Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen

Maria Anwander

26 Jul - 05 Oct 2014

© Maria Anwander
The Kiss, 2007/2010
Courtesies: Maria Anwander: the artist; Steve Turner Contemporary, LA; Arratia Beer, Berlin, Photo: Christian Anwander
In a Certain State of Uncertainty
26 July – 5 October 2014

Maria Anwander (*1980) from Vorarlberg knows how to kiss the walls of the most famous museums of the world so intensely that she not only leaves behind a work in the form of an illegal performance but, above all, questions the hierarchies in the art world. As a conceptual artist she dedicates the majority of her research towards so-called institutional critique whereby, besides art institutions and their roles, she is also interested in the whole art system, especially artists. Maria Anwander’s works are perplexing with their humour, precision and a certain mercilessness.

At her solo exhibition at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Maria Anwander is presenting a broad selection of works, some recently produced, in three different fields: on the one hand she is showing various appropriations which are based upon important works of recent art history – especially Concept Art and Appropriation Art itself – including Fountain after Sherrie Levine (2012). It refers to a 1991 work by American artist Sherrie Levine, a cast-bronze of the trail-blazing readymade by Marcel Duchamp from 1917. Anwander goes a step further by giving a urinal a title which leaves Duchamp, the creator of the work, out. Some of Anwander’s appropriations contain a subtle feminist reference to the reception of art by women, for example her new work Leap into the Void (2014), for which she reconstructed the eponymous, world-famous, Yves Klein performance in a state of advanced pregnancy.

Anwander’s interventions in museums make up another group of works presented at the Kunst Halle. For example, the video The Kiss (MoMA), which documents how the artist kisses a wall at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and then, without permission, fixes a label describing the work and declaring her kiss to be a gift to the museum collection. Other examples are My Most Favourite Art – a collection of museum labels of the artist’s favourite works which she purloined from museums – or the video The Contribution (LACMA), in which Anwander can be seen adding her name to a list of prominent museum patrons hanging in the entrance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Maria Anwander does not only challenge the institution and its conventions but also the imagination of the public. At Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen one of the three exhibition halls will thus remain closed with a notice saying that this is because the artworks may not always be in accordance with the ethical ideas of the public. As exhibition visitors we are repeatedly confronted with similar warning notices and they make clear that certain works are judged to be too provocative or too close to the borders of illegality for the institutions of the art world. However, because of the warning the work is robbed of any power in advance and its exhibiting is thereby actually rendered obsolete. Anwander also directly intervenes in the everyday work of the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen: the office will be transferred to one of the exhibition halls where the team will go about its daily work for the whole duration of the exhibition. On the one hand the artist is thereby showing the work that lies behind the organisation of exhibitions and on the other she is challenging the Kunst Halle staff to question themselves and their roles in the machinery of art.

Maria Anwander (*1980 in Bregenz, AT; lives in Berlin) studied Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaften at the Universität Wien and Bildende Kunst at the Akademie der Künste in Wien. Solo exhibitions (selection): Karlin Studios, Prag, CZ *; Arratia Beer, Berlin, DE; Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles (2014); Luis Adelantado, Valencia, ES; Galerie Hollenstein, Lustenau, AT * (2013); AC Institute, New York (2012); ORF Funkhaus Dornbirn, AT; MUSA - Startgalerie, Wien * (2011). Group exhibitions (selection):Insitu, Berlin; Galeria Miejska Arsenał, Poznań, PL; Matadero Madrid - Center for Contemporary Art, ES; Darmstädter Sezession, Darmstadt, DE; Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein; KEX - Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Wien (2013); Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico D. F.; Grimmuseum, Berlin; Künstlerhaus im Palais Thurn und Taxis, Bregenz, AT (2012); Künstlerhaus Wien; 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2011).
* collaboration with Ruben Aubrecht

The exhibition is supported by Land Vorarlberg, Bundeskanzleramt Österreich and videocompany.ch.

Tags: Maria Anwander, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Klein, Sherrie Levine