Sensations/ Closer to the people, 5.10-3.11.20, Kunstverein Schattendorf, Austria

Artista: Karolina Jabłońska Luisa Kasalicky Tomasz Kręcicki Hermes Payrhuber, Mario Kiesenhofer. Curated by Siggi Hofer

Text: Siggi Hofer
Translation: Stefan Thyri

In the very last hour of the „Daily Show“, an elderly couple enters the exhibition and asks for an explanation. He hurries back to the car to fetch his glasses. She is already immerged. They have questions. Their nodding signalises comprehension. Followed by more questions and more signals that they comprehend. Again with nodding and eyes wide open. At the time, when all questions concerning the works are answered, a sigh is heaved by her and a glance towards her husband is meant to send a signal to me and him. She speaks for both of them when she announces, with a strong desire in her voice, sounding like a confession: “Actually, we have been expecting beautiful paintings.”
This is a haunting sentence which in turn sounds a little bit like an excuse. An apology for having spoken out loud one’s thoughts. He nods consentiently, and both of them smile. I persist and, yet, I suspire as well. Exactly in this precise second something is happening in my mind – well, one would call it a brainstorm – that was the beginning of a glorious end.
The women continues spreading tales of memories. In that room, particularly, they were revelling, drinking and dancing. Impressed, my head is pondering over and over again, and the preaparations for the current exhibition concretise with every minute and with every picture induced by her narration. A song by Tanita Tikaram is crossing my mind: “Closer to the people”.
We will bring you paintings, is what I am thinking, and a scene from “Happy End” by Hauptmann/Weill/Brecht is swirling in my head as well, where it says, “on the dancefloor the grass grew high”, and furthermore, “hey Joe, play that old song they always played”, and eventually, “some return on what you paid!”
We integrate and offer sensations to get closer to the people, and the people, so that they could be smitten with us, although, there can be no real integration. Every exhibition is an experiment, and actually, one is never done with just one. In fact, this is only the beginning which should be followed by part two, part three and many more. Until the experiment wears out, for good, and all hope is gone.
For this exhibition we scraped all the paint off the big wall in the former ballroom, as if we could expect answers to questions of the past underneath, creating a splendid carpet for Karolina Jablonska‘s bright paintings in doing so. Karolina shows great canvases which might be a view into the past. Scenes that could have happend here as well, but also similarly in the future or at the same time somewhere else. Here is embracing, fighting and applauding. There is kicking, pulling at hair, and, above all, crystal clear tears streaming over entire faces, soaking clothes. Tears are to be found where hope is still left. And that scream is ear-piercing to the marrow when it is mute. You get closer to yourself and each other, but nobody said that there would be no pain. However, nobody said that pain could not be full of relish, too.
If the elderly couple should blow in again, they will probably remember their own history, their story which has exactly happend here. They see pictures that are, in many moments, similar to their memory. Those colours! Everything, as if it only happend yesterday.
Hermes Payrhuber lives in New York, and we communicate via Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and e-mail. Whenever I remembered one of his sentences, in the end, I could not find it anymore, and I dind‘t know whether he ever really wrote it. Technically, I wanted to have a content-related discussion. But he underlinded – and that‘s one of the parts that I can‘t find anymore, like I said – that everything is always about seeing. He wants to see his succinct and at the same time dignified sculptures enthroned on refrigerators instead of solid built pedestals. Why that is, he then explained, logically consistent, with exactly the following argument, “It’s about looking at or looking up. After all, art is always also and mainly seeing.“ Now, art is becoming an exciting moment and truly a sensation, too. Because if you want to envision it like that, his sculptures including the pedestals
have been coming directly hither, flying over the vast ocean to land exactly here in this ballroom, which today is a room for art exhibitions. Inside the freezers I imagine engines. But then, after a while, it’s the sculptures which are autonomous, and it’s certainly about what you see and, of course, also about what you don’t see. And it’s about the understanding which makes the questioning redundant. Somebody called them monuments, pillars even. Hermes Payrhuber names them after various types of mushrooms.
Then there is silence for a start. While we are dragging refrigerators into the room and freeing the paintings from the bubble wrap, Lusia Kasalicky’s installation grows from the wall into the room. As if she were opening a safe, or a chest, or a door to a storage space, which are full of things. They, once retrieved and brought here, grow together, somehow, fit together or, at the same time, not at all. Magnetically attracted, torn out of harmonic ensembles, pulled out of the past by elastic bands only to let them snap back after the exhibition. They are merging and falling apart again. Pretentious pieces of jewellery, utterly beautiful for those who attach sentimental value. Origin and path cannot exactly be traced back anymore. I think about where and how Lusia finds her pieces, and whom she probably meets there. And how she uses the found and bought things, and what others would do with precisely the same objects…
Sensation as a happening, which probably has been practised for months – a preparation for an intense moment. Synergies, suddenly built, seem to chorus with a chutzpah, “The good forces gather, but where do they come from?”
The wall is scraped, and the paintings are suspended on it. The white freezers are in position, high gloss polished, and, with the utmost veneration, the sculptures made of socks are gently put on them. The black rectangle on the floor, a leftover from the last exhibition, was painted white, thus doing a little, forbidden, unauthorised extension of Hermes’ work. We assisted Luisa as well as left her alone and eventually left her completely behind, surrendering her to her own fantasies and things.
Somewhere in the room a giant hand appears. Angled from the website of Tomasz Krecicki and consquently lifted on to our stage. The hand is static, but might as well move its fingers all the time. As if it would have to perform up there, it seems, to fulfill a certain duty. The hand was, so to speak, bound, or simply does its job, here and now, always in the service of the spectators. It is a friendly one. The hand is IN the here and now, but revealing nothing. Every research concerning her provenance would probably be vain endeavour. Just as without it the projected pictures would vanish into thin air, disappear into a void. They would be there, but unnoticed and therefore they would float across the room, unread. But like that, with this ingenious interaction, the hand talks. It writes messages, things like alphabet letters and alphabet letters like things. And the sound in doing so is literally beguiling, because we havent’t heard it in a long time, and yet, because we know it so well. It carries our thoughts here and there and awakes also in this eldery couple nothing less than memories which lead exactly again to this place. Here, X years ago.
In this rhythm, our gaze continues to wander around. In fact, we would have had it all and seen it all. But there is another, undiscoverd room, that Mario Kiesenhofer transforms, with a reduced staging, into an installation. Which perhaps can be seen only today and now, and then probably won’t be existent anymore. A room consisting of a grid, which might disappear if it gets out of place and therefore has to be retained. A room in which temporarily this and that happened. So, it has already been a place where people showered and a site where pigs were slaughtered.
Mario leaves marks, he links this situation, he came across here, with similar rooms of other locations, which are rather found in bigger cities, to be honest. In the end, the connection of those particular places with their respective function puts the focus again on themselves.
Grand Opening! The new room. Even if you have to go down some steps. There are those stories that have to be told because they are not perceptible anymore. Because everything was

washable and washed away. Like, when somebody is thoroughly hosing down floors and walls with a pressure washer. No blood. No dirt. Nothing. At the most, maybe the reverberation of what the architecture has told us, and the reflections that involve us, but yet, only leave us with unanswered questions.
Despite that, we want to look around the corner. Even if, full of fear and excitement.

Critique: artmagazine