Land, Besitz und Commons
Ausstellungsprojekt im öffentlichen Raum von Semmering

Mit ortsspezifischen Arbeiten von Abdul Sharif Baruwa, Olga Chernysheva, Anna Daučíková, Zhanna Kadyrova, Elvedin Klačar, Mikhail Tolmachev, Milica Tomić, Inge Vavra, Hannes Zebedin und Videoarbeiten von Anca Benera/Arnold Estefan, Taus Makhacheva, Laure Prouvost und Titre Provisoire

kuratiert von Hedwig Saxenhuber

25. Juli bis 17. Oktober 2021

Zum Übersichtsplan ...

Freitag, 27. August 2021
14.00 Uhr Kuratorinnenführung mit
Hedwig Saxenhuber und Kunstgespräch mit ausgewählten Künstler*innen des Projektes
Treffpunkt: ehemaliges Kurhaus, Grand Semmering

19.30 Uhr Open Air Bus Kino auf der Passhöhe
Gezeigt werden die Videoarbeiten und Filme der Ausstellung und Ausschnitte aus den INVENTOUR-Reportagen**
**Die INVENTOUR-Reporter*innen Rebecca Fuxen und Sophie Stadler erforschen den Semmering und arbeiten mit dem Medium Video. Eine erste Rohfassung ihres Materials zeigen sie an diesem Abend.

Samstag, 18. September 2021
14.00 Uhr Kuratorinnenführung mit
Hedwig Saxenhuber und Kunstgespräch mit ausgewählten Künstler*innen des Projektes
Treffpunkt: Rodelwiese (hinter dem Supermarkt)

In the social and cultural history of the Semmering area, there have been many ups and downs in the economic growth and social prosperity since the famous railway made it easily accessible almost 170 years ago. It all began when the railway company laid the tracks and the alpine landscape was developed into a picturesque setting often characterized by a bourgeois culture of leisure. Nature became »tamed« as the city expanded into the landscape, bringing with it all conceivable luxurious amenities. The decline in the area due to wars, the Shoah, and major social and geopolitical changes has transformed it. In its long history, the tourist landscape has time and again been confronted with the consequences of social transformation, or it has reached its limits, or sometimes an economic boom turned into a recession. It is a place that was originally appropriated by aristocrats, industrialists, and well-known intellectuals, offering them amusement.

In the course of democratization, it became increasingly used by a broad spectrum of day trippers. Since the Semmering railway was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, the region has come into focus again. The Semmering is a landscape of superlatives and means something different for every visitor and for every era. The title of the outdoor exhibition of contemporary art spread over the Semmering area Land, Besitz und Commons (Land, Ownership and Commons) may at first seem both terse and labored. But by putting the multifaceted history of the Semmering aside, it poses questions about the significance of »land« today as a section of the Earth’s surface with its own unique nature and aspects. It points to the characteristic combination of fauna and flora, climate and geological features, as well as the human interventions that lend a landscape its appearance. Our present day and age is defined by a precarious relationship to nature.

Our dependency on technology thwarts all romantic ideas, and we always see the landscape through the lens of all the contemporary images we have seen before. How do we approach these directly accessible images of nature, the »staged views,« and the »overabundance of ideal perspectives« on site? Have these bizarre rock and mountain formations been downgraded from places of romantic ideals to mere marketing tools for tourism?
What can visual art achieve in such a dense cultural mesh of past and present?The sensorium of art consists of seeing, visualizing, researching, and analyzing. The materialization of experiences leads to sculptures, installations, and/or performances.

What we consider to be the Semmering landscape has long been structured around the standardized views it offers. Nothing is left to chance. In some places, the growth of nature is kept under control for the sake of the views, which are framed and served to the tourists to look at. The view of each artist, however, tries to counter this. It is transformed into an artistic medium, trying to elevate the concepts of nature and culture to a contemporary level beyond the dichotomy of nature and culture, while also working with current scientific paradigms. It opens up another perspective on the world (and this is more than a cliché) where we no longer see ourselves as something independent from and opposing the Earth we live on.

The »ownership« in the title refers to the lack of clarity regarding the demography in the Semmering area and the structural problems that are connected to this. This situation is due not only to people moving away, but also to the fact that, a few decades ago, several of the grand hotels and mansions were sold has second-home apartments. The »commons« in the title, which points to the future, is used in many contexts and means common property, with an emphasis not on the property, but on a social construction that is based on political decisions. It represents a call to create autonomous spaces that exists outside of capitalist structures in order to »re-enchant the world.«

In the case of Semmering, what could such enchantment mean? The approach suggested by the artists is »appropriation, exploration, selfobservation, presence, and being present—also in a broader political sense. It is about a playful approach that questions fixed viewpoints.« The various paths in the Semmering area—many of which run parallel, crossing through different properties—form a robust and dense network that leads to special views, while sometimes picking up small, insignificant things from the wayside. We are almost tempted to say that the paths in the Semmering area are themselves »commons.« They let us experience the Semmering directly as a contemporary landscape, as we walk from artwork to artwork. These paths are the second theme of this outdoor exhibition. It is this connection between human and non-human spheres that can be found in the works of the artists who have been invited to explore the situation of Semmering in different ways.

Hedwig Saxenhuber, curator and co-publisher of springerin Hefte
für Gegenwartskunst

Werkbeschreibungen: Ada Karlbauer

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