Franz Thalmair

  • 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts

    Humor is political. From stinging ridicule that reveals more about the mockers than about the targets of their taunts to childlike silliness and drollery, all forms of humor showcase our common humanity. Yet shared laughter is also contradictory: It can divide as well as unite. This contradiction is a key point of departure in the work of the international art collective Slavs and Tatars, and it guided their curation of the Thirty-Third Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, “Crack Up-Crack Down.”

    The art on view at the biennial’s nine venues offered plenty of evidence that the best satire—whether

  • picks August 20, 2019

    Heinrich Dunst

    In addition to maintaining his practice of making conceptual sculptures, performances, and object-based works, for this exhibition, Austrian artist Heinrich Dunst has taken up Peter Kubelka’s abstract film Arnulf Rainer (1960)—six minutes and twenty-four seconds of rhythmically processed light and sound—in a continuation of the filmmaker’s investigations into notions of materiality.

    The elements in Film, 2019, the first room’s extensive installation including digital prints on aluminum and sheets of pressboard mounted on the ground, are connected to one another by enlarged stills from Arnulf

  • picks May 14, 2019

    Fernanda Gomes

    Brazilian artist Fernanda Gomes’s intervention here is minimal; those not paying close attention may well overlook the fact that there’s an exhibition happening at all. Her untitled site-specific spatial immersions invoke the genius loci in which knowledge, history, and memory blend with intuitive perception and interpretation. As a prelude, Gomes has constructed a grid-like platform from commercial-quality wood and overlaid it with white-painted panels. Various small objects, including a bottle wrapped in packing paper, a pencil dangling on a string, wooden cubes and balls, crumpled paper, and

  • picks April 24, 2019

    Katharina Gruzei

    In this exhibition, Katharina Gruzei is showing “Bodies of Work,” 2017, a series of photographs taken in Austria’s last shipyard on the Danube, located in the industrial city of Linz. In the city that is also home to the Voest steel company (founded by the Nazis and formerly known as Reichswerke Herman Göring), the artist has captured metalworkers, welders, and ship-builders in the rough environment of a working port. In one image, a worker’s body seems to fuse with the artificial textiles and tubes of his protective gear, the instrument and product of labor becoming one. Such moments set the

  • picks February 08, 2019

    Ashley Hans Scheirl

    A relentless violet, neither hot nor cold, assaults the viewer from all directions—the gallery’s floor, pedestals, and movable walls—in a shade that seems manufactured to underscore the wavering absurdity of Ashley Hans Scheirl’s pictorial cosmos. The artist—who has also variously gone by the names of Angela, Angela Scheirl, Angela Hans, Angel Hans, Zeze Hans, Ah, A A A A, Hans Scheirl, Hans, Hansi, Hansda, Hans von S/hit, Scheirl, and Ashley Hans Scheirl—first became known for her earlier experimental video work from the 1980s and ’90s. She turned to painting in 1995, and since then has combined

  • picks December 03, 2018

    Anna-Sophie Berger

    A couple steps connect the halves of this exhibition hall; it is here, in this zone of architectural transition, that Anna-Sophie Berger has chosen to position the cluster of modular objects that make up the nucleus of “Don’t smoke” (all works 2018). Each piece is named after a country in the EU, and, wrapped in color-block polar fleece, looks vaguely functional, like human-size Legos. Mounted on rollers and interlinked by hooks and eyes, together they create a large-format piece evoking a landscape of scratching posts for cats. Deutschland (Germany) takes the form of a black-red-gold staircase,

  • Michael Kienzer

    Poised between lightness and presence, between impromptu conception and deliberate creative choice, between the construction of sculpture in the moment and its perpetual disintegration, Michael Kienzer’s practice typically performs a balancing act. In his exhibition “grau und farbig” (gray and colorful), the Vienna-based artist gave another bravura demonstration of his mastery of sculptural precision.

    Entering the gallery, the visitor was welcomed by a fourteen-foot-tall wall object bearing the programmatic title Weiß auf Weiß (Zeichnung Vol 6) (White on White [Drawing Vol. 6]) (all works cited,

  • picks October 15, 2018

    Sheila Hicks and Judit Reigl

    Sheila Hicks and Judit Reigl both believe that change is the only constant that shapes our world. Accordingly, their exhibition here is characterized by a pulsation that can also be described as life—and which, in turn, is marked by change. Hicks and Reigl live in Paris and have been active as artists for more than half a century (Hicks was born in Nebraska in 1934, Reigl in Hungary in 1923), and they are now brought together by curator Julia Garimorth for “Panta Rhei,” a show that correlates form, material, and wisdom.  

    The image of a changeable river suggests itself especially in Reigl’s series

  • John Cornu and Peter Downsbrough

    If many alternative art venues are tucked away in backyards or basements, attic, as the name suggests, sits at the other end of the spectrum—it occupies the top floor of a building that used to be home to a publishing company. The floor has recently been taken over by several galleries and transformed into one of the Belgian capital’s contemporary art hubs. After entering the imposing edifice and climbing the stairs, the visitor found herself not in a refined white cube but in a kind of garret room, where it quickly became clear that this dual presentation of works by John Cornu and Peter

  • picks August 28, 2018

    Anna Artaker and Tatiana Lecomte

    This museum’s well-known collection of anatomical wax models from the Medical University of Vienna is brought into the present in this exhibition. Anna Artaker explores the legibility of the human face by exhibiting death masks from the Josephinum’s holdings as readymades. Without labels or commentary, faces from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries mingle in this untitled installation, demonstrating the impossibility of visually differentiating Aryan and Jewish peoples, despite ideas propagated by racist Nazi pseudoscience. Meanwhile, Artaker’s frottage Freud’s Tomb in London, 2018,

  • picks May 07, 2018

    Haim Steinbach

    Mojave, vitamin kick, tree frog 1, garden gnome, sunflower. For eswürdesoaussehen (itwouldlooklikethis), 2018—which consists of fictive names and thirteen color swatches painted on the wall—Haim Steinbach portrays not only the hues of everyday objects but also the ideas and representations connected to them.

    This exhibition hosts plenty of actual objects, too—they’re motley and freighted with cultural significance, and Steinbach has been amassing them for a good three decades. That they exist not to sate the artist’s pack-rat passions but rather to serve the analysis of their own implications in

  • picks April 12, 2018

    Sophie Thun

    As one approaches the gallery, it is not immediately clear that the life-size analog color photograph Rain on pane (all works cited, 2018) is not actually Sophie Thun. She stands, so it appears, behind the closed door, holding a remote shutter release while perhaps taking stock of passersby in the historic city center. Her surroundings duplicate what is behind the photographic paper: the gallery space. The construction and representation of the female self is as much a theme in Thun’s work as the illusionistic methods of mimesis in mise en abyme and trompe l'oeil, or the technological preconditions

  • picks December 04, 2017

    “Quote / Unquote. Between Appropriation and Dialogue”

    In these times of discussing renewable energy, where better to house an exhibition on citation as artistic strategy—the recycling and recuperation of content, in other words—than a former power plant? As part of Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology, the Tejo Power Station ranks among modernity’s most striking monuments, and if it has long been an ideal site to consider the appropriation and reclamation of images, texts, and ideas, such investigations have taken on even more urgency as of late.

    Noé Sendas looks at echoes in art-historical contexts when he brings self-portraits

  • picks October 12, 2017

    Toni Schmale

    At the end of a corridor, the work dipstation (all works 2017) provides the prelude to an exhibition in which today’s rituals around self-improvement take center stage. A slab of dark-gray concrete, mounted to the wall and sized to human scale, is juxtaposed with a black metal bar. No chin-ups are possible here, fat burning isn’t allowed, muscles can’t be trained—the equipment has been reduced to pure form.

    The main section of the installation by Toni Schmale is further equipped with supposed tools of optimization: first there is ach ach ach, featuring stanchions on the left and right of each of

  • picks June 29, 2017

    Martin Beck

    What makes an exhibition? How do the individual elements come together, and how does new meaning unfold as a result? What praxis must a curator follow in order to deploy the “gestures of showing,” as described by Mieke Bal, so that they can be experienced and construed by the public? Martin Beck’s art moves within this constellation of questions and complicates them. His latest show of sculptures, videos, drawings, artists’ books, and installations also includes works he selected by Eadweard Muybridge and Julie Ault, which appear as references to Beck’s own output. Beck has additionally curated

  • picks May 18, 2017

    Sonia Leimer

    When visitors step onto the white performance floor that Sonia Leimer has installed in “Autoterritorium”—a piece that extends via slender pathways right up to the walls, adding a second floor to the exhibition space—not only is their own tread softened (the material gives way under the pressure of bodies), but they also inevitably become a component of the show. Indeed, they complete the exhibition. One could characterize the other objects on view also as performative sculptures. Eroberung des Nutzlosen (Conquest of the Useless), 2016, is made up of movable stainless-steel parts based on objects

  • picks April 03, 2017

    Tatsuo Miyajima

    A permanent becoming—as opposed to an ultimate being—is a central theme in Tatsuo Miyajima’s latest exhibition, as high-flying as the topic may be. Throughout, Miyajima’s work elegantly conjures the river of time as the only constant. “LIFE (complex system)” presents three pieces sharing the same title in the main gallery: Life (complex system) no. 1, no. 7, and no. 10, all 2017. Together, they offer digital LED counters on circuit boards that are held in sterile steel casings and ordered into grids. Connected via a microcomputer and vein-like cables, these units react to one another; they are

  • picks March 24, 2017

    Agatha Gothe-Snape

    On the fifty-third floor of Mori Tower—the tallest building in the Roppongi district—to be unable to look out over Tokyo is agonizing. Agatha Gothe-Snape must have felt similarly when she conceived her exhibition for the almost windowless space of the Mori Art Museum. She explores the notion of the window as a metaphor for that which both joins and separates, an element which contributes to the site-specificity of her installation. The spectrum of works on view, which grew from her research in Tokyo, includes videos, digital prints, and sound recordings, as well as sculptures and other spatial

  • picks March 03, 2017

    Juergen Teller

    What do Charlotte Rampling and William Eggleston have in common? Both can be found in this show of Juergen Teller’s large-format prints. Teller is also seen posing naked on the back of a donkey. In another image, Eggleston, with a cigarette in one hand and a camera around his neck, stands before a pink gorilla, whose gaze he attempts to reciprocate. In a third work, Rampling holds a fox in her hands while sitting barefoot in front of a wall of fair-faced concrete; a pair of shoes lie on a large ashtray beside her. These photographs seem simultaneously casual and staged—and this is classic Teller,

  • picks February 20, 2017

    Andreas Fogarasi

    Just how many exhibitions there are in this show, with the promising title “Exhibition/s,” is open to debate. On the other hand, that Andreas Fogarasi always addresses the functionality and logic of exhibiting in his own artistic practice, or makes them the main object of investigation, is clearly staked out. Focusing on works from the past five years, the show considers the intersection of architecture, design, and visual arts. Questions as to how cities and the events generated in and by them are transformed into images, which then inscribe themselves in the collective memory, run like a red