Political Populism at Kunsthalle Wien

Droste Effect Magazine has been invited to follow “Political Populism,” the Kunsthalle Wien exhibition curated by Nicolaus Schafhausen. Droste Effect Magazine will produce a media coverage of the event and additional insights as interviews with curator and artists. Here the press release and the whole program of the event.


Politischer Populismus, Kunsthalle Wien


Press release:

Not only is political populism on the rise, but it is also making much stronger use of pop culture and artistic methods and aesthetics than in earlier years. Social media, advertising aesthetics and media staging have lent a progressive appearance to simple or simplistic slogans. Rapping politicians, YouTube clips aimed specifically at young people, TV formats and pop concerts that present political themes and aim to make prejudice socially acceptable – these are all part of the current media landscape. In turn, artistic works reflect or comment on this tendency or lend it a further, subversive level that uses the mechanisms of political populism against this trend. The exhibition brings together works by international artists who address various facets of populism and analyse it, diffract it in ironic manner and above all point out how omnipresent it has become.


Politischer Populismus, Kunsthalle Wien



Friday November 6, 2015

7 pm: Welcome and introduction by Nicolaus Schafhausen, curator and Director of Kunsthalle Wien

8 pm: Performance by Christian Falsnaes
For Christian Falsnaes, the audience is the raw material with which he creates his performances. He exhorts audience members to follow his directions, thus creating absurd but also challenging situations. Aside from emphasizing the contribution of every individual performer, his work also addresses societal norms, the balance of power and gender roles. The artist manipulates the collective, demanding their total obedience, as if they were part of a social experiment. By testing the limits of the audience’s willingness to comply up to their breaking point, scenarios set somewhere between an absurd situational comedy, rapt athleticism and questionable postures of authority unfold.

9 pm: Fishbowl Talkshow with Mián Mián and Nicolaus Schafhausen
“Fishbowl” is a method for conducting discussions in large groups. The name is derived from the seating arrangement employed, as it resembles a goldfish bowl, around which the participants are seated in a circle. A small part of the group discusses a topic in the middle of the circle, while the rest of the group observes the discussion from the outer circle. If someone sitting in the outer circle wishes to contribute to the discussion, they are welcome to occupy a “guest seat” in the inner circle and discuss with the others. Shanghai-based author Mián Mián, well known to audiences and state censors alike for her novels on Chinese pop and youth culture, and Nicolaus Schafhausen will moderate and determine the subject of the discussion, which will take place in English.

At the opening: Performance by Saâdane Afif
Play Opposite or Ubu Roi Disseminated (2015) translates French writer Alfred Jarry’s 1896 play Ubu Roi into an activist campaign. Excerpts from Ubu Roi, a major work of the theater of the absurd, which illustrates the ugly excesses of power and greed, will be printed on leaflets and distributed in public spaces over the course of the exhibition.

Saturday November 7, 2015

3 pm: The Innovator’s Dilemma. Lecture by Simon Denny
Simon Denny’s works reflect not only the newest trends from successful internet entrepreneur culture, but also the accompanying vision of total data transparency. His pieces are like snapshots of a digital network economy developing at break-neck speed. They take a critical look at contemporary technological progress and seem to stop time to create a space for reflection on the effects that the Internet Age is having on 21st century societies. Simon Denny will speak about his highly acclaimed contribution to this year’s Venice Biennale, his installation in the program of Political Populism and his intensive investigation of the aesthetics of the NSA. The talk will be held in English.

4 pm: Conversation with Christoph Neubacher-Kefer
Nicolaus Schafhausen will speak with Christoph Neubacher-Kefer, the educational director of the non-profit association Fluchtweg, about his work in the Georg Danzer Häuser. These residences for unaccompanied young refugees provide support in small groups to enable the young residents to learn German or finish high school. In small, family-like groups, the center’s attempt to return some sense of normalcy to the lives of the young refugees and to prepare them to lead independent and responsible lives. Kunsthalle Wien develops educational programs for these young people in close collaboration with the association.

5 pm: Lecture by Trevor Paglen
The photographer, author and activist Trevor Paglen is interested in all things that are cloaked in secrecy and whose very existence is meant to be kept hidden from the general public: CIA and NSA outposts, spy satellites, secret military bases. With the help of precision telescopes and astronomical instruments, Paglen locates that which is meant to remain invisible. His photographs and videos are the result of extensive research: Paglen’s meticulous forensic quest for access to the “black world”, that enormous and yet largely unknown segment of the US military and intelligence apparatus. Works of art and pieces of evidence at the same time, his creations are reconnaissance in the best sense. The talk will be conducted in English.

6 pm: Painting as a political medium
Based on Johanna Kandls works shown in the exhibition Helmut and Johanna Kandl will discuss the political aspects of her art. Topics covered include paintings in public space, posters, postcards, a screen magazine about the latest human rights violations and the demo button.

7 pm: Fishbowl Talkshow with Mián Mián and Nicolaus Schafhausen

Political Populism at Kunsthalle Wien Museumsquartier, Vienna
November 7, 2015 – February 7, 2016
Opening Hours: Daily from 10 am – 7 pm and Thursdays 10 am – 9 pm

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by Vincenzo Estremo
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