this complex, networked world, how is it possible to maintain or reclaim our autonomous, sovereign lives? […]

Text: Janina Falkner and Marlies Wirth, MAK - Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna 2017

In Divine Monochromes (2015), Kay Walkowiak examines the late-modernist painting of the 1960s with a view to questions of craftsmanship, originality, chance—transposed to the India of fortuneteller. The work reads like a synthesis of multiple appropriations, taking its cues from Marcel Duchamp and Gerhard Richter as well as Le Corbusier. The artist paints colors on small cards, a reference to the palette of sixty-three hues Le Corbusier compiled in 1959, a richer extension of his 1931 color collection. The color sample cards are readymades of a sort, stuffed in envelopes and handed to a fortuneteller who works with a parrot as his medium. In a prolonged and monotonous unchanging ritual, the parrot repairs to its cage and emerges again to pick a card, producing four series, with the first cards in each said to be the artist’s luckiest colors, the second draw being the second-luckiest, and so on. Bafflingly, there is no drawing of inauspicious colors, though one suspects those might be the ones the bird shuns. The work revolves around the theme of fate or chance, around what one might call “planned spontaneity”—“planned coincidence” is the term Richter coined, primarily with a view to his color-chart paintings, which he started making in 1966 and has since created in countless variations (their number is only constrained by the number of color sample combinations one can think of). Disavowing the claim to originality, Richter sourced most of his motifs from photographs and copied them in gray, the hue that came closest to nothingness, also in order to avoid the dilemma of having to make a choice among motifs concocted by his own imagination or choose colors to be combined. Similarly, the color-chart paintings aimed to implement a “deskilling,” with the hues to be selected and combined arbitrarily, without the intervention of skill or intention. Walkowiak adapts the gesture by taking the palette from which the color concept in Chandigarh was derived and then having the parrot do the painting, as it were: the animal makes the choices, whereas the artist, interpreting the result by translating the patterns into digital pigment prints, merely executes them.

Text: Sabine Folie, Vienna 2016
Photos: (c) Studio Kay Walkowiak

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