Gallery Run: Actionism, the Life Ball, and Guest Workers

Gallery Run: June 2012

The single colour photograph in Morianz’s exhibition at 4e7 Artforum

In the 16th, migrant workers are the subject of an unconventional exhibit

The single colour photograph in Morianz’s exhibition at 4e7 Artforum

The single colour photograph in Morianz’s exhibition at 4e7 Artforum

Next to gilded Klimt, the wild performances of Viennese Actionists of the 1960s are one of the international trademarks of Austrian culture. In post-war, post-occupation Austria, Actionism was catharsis, protest, and a libidinal liberation that broke with art traditions, paving the way for contemporary performance art. Figuratively, Actionism still visualizes cultural symptoms, today in the form of archives, immigration, and identity politics.


Sammlung Friedrichshof: Allan Kaprow Stockroom

Sammlung Friedrichshof is located in Zurndorf – the former, but still controversial, Otto Mühl Commune. This historic place, now a gallery, pays tribute to the Viennese Actionists from Hermann Nitsch, Guenther Brus, and Otto Mühl, to Rudolf Schwarzkogler. It is a self-anointed place for dialogue: Friedrichshof showcases and places some early “performance art” in context, beginning with the work of Allan Kaprow, who helped the first “happening” in 1959.

A term that later came to include a broad range of improvised spectacles, often involving audience participation, “happenings” began as meticulously staged fantasy, based on a system of formal relations and a pattern of meanings in real time.

Ironically, this active, irreverent  art is now fixed in archives, frozen behind glass vitrines, bottling up the raw freedom of the avant garde. Carefully framed, a day calendar documents Kaprow’s group actions: changing tires, stacking barrels, or building a wall out of ice.

As the connective device between Viennese Actionism and American Happenings, Friedrichshof invited Media Studies students to reinvent and reconstruct Stockroom. A room was filled with cardboard boxes and the viewers engaged with the space by spray-painting or writing on them. More reproduction than reenactment, the students independently built another work outside of the gallery.

Sammlung Friedrichshof’s other address, in Vienna’s 4th District, shows Kaprow’s Stockroom instructions.

Sammlung Friedrichshof
Römerstrasse 1
A-2424 Zurndorf
4., Schleifmühlgasse 6
0676 749 7682
0660 250 9538


4e7 Artforum: Markus Morianz: Drugs saved my life Ums Leben feiern

The single colour photograph in Morianz’s exhibition at 4e7 Artforum | Photo: Nina Prader

In Markus Morianz’s black and white untitled photographs everyone is smiling: The Cambodian HIV-positive orphans wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Drugs saved my life”, and the Life Ball’s performance hedonists. The Life Ball is the largest and most flamboyant festivity to fundraise support for people with HIV and AIDS and the Tyrolean artist has photographed the spectacle for more than seven years now, depicting the complexities and ambivalence the event carries with it, the opulence of the party in contrast to the seriousness of the reason.

In one picture, a woman holds up a stiletto heel in protest and in party-mode, young tattooed couples make out in oblivious celebration, and celebrities like Naomi Campbell make a sneak appearance. The welcome and exit piece – a Cambodian boy next to a campy mural reading “Don’t worry be happy” – is the only colour image showing.

4e7 Artforum
6., Schmalzhofgasse 1b
Mon.-Thu., 15:00-18:00


Boem: Living and Working in Vienna – Guest Workers

In correlation with the Wiener Festwochen, Boem, a cultural center in the 16th District showcases “lebt und arbeitet in Wien” (living and working in Vienna) in line with Act II of the New Boemian Gastarbeiter Opera. The gallery is the former stockroom of an Ex-Yugoslav worker’s café, the exhibited works created and curated by migrant workers. Through art, the space seeks to expand the forum for discussion on immigration politics and visibility.

In the 16th, migrant workers are the subject of an unconventional exhibit | Photo: Nina Prader

Strikingly, a pair of cheap, white, high-heels stands without their wearer, forlornly in the window display, silently pointing to hushed forms of migrant work. Video interviews, drawings, and paintings line the frugal space. The show itself is contemporary Actionism, the traditional parameters of the art world used to give a voice to those who would not otherwise have one.

Rather than the usual blasé, wine-sipping gallery crowd, Boem’s ambiance was unconventional. One of the waitresses sang and viewers ate homemade cake, couples felt at home enough to kiss in public. In spite of the discriminatory politics surrounding the works, a very convivial and hopeful atmosphere permeates Boem. One of the pieces on display is a mosaic that references Surrealist Magritte’s pipe. Boem itself is a mosaic, drawing people from all districts and cultures for discussion, and quite surreal.


16., Koppstraße 26
Visits only by appointment
0680 230 65 67

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