Belvedere 21 presents 'Lois Weinberger: Basics'
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Belvedere 21 presents 'Lois Weinberger: Basics'
Exhibition view "Lois Weinberger. Basics". Photo: Johannes Stoll / Belvedere, Vienna.

VIENNA.- Lois Weinberger was a pioneer of a different, artistic ecology. Describing his artistic practice as poetic field work, he emerged in the 1990s as a leading voice in the discourse around the relationship between nature and culture. In Basics, the Belvedere 21 presents the last exhibition for which Weinberger compiled a selection of works and writings until shortly before his unexpected death in April 2020. Over one hundred works created between the 1970s and 2020 are on display inside the Belvedere 21 and on the museum’s grounds.

Lois Weinberger (1947, Stams/Tyrol–2020, Vienna) was an early and visionary critic of the dislocations of the Anthropocene—the era defined by humanity’s profound impact on Earth. His oeuvre grapples with existential questions concerning the relationship between humans and their world: What constitutes our being? How do cultural influences, our own histories and those of our families, and geographical circumstances shape our lives? What are the consequences of our alienation from nature? Are nature and culture actually opposites? Can we think our existence outside of nature?

Weinberger set forth from a farmstead in Tyrol to become an ornamental blacksmith and metalworker, an actor, and a visual artist. Socialized in a time of cultural upheavals—the protests of ’68 were making headlines—he took inspiration from Minimal and Land Art, the Wiener Gruppe, Surrealism, and the Junge Wilde to forge his own conceptual art. Between ironic shamanism and a formally rigorous yet always also poetic approach, his art illustrates the limitations of human agency and lets us experience that our dominance over the natural environment is an illusion. With “precise carelessness,” Weinberger’s works interrogate our ethical standards, challenging them with the ostensibly marginal, unprofitable, and worthless and lending engaging sensual expression to an all-encompassing and ineluctable cycle of becoming and decaying.

The two-time documenta participant’s sprawling exhibition takes up the Belvedere 21’s ground-floor galleries and sculpture garden and encompasses works on paper, photographs, sculptures and objects, paintings, two videos, and six outdoor installations. It is not designed as a retrospective, although it brings together works from several decades. Rather, the show should be seen as a dynamic ensemble of cross-connections and correspondences, a tangle that encourages visitors to trace diverse, equally important narrative strands that extend through Lois Weinberger’s oeuvre. The artist worked on the conception for this exhibition—his second in Karl Schwanzer’s pavilion—from the fall of 2018 until his unexpected death on April 21, 2020. Franziska Weinberger, his partner in life and art since the 1990s, gathered his ideas and, together with the curator Severin DŁnser, put together a presentation that is faithful to the artist’s vision. The title Basics was chosen by Lois Weinberger himself; it is borrowed from his work Basics—The Idea of an Expansion: seven sculptures molded out of an earthen mix around pieces of wood rest on their backs like unfinished golems, awaiting to take shape.

Curated by Severin DŁnser.

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