Guimarães. A new artist-run space in Vienna
Guimarães is a new exhibition space that opened a few months ago in Vienna. The place is run by Hugo Canoilas, Christoph Meier, and Nicola Pecoraro. I decided to meet the guys because I wanted to know more about this new Viennese space that, judging by its first show, might become one of the most interesting locations for contemporary art in the Austrian capital. The first exhibition closed a few days ago, but new projects have been planned already.
First of all, why “Guimarães”?
Hugo had a show in Guimarães, Portugal in 2011. Christoph visited, and the sounds of Guimarães followed us to our studio in Vienna. Guimarães was the first capital of Portugal and it can be seen as a nationalistic gesture, coming from Hugo who is Portuguese; so he needed to make a 360 degree turn and learn how to deal with this. Please note that Guimarães is the name of a band we founded, and when looking for a rehearsal room for the band, we found our art space instead. So we gave it the same name, and we make exhibitions for now. The band will come later.
What did strike you first about Luisa Gardini’s work?
We all have been following her work for a few years. Nicola first noticed her in a group show in Rome, in which they were both included. Two of her sculptures were copied by Christoph for a “book of plinths” in his exhibition at the Vienna Secession in 2011. She’s the mother of a dear friend of ours and a truly inspiring artist.
You have started your activity with an exhibition of an established artist. Is this a model you’ll follow in the near future as well?
Luisa Gardini’s work came as a perfect juxtaposition to Felix the horse. With these two, we are able to raise questions about the developments of sculpture, not by looking at the past but at the here and now, because it’s happening in front us.
How was it with Felix, and why a horse in the exhibition space?
The space used to be a stable. So when we thought of the first show, one of us said, let’s take a horse in and create a situation. Since the horse could be read too much as a re-enactment of Jannis Kounellis’ work, we pushed it to the boundaries of sculpture. It also functioned as a heating system. There’s a special tension or vibration in the sculptures of Luisa Gardini that can be perceived in the trembling or shivering of a horse. Some people thought we were renting a stable with a horse to do some shows there. They were kind of right.
The history of artist-run spaces is quite rich and full of very interesting experiences. In the US, for instance, that experience has been a real success for the diffusion and the evolution of video art in the 1970s. There were places where it was possible to see work that was otherwise un-distributed. For independent video makers, the preservation of images and the recording of history have been the desires underlying the accumulation of videotapes – like Raindance and Videofreex, sorts of alternative data banks for an alternative visual history. One main reason behind the existence of artist-run spaces was the circulation of non-mainstream art: they were the real channel of distribution for alternative artists. Nowadays, with the Internet and the capillarization of art spaces, what is in your opinion the role of artist-run spaces?
We will understand better what we want from this space after a few shows. First of all, it’s a space of convergence for 3 artists that, in a mix of silliness and seriousness, develop works that I would define as complementary to each other. We bring different processes of art production together into our exhibition making, and we think about the final shape of the show by starting from the piece in front of us towards a whole, and not the other way around. Our starting point isn’t an idea, but the conversations we have while eating together.
Do you have an anticipation concerning future shows that you want to share with us?
The next exhibition in our space will be a show by Ermes – Ermes, which is an itinerant art gallery that we share our space with, so our programs alternate. We are preparing a show with an artist from the Philippines that is scheduled for May 2017.
For more information about Guimarães, visit their blog at this link.