Howling at the Moon – exhibition pending

In the latest post from her residency at AIR Krems, Sue Morris reviews a contemporary art exhibition and thinks ahead to her own new exhibition in Baden bei Wien on Saturday 24 November. Excitement, trepidation and logistical problems abound.

A joint exhibition opened last Saturday at Kunsthalle, Krems, by artists Anna Jermolaewa, originally from Russia, and Thomas Feurstein. The event was supported by music from Russian DJs and a turn from a performing dog!
It was an interesting exhibition to take in, especially when I had no comprehension of the supporting texts in German and thus no interpretative direction. What stood out for me instantly was the stark contrast between the two artists in terms of the content of their work and the media they used. Feurstein’s gleaming and seductive sculptural pieces – freestanding and in large format – explore artistic transformations, moments of alchemy perhaps, where art becomes science and science becomes art. Jermolaewa’s work, on the other hand, is presented with an economy of means, using materials such as masking tape, clip frames and panel pins. Her work is pared down but visually arresting, particularly the video pieces that work as an insider-outsider eye – documenting, interrogating and reflecting on the native country that she was forced to leave. For me, her work was by far the more interesting and thought-provoking.

It was also yet another reminder that my own exhibition opens next Saturday at the Kunstverein Galerie in Baden bei Wien, just south of Vienna.
The gallery is one of a number of art institutions that come under the umbrella of Lower Austria Contemporary. During my week in Vienna, I visited Baden to meet the director, Cornelia König, take a look at the gallery space and deposit some of my work in advance of the exhibition.

Entitled Hortus Conclusus, the enclosed garden, it explores notions of constriction and growth, order and entropy, particularly within the dynamic of the domestic space. The work will include drawings, assemblages, a soundscape (thank you Steve!), manmade nests and nine, four-metre columns of wool that I am thinking of installing in a separate, enclosed space so that the viewer will have to negotiate him/herself through and around them (see photos in my post of 9 November).

Most of the work can be easily transported from Krems to Baden apart, that is, from the columns of wool. How I am going to pack, move and re-hang them in the gallery without them self-tangling? When Damien Hirst installs his sheep in formaldehyde he has a number of assistants to brush away the air bubbles from the fleece. I may be in need of a small army of ‘untanglers’!

I always feel a mixture of excitement and high anxiety before opening an exhibition of my work. Questions, questions! Is there enough time for installation? Will it work within the space? Will it work at all? All my critical faculties are needed because it is important to keep an open mind regarding editing and revision, response to site, and the placement and function of each component. With only three days allocated to mount the work, I can only trust that there will be enough time. And trust in myself as well.
Watch this space!