SUSPENSION at Kunstraum am Schauplatz – Wiener Art Foundation / Vienna

SUSPENSION / Curated by Stephan Klee


31.10. – 21.11. 2019 

Mit Borrás, Frank Eickhoff, Jörg Gelbke, Spiros Hadjidjanos, Kathrin Köster, Leon Manoloudakis, Lauren Moffatt, Philipp Röcker, Marie Strauss

Kunstraum am Schauplatz – Wiener Art Foundation

Praterstraße 42, 1020 Wien, Austria

In the Atacama the neon toned basins of lithium
extraction steam off groundwater into the desert sky and in Congo people of all
ages dig through reddish brown tunnels to get to cobalt, nickel and platinum as
well as graphite and other rare earths. The Anthropocene makes the climate and
sends its visions ahead. The worldwide economy is striving for a crystalline
future, consisting of batteries, glass, solar panels, screens and Oculus Rift –
please don’t forget sunglasses plus golden rescue blankets! Fossil fuels are
joined by minerals, so the complete simulation becomes functional and stable, a
virtual inner world for the users is guaranteed. The energy needed for this
transition will consume or destroy nearly all fossil and organic reserves of
the earth, so that also the global outside world will be very hot and

“Executing, materializing, realizing,
producing: it seems as if this is the ideal determination of every thing,
according to a movement from the state of the possible to that of the real,
determined at the same time by progress and an inner necessity.
to pass over.”[1]

Or this highly engineered transition based on
economic growth collapses halfway. With a foreseeable combination of problems
such as climate catastrophe, resource scarcity, soil erosion, global crop
failures, recession, migration, underclass uprisings, wars in and between
disintegrating states, and one or the other remaining nuclear bomb, this is a
likely scenario. Then, in the middle of the download, the plug is pulled to the
crystalline future and then post-apocalyptic times are on the horizon. The
worldwide network will no longer be usable like the aqueducts after the fall of
the Western Roman Empire; not to mention virtual authenticity as the
determining attitude towards life. After the global high culture of late
capitalism, the survivors find themselves in a potent chaos, in which
possibilities of living together, laws and rhythms must be new defined.

A peaceful transition to a global-regional,
ecological-collective economy that stops climate change by renunciation and
ensures the harmony of mankind with the natural environment can be ruled out as
absolutely unlikely. There must be miracles again; nothing less than that. Many
people may not be aware of this situation for the next 35 years, or may see it
differently when they look at their children. But they may feel a tremor in the
air, hear a crisis from the tectonics, notice cracks in the room. There is a
word for this in theatre, film, literature: Suspense.
It describes the perceptible tension in the familiar, the loud silence, the
oppressive dullness in which the radical new announces itself. Some people may
even sense that they already exist in the midst of an epochal drift.[2]

“When people die, they go down in history. When statues die, they become
art. This botany of death we call culture”[3]

The exhibition »Suspension« gives itself up to
the geopolitical tension. Its setting celebrates this present state of
suspension, this current, dynamic shift in the underground. Just as indigenous
peoples, who venerated being thrown into the world with cult statues alive for
them – endless millennia before these statues found their ritual death in the
museum collections of the colonial powers – so the participants here retreat
into the familiar, western-modern ritual of the White Cube, in order to
collectively raise a vision in the potentially approaching crystalline age –
in this ritual of the White Cube as well. In doing so, they achieve what is
possible for them as human beings working with their own hands and create an
environment, a scenario of diverse materials and media. This is fragmented and
yet in the same space. The scenario holds the uncertainty between two artistic
currents and qualities: 
1. the authentic handmade of timeless mineral
artefacts and
2. a post-generative approach to the images
and memories of a once familiar organic environment, i.e. floral nature, as an
attempt at artistic animation, be it in the analogue, digital or virtual
In this open setting between ancient mineral
and future animated mineral, the organic is almost shortened away, it appears
at most as a synthetic memory. In this sense, the exhibition refers to the
current chemical state of suspension in the basins of lithium production and
the rapid transformation of global capitalism that is now taking place,
reflecting everything as a possible scenario from an almost inorganic future.
The viewers bring the instance of their
sharpened senses, their bodies from generative cells into the exhibition space
and thus life into the construct.
The whole thing is an inventory and not a
function, it is an awareness and a pendulum, but not a solution, like so much
else. Actually, everything is clear, we should act immediately. We are still
trying to do this as creators of culture.


Kunstraum am Schauplatz, Wiener Art Foundation
Embassy of Germany, Wien

[1] Jean Baudrillard “The
Intelligence of Evil”, p. 16, lines 4-9 (second definition of
“Integral Reality”), Passagen Verlag Wien, 1st edition 2007
[2] Without clear instructions from whomever, almost
everyone continues as usual. And artists make art. Some rely in their works on
the total liquidity in idea, distribution and realization within the digital,
neoliberal market, the programmed illusion and simulation. The whole thing
under the premise that soon it will no longer be the authentic, that defines
existence, but the effective, however artificial it may be. The representatives
of the post-Internet movement certainly often give good examples of this
Others rely in their
works precisely on the resistance of the absolutely authentic, on the unique in
atomic materiality, on the physical inscription of historical processes, and on
the autonomy of a form that can absolutely not be assigned any purpose or
image, and which thus eludes an interpretive subjection. In particular, this
includes a whole generation of new positions in abstract painting and
sculpture. And yet others put their energy into coming to terms with social
imbalances, the collective traumas of historical crimes or questions of
determining identity. For lack of alternatives, many seek relevance in the
value system of an era that is visibly in the process of dissolution.
[3] Chris Parker and Alain Resnais Les
Statues meurent aussi (Also statues die), F, 30:03 min. BW, 1953)