Vienna for Art’s Sake!

Contemporary Art Show

Exhibition at Winterpalais Prinz Eugen / Belvedere, Vienna 2015
outstanding artworks by 161 selected artists / architects / designers
with site-specific art interventions.
27 February – 31 May 2015

Opening speech

My dear friends,
Agnes Husslein,
Luciano Benetton,
Josef Ostermayer.

My thanks go first to Agnes Husslein for the invitation to participate in this project, this undertaking. For her openness, her far-sightedness, and her unswerving dedication.

It is a project that has made the most extreme demands not only on the artists, who were required to develop entirely new works and site-specific installations within a relatively or absolutely short span of time, but also on the participating art institutions, on the organizers, and on all of the employees of the Belvedere and of this exhibition’s team. It is impossible for me to mention all of them here by name.

But allow me to single out as representatives Harald Trapp, Tanja Lipp, and Alfred Weidinger, to whom I owe my sincerest thanks.

The basis, the starting point for the exhibition that opens today, was and is the “Archive Austria,” the creation of which I guided for Luciano Benetton as part of his project “Imago Mundi,” which has by now come to include artworks from over 50 countries.

It is a project with a decidedly visionary and utopian approach: 

to unite the art world in the format of 10 × 12 cm.

A truly unacceptable idea!

Even just this size, 10 × 12 cm—unacceptable to any artist!

And that as a donation to Luciano Benetton: an imposition!

Benetton required the artists to fill a required format. And the artists actually did so. With differing and unfailingly unique strategies, highly individual gestures, and of course, the potentials inherent in their own unmistakable (and rebellious) handwriting.

This has now laid the cornerstone for an archive, a bundle of entries, for which conceptual freedom was imposed upon everyone involved.

And naturally, an archive is itself an imposition: it levels and equates, with all its participants existing simply as an entry.

But: it is only an archive that makes it possible to “go past the moment.”

It is the secure setting of the archive, in the first place, that enables an object to stoically await every possible curatorial access at any moment.

Here and today, the archive “Vienna for Art’s Sake!”—with its 161 artists, architects, and designers—will be shown for the first time. In the Sala Terrena.

And this—in my opinion, impressive—potential is borne out in the formal rooms of this palace by the 13 artist’s statements that serve here to represent the archive as a whole.

It is of course our intention to also realize entirely different exhibition formats with others among the artists included in this archive. Aside from Luciano Benetton’s project of showing these works at venues including the Venice Biennale, I recently received a concrete invitation from Moscow.

These interventions, planned and developed specifically for this site, are intended to shed new light on contemporary art production’s significance and to lend visibility to the unbroken power of thinkers and visionaries.

Which begs the question: what can still be demanded of an art institution today?

What is it still able to achieve? 

Or has art, today, already become unacceptable to art institutions?

And thus unacceptable to our society?

In any case, art cannot simply ignore the sometimes dramatic phenomena of our times, of an era in which nearly everything is coming off the rails and bursting at the seams: art must remain unacceptable!

But perhaps this exhibition also tells of the fact that the herculean undertaking of showing these 13 interventions here, interventions situated between excess and sensuality, and between love and conviction, is possible all the same.

And of that we can be glad!

Translation: Christopher Roth