KUNST HAUS WIEN
Untere Weissgerberstrae 13
January 22May 22
View of “Anita Witek: About Life,” 2016.
Layer by layer, Anita Witek’s image-worlds are built up; layer by layer, visitors work through the diverse formats in this exhibition: photomontage, slide projection, installation, and small detailed sculpture in display cases. The unifying element in “About Life” are found photographs that Witek cuts from posters and fashion and lifestyle magazines, which she reworks to develop, from the remaining backgrounds, abstract and surreal architectures that unsettle the gaze.
For the two-channel slide projection Retour en forme (Back in Shape), 2008, which cites a Constructivist vocabulary, sheet after sheet of cut pages from magazines are photographically documented and presented in an arrangement of animated images. The assembly plays as much with the moment of showing as that of hiding. The high point of the exhibition is the installation About Life, 2016, a site-specific piece you can walk on and in which Witek’s image-spaces turn into real architecture. Cut posters hang from nearly three-foot-high wooden frameworks and from the wall. The photographic gray gradients are interrupted by the flash of the blue reverse side of the paper as well as by the lines of sight in the space. The source materials here advertise retrospectives at the Kunst Haus Wien devoted to Robert Mapplethorpe, Man Ray, and Albert Watson, and the images of their works—in changed, abstracted form—circulate new ideas. Throughout, “About Life” trumpets the coming and going of photographic images—an interminable stream, as one is acquainted with it in real life.
Translated from German by Diana Reese.
Asmalı Mescit Mh., Meşrutiyet Cd No:93
January 30March 27
Pilvi Takala, Workers Forum, 2015, HD animation, 13 minutes 57 seconds.
When the sun sets in Istanbul, the architectural hodgepodge of Beyoğlu—the main cultural and (especially) nightlife artery of the city—comes alive with palpably garish, universally dramatic lighting on its fin-de-siѐcle and post-’80s facades alike. The source of this visual din, an uninterrupted series of light-accessory shops, proceeds uphill, culminating in a gigantic LED panel atop the Marmara Pera hotel that serves as a screen for the nonprofit art space YAMA. Established by Sylvia Kouvali (the founder of Rodeo Gallery) with support from Kağan Grsel (the hotel’s owner), YAMA—which means “patch” in Turkish—has in the past “patched in” works by the likes of Claire Fontaine, Wael Shawky, and Jordan Wolfson to the fabled Istanbul skyline; now it has become the sight/site of Pilvi Takala’s Workers Forum, 2015.
Workers Forum, in its various incarnations, showcases various messages collected from an online support message board for the employees of a microlabor platform—in this case the US-based service known as Invisible Girlfriend/Boyfriend, which sends its customers SMS messages from imaginary partners. The negligible pay, Takala admits as a veteran employee, leaves no doubt that the workers—often addictively—carry on for pleasure. While there are strict virtual boundaries to intimacy with customers, messages on the forum evince a bizarre community in the making: “I am proud of us,” writes a certain “Garish,” while “Jesse” complains: “People are not convinced that we are real.” Despite perhaps failing to create a semblance of reality, these fictions of affection are fraught with competition: “Ebony,” an employee, complains that “the new ones do not bother to play their parts” and prompts a collective call among other experienced employees to oust the newbies without proper work ethics. The conspicuous and decidedly benevolent desire to serve better and spread kindness for almost no pay, a comical allegory of good government, stands in silent but scathing contrast to the state corruption and police violence that Istanbul harbors.
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