Grazer Kunstverein

Summer at Grazer Kunstverein

23 Jun - 31 Jul 2017

Ruth E Lyons, Press Image #5, Kilroot Salt mine
Co. Antrim, 2017
23 June – 31 July, 1–6 September 2017
New Commission: Ruth E Lyons

On Display: Fiston Mwanza Mujila; Edward Clydesdale Thomson; Céline Condorelli; Chris Evans with Morten Norbye Halvorsen; Fiona Hallinan; Isabella Kohlhuber; Isabel Nolan; Adam Zagajewski

On Reflection: Ernst Fischer

Inspired by Ernst Fischer’s 1959 publication titled ‘The Necessity of Art – A Marxist Approach’ the summer season of new commissions and artistic research at the Grazer Kunstverein is guided by Fischer’s claim that art is not only necessary in order to recognise and change the world, but that art is also necessary by virtue of the magic inherent within it. For Fischer this magic is located precisely in our ability to visualise potential, and to use this power to shape and control our natural world.

Throughout summer, the Grazer Kunstverein is dedicated to exploring ideas around the transformative potential of art as inspired by our relationship to nature, by presenting three very different projects that engage with the natural world in ways that are physical, performative, poetic and metaphorical.

Ruth E Lyons is developing WWWW – Women’s Wear for Worldly Work. The project is an artwork in the form of a business model, created to imagine a new line of alternative work-wear
designed specifically for the female body working across industrial landscapes. Fiston Mwanza Mujila performs extracts from his powerful book of poetry ‘Le Fleuve dans le Ventre / Der Fluß im Bauch’ [The River in the Belly], which takes on themes of solitude and exile, shaped and inspired by the coursing waters of the Congo River. Edward Clydesdale Thomson introduces an abstract sculptural garden that tends to ideas around care and commitment, and which will eventually grow into a real garden here at the Grazer Kunstverein.

Ruth E Lyons

WWWW stands for Women’s Wear for Worldly Work, and celebrates the spectacular potential of gender parity. The project stems from the artists’ personal experience of working as a female cultural producer in various male-dominated industrial environments ranging from salt mines, construction sites to fabrication workshops and being continually frustrated by the lack of purpose designed work-wear for women working in such scenarios. WWWW is an urgent visual and performance-based response to the marginalization of women that this lack represents as we face rapid and widespread industrialization of world landscapes.

Ultimately WWWW sets out to become an innovative and functioning business
that will provide practical work-wear for women and open up an online platform for the profiling of female role models working in typically male-dominated professions. It is the expansive and transformational development and research space of this business idea that the core of WWWW as an artwork inhabits.

In the evolution of WWWW the research, focus groups, business pitch, and development of test pieces at the Grazer Kunstverein, each become sites for performative gestures that highlight the often unconscious bias built into commonplace situations and environments. In this way WWWW explores how the structure of our clothing and the shape of our landscape are part of vast historical systems that inhibit the feminine. Simultaneously these performative strategies offer an imaginary and spectacular vision of the potential of embraced gender parity through the creation of forms that give space for the female to embody a fully expressive, capable, physical role in the activity of world making.

Fiston Mwanza Mujila

The Congo River is a great heaving mass of water, an unstoppable force of nature that arcs through the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The deepest river in the world, it was gifted to a young Fiston Mwanza Mujila by his father when he was a child. Since then it has been a major source of inspiration for his text-based practice, so much so that he dedicated an entire collection of poetry to it. Mwanza Mujila writes poetry, fiction, and works for the stage. ‘Le Fleuve dans le Ventre / Der Fluß im Bauch’ [The River in the Belly] uses text to embody the Congo river, becoming that great ambiguous wave of ferocious laziness, that brings with it life but also carries away the dead. Mwanza Mujila is impregnated with the river, an act not of love but of violence, as he uses his muse to reflect on the turbulent and chaotic years of civil war and dictatorship that have marked the DRC since independence in 1960. In a musical rhythm, Mwanza Mujila’s text has the power to hypnotise, with penetrating repetition, an enormity of depth, and clarity of breadth, claiming back through language that which has been swept away.

The work, originally written in French, will be presented in the form of a performace that echoes the gallery, and available to read (in French and German) in a publication printed by Edition Thanhäuser.

Edward Clydesdale Thomson

Edward Clydesdale Thomson is plotting out a garden for the Grazer Kunstverein – it will become a real, living environment that will gradually grow, flourish and decay throughout the coming years. The first iteration of this long-term project will be presented for the summer season of 2017. Tools and ropes, fans and hoses lay the groundwork in a sculptural garden planted around the concrete galleries.

This installation combines works including The Distracted Gardener & The Plumbing Subverter (2013) and Inflatable Paradise (2016) where Edward Clydesdale Thomsons’ abstracted tools bridge a transition between house and garden, from the realm of the domestic and personal, to the symbolic and collective. With this he investigates the notion of landscaping as an activity that has resonance with art making
in being able to sculpt and delimit a space of both production, experience and care. For Ernst Fischer, the control of the human hand over the land was one of
the most powerful, magical and distinguishing features of the human condition. Echoing this sentiment, here the artist also troubles and complicates our desire to control the living world, by thinking closely about our role as artists within it.

Alongside works by Lyons, Mwanza Mujila, and Clydesdale Thomson, traces from our spring season will remain in the building, adding to the chorus of voices coming together at the Grazer Kunstverein under our guiding leitmotif ‘The Necessity of Art’.

The presentation of work by Isabel Nolan, Fiona Hallinan, and Ruth E Lyons is kindly supported by Culture Ireland. The presentation of work by Edward Clydesdale Thomson is kindly supported by the Mondriaan Fund.

Tags: Chris Evans, Fiona Hall, Morten Norbye Halvorsen, Isabel Nolan