'Ingrid Wiener, Martin Roth: From far away you see more' opens at Kunsthaus Graz

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'Ingrid Wiener, Martin Roth: From far away you see more' opens at Kunsthaus Graz
Ingrid Wiener, „Atelier Markus Lüpertz“, 1992-1993, Gobelin. Courtesy of Estrellita B. Brodsky Collection, Photo: Nick Ash.



GRAZ.- Two artists, two generations. And two first major institutional retrospectives that complement each other in their conceptual approaches and shake up the central perspective on humans. “The centre no longer exists,” says Rosi Braidotti, the great philosopher of the posthuman. Instead, there is the factor of time and a pressing question of the responsibility and solidarity of the individual. The exhibition juxtaposes two positions that see the environment, the world around us, as a growing symbiosis. Disciplines are questioned, expanded and interwoven. One artist weaves what she sees, she draws and writes what she dreams, takes photos from a plane and is famous for her cooking. The other, almost two generations younger, begins with painting, expands it, builds landscapes and devotes himself to conceptual art and minimal art from the perspective of all living things. Carpets overgrown with grass, animals as workers in artificially clean worlds, ducks mapping the studio. What unites both is the inclusive and eternally inquiring gaze from a distance.

The exhibition at Kunsthaus Graz brings together the works of Ingrid Wiener and Martin Roth, giving rise to a world of wondrous networks beyond anthropocentrism. It shows Ingrid Wiener’s dream drawings, many of her most important tapestries from 1985 to 2023, but also a series of photos and a number of films created in exchange with others and her immediate environment. Wiener’s works are juxtaposed with a series of interactive and reactivated sound installations, films and two-dimensional works by Martin Roth. In his work until 2019 he gave the organic – the animal and the plant – supporting roles in a collaborative approach.

The Austrian artist Martin Roth died far too early, having already attracted international attention with his site-specific installations and interventions between art and nature. His ephemeral and temporary spaces, sometimes apocalyptic-dystopian scenes made of rubble, bricks or the waste of civilisation, are critical examinations of a society of abundance and privilege. Ohne Titel (Bonsai), the first work in the exhibition by Martin Roth, explores precisely this theme of cultivation. The two-part work consists of a minimalistically staged bonsai and a harmonious soundscape made by animals in the basement. Here the consequences of domestication are made clear, focusing attention on the invisible collaborators of cultural production. In the work’s reactivation for the Kunsthaus, the animals will only be kept here for a short time for reasons of animal welfare. Having lived in a cage, they will then find a more species-appropriate home at Tierpark Herberstein. Following this, there will be acoustic recordings and an educational discussion about the living conditions of creatures will form part of the broad programme at the exhibition centre. From 2007 on, after his time as a student in New York, Roth’s works included in part rescued animals (frogs, birds, snails, laboratory mice, etc.) and/or plants. Landscapes made of price tags or grips incorporated animals even during his studies. As a clinical place the white cube was, for Roth, obsolete. His work probes the living conditions of both the human and the non-human animal, Western ideas of culture are critiqued. In a 2017 interview with “The Creative Independent”, Roth speaks of growing up surrounded by nature in Styria and how greatly that influenced him. “Living in a cosmopolitan city ever since then, I’m interested in this idea that we’re so removed from nature, and the nature we know has been so intensely cultivated,” he adds. In 2019, he planned a solo exhibition at Kunst Haus Wien, which had to open without him following his untimely death. In 2021, the work In October 2019 I listened to animals imitating humans – an expanse of rubble and ruined monuments from which plants are sprouting while birds imitate the sound of a mobile phone – was reactivated at Kunsthaus Graz. It forms – now inside the technologically aestheticised architecture of the Kunsthaus – a centre for the exhibition. Cultural production, technical innovation and dwindling resources represent a cycle of growth, of decay and the necessary shifts in values and perspectives.

“My interest in collaborating with nature has to do with the fact that I wanted my art to be alive. To have a life of its own and to be constantly changing and evolving.” -- Martin Roth

Over the decades, Ingrid Wiener has practised weaving in all living environments and produced many tapestries in which she interweaves the process of seeing with the time-intensive process of weaving. In doing so, she has created a specific technique that expands the possibilities of figurative painting as “seeing through the warp”. Here she shows both the constantly displaced gaze and also weaving itself as a process. Hence the exhibition opens – echoing Roth’s inclusive view of his environment – with her important work Windowview (1985-87), which exaggerates the painterly topos of the view out of the window, and through the aspect of time expands it into multifocal seeing.

Since 1995, Ingrid Wiener has been creating watercolours of imaginary images in dreams. Her filigree drawings on paper, lightly and fragmentarily painted with watercolour, blithely capture a flow of images. Standing in contrast to Roth’s expanse of debris we find her monumental collaboration with Dieter Roth (1991 - 1996). 64 individual tapestries – the result of an exchange of letters between Canada and Iceland, here becoming a monument to the inclusion of the everyday. Everything is gathered here, flat waste together with views from the window and into the past.
Part of the exhibition is dedicated to Wiener’s life in Alaska. She depicts powerful natural landscapes which – from the plane, behind the camera and at the loom – celebrate humans in their spirit of adventure while at the same time rendering them small and ephemeral.

“Weaving is a very long and slow technique – the transformation not only of things but of perspective, light and so on is also processed. every ‘blink of an eye’ creates a new moment of ‘seeing’ and (thus) a new pattern.” --Ingrid Wiener

Interwoven in the exhibition space, Wiener’s complex weaving or sound works emphatically point to the dimension of time. Artistic work is shown here as an exploratory process: the themes of constant development, nurture and interaction run through both work complexes. So it is that the show creates, on one hand, an artistic dialogue about artistic creation beyond traditional values and, on the other hand, expresses the symbiosis of living things, in which time, space and matter interweave.

In both work complexes, the combination of the supposedly incompatible also represents a plea for an open society in solidarity, transcending rigid hierarchies and demarcations. It shows a world that reminds us of Donna Haraway’s prominent Chthulucene, in which humankind seems ephemeral – well positioned not at the centre but at the edges of these constantly evolving structures: observing, enabling and learning.

Instead of the question Who are you, the question is Where are you speaking from?










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