[UN]NATURAL LIMITS – Austrian Cultural Forum New York

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Jan 23 – April 1, 2013

Austrian Cultural Forum New York 11 East 52nd Street – New York, NY 10022

Artists: Desire Machine Collective, Thomas Hirschhorn, Mathias Kessler, Superflex, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Lois Weinberger
Curated by Dieter Buchhart & Arnaud Gerspacher
Curatorial Advisor: Mathias Kessler

The new international group exhibition [UN]NATURAL LIMITS, which opened on January 22nd, gathers together different artistic reactions to the alienating effects of the unfettered global exploitation of resources, and offers insight into the denial and myopia of current political responses to what increasingly appears to be a perpetual crisis.
It focuses on the environmental relays sent back in response to our human activities (or failures to act), while giving voice to various groups, thinkers, and artists who seek to interrupt narcissistic and destructive self-involvements in society.

The exhibition, which was commissioned by the Austrian Cultural Forum’s director Andreas Stadler and curated by the Viennese-New York team of Dieter Buchhart and Arnaud Gerspacher, maintains a deep ambiguity towards the modernist legacies of endless expansion and selective prosperity, as our social and political systems slowly begin to confront the limits of growth and sustainability. Each artist or collective poses a challenge to the perceived limits that condition our understanding of the world: on the one hand, the limited prospect for action, compassion, and change, while on the other, the limitless drive for resources and capital in all its forms. A reversal is necessary: it is compassion that should be limitless.

The show will include an installation by Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn titled Resistance-Subjecter (2011), which was first shown as part of his Crystal of Resistance at the Venice Biennial 2011. The bodies of the eight mannequins have seemingly been infested and corroded by 1 million year-old crystals. We are left to guess whether the crystals were produced in the body and stand for a material resisting cultural, economic, social, ecological, and aesthetical habits, or whether the body was produced by the crystals, now hosting them in order to resist the jaded times we live in.

Austrian artist Lois Weinberger’s Invasion (2005/2011) also plays with the limits of the organic and inorganic. The installation consists of a group of mushrooms that climb, protrude, and seem to grow from the Austrian Cultural Forum’s gallery walls. The work is a striking confluence of nature and artificiality, though the limits between the natural and unnatural are not as clear as they may first appear: the walls themselves were once organic growths in a forest and the artificial lighting is itself produced by natural sources of energy.

Equally engaged in uncovering the often-arbitrary limits between ecology and the economic functioning of the urban landscape, Mierle Laderman Ukeles has been committed to interrogating the social role of art within these processes. Her Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969! (1969) states that art should be concerned with maintaining life, its systems and environments. In her yearlong performance documented in Touch Sanitation Performance (1977-80), Ukeles shook hands with 8,500 sanitation employees, while sharing and documenting their stories, and thereby drawing attention to the ecological underbelly of New York City and its often socially stigmatized workers.

In Experience Climate Change As… (2009), the Danish collective Superflex advertises a series of hypnosis sessions offered in conjunction with international global climate change summits. The first one took place in 2009 at the UN Global Climate Summit in Copenhagen, and future events are planned through the year 2050. These hypnosis sessions allow participants to experience climate change as a specific animal, in a relatively playful gesture that nevertheless points to the serious relationship between the natural limits of global ecosystems and the seemingly limitless capacity of world powers to defer action due to realpolitik and economic reasons.

The rapacious capacity to excavate natural sites is documented by Mathias Kessler in his piece,Jarrells Cemetery, N37o53.96’ W81o34.71’. Eunice Mountain. West Virginia. (2012). The artist traveled to a commercial surface mining site in West Virginia to document the operation and the local stories mourning the lost landscape, the political situation, and the area’s history. Verbal accounts are audible to visitors outside the gallery, before they are confronted inside by a massive wallpaper depicting the carved out hillsides which appear overwhelmingly dry and diseased. In serious irony, the only remnant and survivor in an otherwise lifeless scene is a cemetery, now even more cut-off from the living.

Finally, [UN]NATURAL LIMITS includes a documentation of Periferry – An incomplete Balance Sheet (2013), a nomadic space for hybrid art practices mounted and maintained by Desire Machine Collective. Located on a ferry barge on the Brahmaputra River in India, this project provides a space for experimentation and new media approaches, public and community arts, which are relevant to immediate local concerns and aim at the empowerment of the community and reclaiming the public space, while at the same time connecting with the global.

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Reposted from eflux newsletter

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Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
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– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

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Invitation to local artists | Tatton Park Biennial 2010

Tatton Park Biennial | Invitation to local artists
Artists from Cheshire and the North West are invited to take part in Open Competitions as part of Tatton Park Biennial 2010

Next year sees the return of this remarkable contemporary arts event in Tatton’s gardens. The inaugural Biennial, which took place in the summer of 2008, saw nearly 30 artists, performers and writers develop new works for Tatton Park, to considerable critical and public acclaim.  Tatton Park Biennial 2010 will take a site-specific theme of “Framing Identity” that explores our association with place.

For 2010, artists will be commissioned in three ways: by curator’s appointment, peer recommendation from leading organisations and via two Open Competitions, engaging artists from Cheshire and the North West. 

One competition is open to artists who have recently completed formal training and are either currently living or working in Cheshire or are originally from the county. The second is open to all artists living or working in the North West. Artists are invited to apply by developing their own site-specific proposals, based on the 2010 theme and can apply as individuals or as collaborative groups.   

Selected artists will be awarded a budget of £5,500 to cover fees, materials and expenses.  Most importantly, however, they will be able to participate in the prestigious 2010 Biennial, sharing a high-profile platform with other emerging as well as established national and international artists.

The submissions for the open competitions will be judged by Biennial curators, Danielle Arnaud and Jordan Kaplan from Parabola, Brendan Flanagan, Tatton Park and Visitor Economy Manager and Helen Battersby, Arts, Heritage and Museums Manager, Cheshire East.

Curators, Danielle Arnaud and Jordan Kaplan commented “We are so pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to artists! It is not the easiest option, but it is crucial to our ambition for increasing the scope and reach of the Biennial. Soliciting proposals from artists who are not currently known to us is just one of the ways the Biennial is working as a creative laboratory – positioning itself as a unique event and a new model for participation with contemporary art of the highest calibre”.

Brendan Flanagan, Tatton Park and Visitor Economy Manager said “’Framing Identity’ will explore our relationship with place, whether that be the Egerton family who owned Tatton Park, today’s visitors, or our own identity with place as an individual, community or business. Through the Tatton Park Biennial, Cheshire East Council can extend a unique opportunity to artists from the region.”

Proposals should be submitted via the Spaces Cheshire website

The deadline for submission of applications is midnight Wednesday 30 September 2009. Interviews will be held on Thursday 15 October 2009.

Framing Identity

8 May to 26 September 2010

From 8 May to 26 September 2010, Tatton Park will stage its second Biennial of contemporary art, with up to 20 commissioned works responding to the site and notions of identity that emerge from it. Landscape as a social platform; social divides reflected in landscape; a sense of place in relation to the macro- and immediate vicinity of the Park; the relevance of the boundary wall that encircles its 1,000-acres; people who work at the site and know it intimately and those who live in the very different estates that ring Tatton and are not included among its current visitors are all subjects of enquiry. The opportunity to re-examine the site as a living and evolving subject rather than as an historical keepsake is at the heart of 2010. 

Partners from across the arts and cultural sectors in the Northwest and the UK are working with the Biennial to deliver a programme that will extend the reach of the event to national and international audiences. There will be several commissioning opportunities involving multiple sites and organisations like museums, universities and community groups. 

There are three commissioning schemes: curators’ invitation; peer recommendation and open competition, which will work to develop the artistic scope of the Biennial as it locates itself as a dynamic laboratory for experimentation and exchange. Artists working internationally will be commissioned alongside some of the most innovative emerging artists in Britain, with work taking on a variety of media, from large-scale installation to film, video, book & web-works and performance, with new collaborations throughout.

Tatton Park is managed and financed by Cheshire East Council on behalf of the National Trust.

This impressive historic estate receives in the region of 750,000 visitors every year all of whom come to enjoy its Georgian Mansion, Tudor Old Hall, award winning Gardens and 1930s rare breeds farm.  The 1,000 acre deer park is home to Red and Fallow deer and the estate also boasts speciality shops, adventure playground, restaurant and year-round events programme.

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