exhibition in tranzitdisplay
Tanja Widmann’s works emerge at the intersections of media and disciplines: between language and performance, object and video, text and installation, between theoretical reflection and artistic speculation.
Following from historical concepts of video-based performance, Tanja Widmann investigates the potential of language in both its openness and its intrinsic logic, as well as in its function as a social instrument of power and its role in the performative construction of subjectivity.
With the exhibition eine von euch [one of you], newly produced, Tanja Widmann embarks on a journey through time to the present – she returns to a historical threshold that can be considered the origin of our contemporary economic orders and labor economies, as well as of the concomitant (and resultant) structures of social networks and subject positions. At the same time, eine von euch conjoins these political-economic debates as a speculative constellation in a feminist perspective with questions of artistic authorship and collective production as well as the status of work, commodity and object.
The center and starting point of eine von euch are Tanja Widmann’s video performances, which can be seen on the three monitors in the main rooms of the exhibition. These are in turn based on disjunctive text collages, cut-ups and montages. At first glance they seem to incorporate an extremely divergent spectrum of texts, language forms and modes of speaking: starting with early speeches by Margaret Thatcher from the late 70s, through the research findings by the feminist primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, who investigated the social and aggression behavior of female apes in the early 80s, through Frederick Wiseman's observation of scientific research practices in his film ‘Primate’ (1974), Felix Guattari's psychoanalytical sessions with his patient R.A., several features from the popular BBC wildlife series, Jean-Luc Godard's Film “Sauve qui peu (la vie)” from 1980, all the way to contemporary artist blogs and the oedipal logic of Britney Spear’s Song “Mmm Papi”.
Tanja Widmann organizes the text material edited for the video performances in three chapters, which correspond to the three days of shooting for the production: Day 1: Behaviour (middle room), Day 2: Functional Anatomy/Sex (first room), Day 3: Economy/Ecology (last room). She uses no professional actors as performers, but rather young artists that she casts for her projects. What is collage-like about her scripts thus enters into a further loop of reproduction in the moment of performance. Rather than a performance of the text material that is as “faithful” as possible, the aim is to purposely work with moments of improvisation, omission and failure. The productive aspect of these strategies of textual and performative appropriation, which is articulated in the interplay of repetition and difference, is also mirrored in the form, in which Widmann extrapolates and spatializes her “working material” based on the video performances.
Augmented with objects, materials and display elements that Tanja Widmann partly takes over from the props for the video performances, combining them with elements from the storeroom of the institution, the objects move from the virtual space of the screens into the real space of the exhibition, thus entering into new constellations and reference systems. Like the text montages collaged for the video performances, the process of the installative set-up of the exhibition also preserves a central moment of polyvocality. This is partly due to the way Widmann transfers forms of collective working contexts which are, for instance, taken for granted in film production, to the terrain of art, and through the set-up of the exhibition in Graz, which was developed in collaboration with the artist Johannes Porsch. Yet it is also due to the way she integrates works by other artists – in this case the embroidery work by Tonio Kröner, who takes part in the video performances as one of the actors, as well as a painting by Albert Oehlen from the holdings of the artotheque of the Kunstverein – putting them into a charged relation to the other objects and materials in the space.
Tanja Widmann(*1966 in Villach, Austria) lives and works in Vienna. She is an artist, author, curator and lecturer at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Numerous performances, exhibitions and contributions to exhibitions, most recently including Generali Foundation, Vienna (2011), Manifesta 8, Murcia (2010), Augarten Contemporary (2009) and kunstraum lakeside, Klagenfurt (2009).
(text above is taken from Graz Kunstverein´s webpage: http://www.grazerkunstverein.org/tanja-widmann.html)
30.11.2012 - 10.2. 2013
opening 29.11. 7 p.m.
Dittrichova 9, Prague
The exhibition Tanja Widmann: eine von euch is co-produced with Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe and tranzitdisplay, Prague.
Thanks to the Austrian Cultural Forum, Prague.