Building on the “Principle of Equality” seminar last year, which included the students’ encounters with artists—Daniel Spoerri in Vienna, as well as Elisabeth Wild and Vivian Suter in Panajachel, Guatemala, and concluded with the exhibition Wild Spoerri Rosenstein in 2019, the 2020–21 seminar convened by Adam Szymczyk considered the notion of landscape as both a physical and imaginary space.
Landscape is a contested field where political and cultural projections clash and intersect. It is also in this intersection that “landscaping”—inextricably related to “picturing landscape”—can be situated and questioned from several different points of view.
This one-week presentation of works by students of the seminar “Undoing Landscape” I held in 2020 and 2021 at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna is a result of a collective process. It involved several online meetings with guest speakers – the artists Rosalind Nashashibi (London), Ahlam Shibli (Berlin), Katharina Rosenberger (Zurich) and Ross Birrell (Glasgow) – as well as reading of texts of literature and viewing of films and video works. The authors who guided us through landscapes, always real and imagined at the same time, range between the anonymous Periplus of Erythraean Sea (1st century AD), Francesco Petrarca (The Ascent of Mt. Ventoux, ca. 1350), Malcolm Lowry (Under the Volcano, 1947) and Heiner Müller (Bildbeschreibung, 1988).
The students who joined the seminar and produced works and texts for the exhibition come from different walks of life and work in diversity of media. After the seminar formally came to an end in January 2021, they produced silk screen prints in response to the task defined by one technique and one format – DIN A0, the largest standard print size available, which I suggested to the students as a way of bringing a common denominator to the variety of topics raised and responses that occurred during the seminar. For many participants, their silk screen print was their first work realized in this technique, which has a history related to mass reproduction employed for political causes—asking all participants for a willful renouncement of free expression, allowing all fine differences to emerge in keeping with the many lines of thinking that opened up in the seminar. While focusing on the transfer of content, the process required a sort of deskilling and suspension of any learned métier on part of the students.
The experience of landscape is, in its nature, associated with peripatetic perception and movement. Limited by restrictions imposed on mobility by the global condition of pandemic, we were barred from common walks and site visits. Our mode of exchange was reduced to encounters on the screens of laptops, the grid of faces distributed in domestic settings of apartments and studios. Another landscape constituted itself in the collage made of detached settings, changing as participants joined and left, kept together by the set time of meetings. Has this experience, so unique to our era, left traces on individual works?
The exhibition in the windows of xhibit will be followed by a joint portfolio including works by all participants, which can be used in future iterations of the project.
Viktoria Bayer, Anna Bochkova, Emma Carlén, Kristina Cyan, Louise Deininger, Marie Yaël Fidesser, Anthia Loizou, Clemens Matsching, Taro Meissner, Kamryn Pariso, Ursula Pokorny, Rasmus Richter, Olga Shapovalova, Rini Swarnaly Mitra, and Kanako Tada.
academy of fine arts vienna