The seminar held by Adam Szymczyk, along with the exhibition Undoing Landscape at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna was realized in cooperation with Kontakt Collection and ERSTE Foundation.
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 one-week 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?
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.
The participating students are Viktoria Bayer, Anna Bochkova, Emma Carlén, Kristina Cyan, Louise Deininger, Marie Yaël Fidesser, Lisa Grosskopf, Anthia Loizou, Clemens Matschnig, Taro Meissner, Kamryn Pariso, Ursula Pokorny, Rasmus Richter, Olga Shapovalova, Rini Swarnaly Mitra, and Kanako Tada.
On view at xhibit in Eschenbachgasse 11, 1010 Vienna, from 16 March to 23 March 2021.
Cover picture: In the studio working with silkscreens for “Undoing Landscape“, xhibit, 2021. Photo: Anthia Loizou