“It is not only a display, it is part of the reality.”
Interview with Heide Wihrheim on the tranzit.org activities in autumn.
tranzit is a network of five independent, non-profit organisations in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and the Slovak Republic. Since 2002, tranzit has been developing artistic and cultural activities with a critical approach, fostering a permanent dialectic between local and global culture. Heide Wihrheim is project manager and coordinates the activities of tranzit.org at ERSTE Foundation. We asked her why, after its 10th year of existence, tranzit seems to be more active than ever and what makes it so special.
The first tranzit initiatives were founded in 2002 in Prague and Bratislava. 11 years of hard work in contemporary art – it was a very dynamic history so far, wasn’t it?
Heide Wihrheim: Yes, indeed. Today, the network has been grown up to five organisations. tranzit Austria and tranzit Hungary are active since 2004 and last year Romania joined the network and spaces opened there in the three cities Bucharest, Cluj and Iasi. Romania is the biggest country where tranzit has a homebase.
There is a lot going on this year…
HW: To be honest, it can be quite challenging to keep the overview… Raluca Voinea and tranzit.ro are the curators and producers of the fantastic Romanian pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennial. Next door, at the Czech pavilion, Zbyněk Baladrán, Vit Havranek’s co-curator at the tranzitdisplay gallery in Prague, shows his own work. Last month, tranzit.sk in Bratislava got a new director, Judit Angel, and since April this year we altogether celebrate 10 years of tranzit.org with an exciting series of films and live events in Vienna at the mumok kino. Not to mention the regular exhibitions and events organised by all tranzits.
Judit Angel is the newest kid on the block. She starts in October with her own programme. What is the first opening of tranzit.sk’s new director?
HW: Judit invited Josef Dabernig for the first exhibition, which was a very nice surprise because we know him from various other occasions. He was jury member of the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory 2009 and also the Kontakt. Art Collection owns a series of his works. The exhibition in Bratislava is called Textual Photography and comprises a new selection from Dabernig’s ongoing Panorama photo-series. The film Lancia Thema of 2005 will be also shown. It aims to highlight trademark aspects of the artist’s oeuvre and proposes new readings of the relationship between photography, film and space.
Any reason that an Austrian artist is at the beginning of Judit Angel’s exhibition programme?
HW: That was of course Judit’s decision, but I am pretty sure, that Dabernig being an Austrian was not of relevance for her choice. She points more to the fact that her first project is meant “to model a concentrated, yet multilayered merging of concept, methodology, structure, medium and contextual approach”. I think she wants the first show to be a statement which explains her general approach to art and curating.
But I can imagine that the interest for the show in the neighboring city of Vienna is quite high.
HW: Yes, we think and hope so. Bratislava is not even an hour away, but still it seems as if people don’t have it on their regular agenda. This is why ERSTE Foundation organises a free bus shuttle for the opening on 25 October in Bratislava. (see information below)
Josef Dabernig: Stadium panorama 4 in Małopolska (in 6 parts), 2011_Details_01-03. Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Andreas Huber, Vienna and Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam © VBK Vienna, 2013
Maybe, during the trip, the bus crowd will still talk about another tranzit event?
HW: You mean the live event at mumok kino two days before? True. This is part of Changer d’image, a whole series of performative events since April this year: This film programme is made by ten international filmmakers, artists or artist groups who have been invited to reflect on the process of filmmaking in the form of a live event.
Artists have been invited to make a film?
HW: No, it’s a live event on filmmaking. The outcome of this process is often a talk based on film images, a talk presenting some actual shooting, a performance with the actors, or a lecture by an invited specialist. The intention of the tranzit curators was also to challenge the artists to reflect on the format of the commission, whether and how making a work by invitation influences the working process itself.
And why is it called after the short film by Jean-Luc Godard?
HW: Godard was commissioned to make a film on the political change in French politics when, in 1981, Francois Mitterrand won the presidential elections. His film is a personally performed textual reflection in front of an empty screen. Later it is animated with a chain of images that ”resist change“. Changer d’image is a personal statement of the capacity or incapacity of changing images to reflect the factual political change he was fighting for.
That means the political context is very important for the tranzit curators and the invited artists?
HW: Definitely, but in a wider sense. The Changer d’image events in October will display artistic positions which are very much interested in social relationships and community issues. On 16 October, Wendelien van Oldenborgh will present a film project that is based on an architectural and social experiment in Eindhoven from 1972, on concepts such as participation and self-determination. Models of coexisting social relationships are the topic of Pavlína Fichta Čierna’s work.
Changer d’image: © Fikret Atay, from: Saints of the City, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Chantal Crousel Gallery.
The invited artists see themselves as filmmakers or filming artists?
HW: They come from very different fields and this is the exciting thing about it. The Beirut based curator and writer Rasha Salti and the musician Osama Shalabi from Cairo for example work together under the name of WE SHOULD HAVE NEVER LEFT (UGANDA) COLLECTIVE. On 23 October, their live performance of a film-in-progress, a multi-layered fictional documentary film, will include video footage, live music and voice over text.
Sounds like a lot of action but not so much interaction with the audience. Are also workshops planned?
HW: Well, kind of. Actually, also on 23 October, Ivan Moudov will invite the public to participate in an air drawing contest: members of the public will volunteer to draw or paint with an imaginary pencil or brush on an imaginary canvas. All air drawings and paintings will be judged by a professional jury. The winner of the contest will be awarded a cash prize of EUR 1,000.
Let’s assume that this is meant as criticism towards the awarding and funding business. Is maybe even ERSTE Foundation one of the targets of this satire?
HW: Possible. And why not? As project managers and curators at ERSTE Foundation we have always in mind, that supporting, funding, awarding etc. is a very delicate issue. The Croatian artist Sanja Iveković had good reasons to design the award trophy that is given biannually by our colleagues of the Social Development Programme to NGOs in the field of social integration in the shape of a sea urchin: thorny, sharp, heavy and a bit dangerous. Her message with this sculpture was that giving is as sensitive as taking.
Nevertheless you do it.
HW: Sure, because artists need this support. At the moment, another tranzit activity is running: the new call for the artist-in-residence programme for 2014 of tranzit and ERSTE Foundation at MuseumsQuartier in Vienna is now open.
Who can apply?
HW: The residencies are designed for artists, curators and theoreticians working in the field of contemporary art, coming from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and the Slovak Republic. They have the opportunity to live and work in a guest studio in Vienna for the period of one or two months.
It is just the studio in Vienna?
HW: No, each residence offers also a monthly stipend of EUR 1,050, additionally to the studio space to live and work in the MuseumsQuartier. The deadline for submission is 31 October 2013, but applicants should check all information here.
When tranzit started in 2002, it was meant to add some sort of infrastructure for contemporary art in post-socialist countries where public money was short and private money not invested into visual art like in the West. Did that change within the last 11 years and how important is tranzit today?
HW: Well, public money for cultural projects is still (or again) short. But it is important that artists have a space where they can experiment without commercial pressures. Many young and also experienced artists, curators, critics etc. still leave their Eastern European countries for better working conditions abroad. Through tranzit they can reach their local public and colleagues. It is relevant for an artist who, for example, deals with the social and political contexts in Hungary or Czech Republic to be part of the discourses in these countries as well and not only to have a show in a gallery in Berlin, London or Vienna. tranzit is not only a display, it is also part of the reality.
tranzit.sk exhibition in Bratislava:
Josef Dabernig: Textual Photography – at tranzit.sk
Curated by Judit Angel
The exhibition comprising a new selection from Josef Dabernig’s ongoing Panorama photo-series and the film Lancia Thema (2005) aims to highlight trademark aspects of the artist’s oeuvre and propose new readings of the relationship between photography, film and space.
Opening: Friday, 25 October 2013, 7 pm
Shuttle service from Quo Vadis, Hurbanovo námestie at 6.30 pm; Back: 9.30 pm
Shuttle service from Vienna, Lothringerstraße 26, 1030 Vienna, side entrance of Hotel Intercontinental / Eislaufverein (U4 Stadtpark) at 5:30 pm, Back: 9:15 pm (arrival 10:30 pm)
Registration for the Vienna shuttle required until 21 October 2013 at: email@example.com
Please register with your first and last name and if possible give us your telephone number to call you back in case of any changes. Please don’t forget to bring your passport or ID-Card for the bus trip.
Duration of the exhibition: 25 October – 1 December 2013
Opening hours: Friday – Sunday, 2.00 – 6.00 pm
Location: tranzit dielne/workshops, Studená 12, Bratislava
Josef Dabernig: lecture and workshop with students
Date: 7 November 2013, 11 am
Location: Studio IN (Department of Intermedia and Multimedia), Academy of Fine Arts and Design – Hviezdoslavovo námestie, 18, Bratislava
“Travelling is a cinematic affair …” – Josef Dabernig in discussion with Christian Kravagna, Daniel Grúň, and Judit Angel
Date: 7 November 2013, 5 pm
Location: Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Lecture room 135 – Hviezdoslavovo námestie, 18, Bratislava
A collaboration project with Studio IN (Department of Intermedia and Multimedia) in the frame of Open Studio program.
Curated by Vít Havránek (tranzit.cz), Dóra Hegyi (tranzit. hu), Georg Schöllhammer (tranzit.at), Raluca Voinea (tranzit.ro).
You will find the whole cinema programme here: http://www.mumok.at/programm/kino/
mumok kino, museum moderner kunst stiftung ludwig wien, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna
Tickets: € 6 / concessions € 4.50
Information and reservations: T +43 1 525 00 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening hours: Mo 2–7 pm, Tue–Sun 10 am–7 pm, Thurs 10 am–9 pm
Changer d’image is a project by tranzit and ERSTE Foundation on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the tranzit.org initiative.