Undoing Landscape

Building on the Principle of Equality seminar held at the Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien last year, which included the students’ encounters with artists Daniel Spoerri in Vienna, Elisabeth Wild and Vivian Suter in Panajachel, Guatemala, and concluded with the exhibition Wild Spoerri Rosenstein at Hotel am Brillantengrund in 2019, the 2020–21 seminar convened by Adam Szymczyk and assisted by Petja Dimitrova considered the notion of landscape as both a physical site of action and as constructed imaginary space. Landscape is a contested field, in which political and cultural projections clash and intersect. In this intersection, various ideologies of “landscaping” and alternative ways of “picturing landscape”— can be situated and questioned: a landscape of landscapes emerges. This presentation of works by students of the seminar “Undoing Landscape” is a result of a collective process, which 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 it was nourished by reading 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 traveler who wrote the Periplus of Erythraean Sea (1st century AD), Francesco Petrarca (The Ascent of Mt. Ventoux, c. 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 a variety of media. After the seminar formally came to an end in January 2021, they created silk screen prints in response to the task defined by one technique and one format – DIN A0, the largest standard print size available – thus bringing a common denominator in 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 and staying open to the many lines of thinking that unfolded in the seminar. While focusing on the transfer of content, the process required a sort of deskilling and suspension of any previously 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, with participants isolated in domestic settings of apartments and studios. Another landscape constituted itself as collage of detached backdrops and faces arranged in a grid, united by the set time of meetings and changing as participants joined and left. Has this experience, so unique to our era, left traces on individual works?

Adam Szymczyk

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  • 03-undoing_landscape_parallel_vienna_-_editions_semperdepot
  • 04-decorative_patterns_for_hellenic_ministry_of_migration_and_asylum_offices

The shape of my decisions: migraine diary

Migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting up to 11% percent of the population (European Brain Council 2020).

In order to understand the body and what triggers its misery, the migraineur keeps a health journal.

During the days of suffering one cannot meet the standards of productivity imposed by a society in which efficiency is a virtue.

In a series of works which consciously starts with these mental landscape silk-screen prints, I intend to approach structurally my symptoms. To expand and reshape the understanding of how my life style as a migraine sufferer shapes up my decisions on my artistic practice. My working rhythm, the materials I choose to use, the processing of techniques, the visual language that I develop.

“I do not wish to represent my migrainous symptoms in a visual work, as a mere representation would always fall short to the actual experience. Rather, I aim at catching and corporealizing my conceptual findings and personal experiences in an optical diary, in order to search for an aesthetic of failure.”

Special thanks to Mariske Broeckmeyer for inspiring me with her poignant texts ‘Impulsive Incantations - Voicing Migraine‘, Journal for Artistic Research, 22 (2020).

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Undoing Landscape Booklet