MARC CAMILLE CHAIMOWICZ
MONA VĂTĂMANU & FLORIN TUDOR ALL POWER TO THE IMAGINATION!
November 20, 2009 – January 24, 2010
Opening: Thursday, November 19, 2009, 7 p.m.
The Vienna Secession is pleased to announce the three solo exhibitions by Marc Camille Chamowicz, Michael Ashkin and Mona Vătămanu & Florin Tudor, each of them showing primarily new works created especially for the Secession.
The environment created by MARC CAMILLE CHAIMOWICZ (born in postwar Paris, lives and works in London and Burgundy) contains the quintessence of a multi-faceted artistic oeuvre. From performances and installations in the 1970s through designs for furniture, ceramics, and patterns for mass-produced consumer items, Marc Camille Chaimowicz has developed an unmistakable formal idiom and signature style. In what he terms “choreographies”, Chaimowicz takes pleasure in breaking down the hierarchy of applied and fine art. His belief in beauty and lightness, elegance and cultivation is expressed in his preference for graceful curves, delicate forms, and a characteristic palette of pastel shades. This nuanced approach reflects the ambiguity of the artwork, which is always situated somehow “in-between”. His pattern designs appear rooted in the painterly vocabulary of modernism, especially that of French painting, to whose legacy he feels attached. To underline the fact that even in the exhibition context, artists do not find themselves in a sociopolitical vacuum sealed off from the outside world, Chaimowicz invites guest artists to participate in his show.
In the Secession’s Galerie space, American Artist MICHAEL ASHKIN (*1955, lives and works in New York) is showing a video and a series of sculptures made of recycled cardboard representing proliferating settlements, designs for public squares, and prison architectures. His model-like topographies are characterized by the many ways in which they combine the realism of documentary inventorizing with a formal idiom of subjectivity and internalization. Ashkin’s sculptures are based on abstractions from aerial photos and finished buildings, possessing no specific identity in space-time. The distancing from reality inherent in any model is amplified by the monochrome material and the predefined perspectives of the plan and elevation views. His presentation of the sculptures as a site for thinking about space has a counterpart in the video work Here (2009). In terms both concrete and metaphorical, it deals with the desert as a habitat, a threat, but also as a spiritual experience.
The works of the Romanian artist-duo MONA VĂTĂMANU & FLORIN TUDOR (*1968 & 1970, live and work in Bucharest) are based on a politics of remembering diametrically opposed to the collective trauma that lies in forgetting and repressing the events of recent Romanian history. Their multi-part installation All Power to the Imagination! in the Grafisches Kabinett centers on a floating stage showing a fragmentary representation of the red and black flag of anarcho-syndicalism – now a global symbol for rebellion against hegemonic conditions within society. When stepping onto the double floor, visitors may feel a notion of instability. The resulting uncertainty symbolizes the social condition which has emerged as a consequence of a fundamental shift in values in the past twenty years. The film Poem (2009) shows the making of the banner with the words Trăiască şi înflorească Capitalismul! (“Long live and thrive Capitalism!”) which is mounted on the Secession’s facade. The text is a variation of the socialist slogan “Long live and thrive Socialism!” which was omnipresent in Communist Romania, thus reflecting the transformation from one system to another. In symbolic actions of visualisation and reparation, Mona Vătămanu and Florin Tudor campaign actively for a focus on and engagement with history. For the artists, this is essential to any understanding of today’s post-communist society.