Critics’ Picks

Maria Anwander, Untitled (Why art now), 2014, neon, 12 x 43".


Maria Anwander

das weisse haus
Hegelgasse 14
February 12–April 2

With a white neon sign, Maria Anwander stages the central question of her exhibition. Untitled (Why art now), 2014, hangs over the entrance to the space and receives visitors with the titular phrase, a sentiment that at first appears innocent enough but becomes ever more dominant and pointed as the exhibition progresses. The second neon work a visitor encounters, Untitled (and what for?), 2014, finishes the question of the first and is no less critical. Between them is a whole series of works that deal with the art market, institutions, and the process of understanding aesthetic practice.

In the center of the space, one sees a pile of gypsum powder that has spilled out of its packaging onto the floor, seemingly by accident. Material for a sculpture that the artist decided better not to realize, 2015, runs its humorous title, making clear that Anwander seeks to showcase the artistic decision-making process itself and the forms to which both content and materials are tied.

Alongside The Liberation, 2014–, featuring three wall labels the artist stole from different art museums, the video Thinking to Christian Jankowski telepathically, trying to make him show my work at the next Manifesta, 2015, counts among the high points of the show. While the wall text bear such absurd statements as “The works in the following room are of a sexual nature and may offend. / Please use the torches,” in the video, the artist, sitting at a table in a state of intense concentration, can be seen attempting to enact the programmatic title of that work. Whether she has succeeded, one can’t say, at least until Manifesta reveals its list of artists.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.