Public Matters: Contemporary art in the Belevedere Garden on view until October 2023
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Public Matters: Contemporary art in the Belevedere Garden on view until October 2023
Hans Op de Beeck, The Horseman, 2020. Polyester, steel, polyamide, brass, coating. Courtesy Hans Op de Beeck and Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna, © Bildrecht, Vienna 2023. Photo: Johannes Stoll / Belvedere, Vienna © Bildrecht, Vienna 2023.

VIENNA.- Art—a public matter? In a large ourdoor sculpture project, the Belvedere is placing contemporary art in the spotlight of its 2023 anniversary. Stella Rollig, General Director: It is the most ambitious project of this anniversary year: True to the spirit of their original dedication, the grounds of the Belvedere will be permeated with art—radically current, surprising, site-specific. Contemporary artists sharpen our gaze at the past through the lens of the present.

Ever since their opening to the general public in the 1780s, the Belvedere Gardens have been used extensively as places for recreation and communality. The fact that they are clearly also places for art is highlighted by Public Matters. Works by thirty-three local and international contemporary artists connect all the museum’s gardens—from the main courtyard of the Lower Belvedere and the Privy Garden to the grand Baroque gardens of the Upper Belvedere and the modernist sculpture garden of the Belvedere 21—and help us to see these spaces as an ensemble that has evolved over time.

Both site-specifically developed as well as already existing artworks reflect the full scope of what sculpture can be today: performative, installative, process- and time-based works are displayed alongside traditional forms or sculpture, underlining the expanded concept of sculpture to which the exhibition refers. Moreover, integrating these different artistic approaches in the historical setting of the Belvedere Gardens opens up fresh, critical perspectives on public forms of representing power and prestige through the ages. This is conveyed particularly vividly by the allusions of individual works to the historical structural and functional elements in the gardens. Art—as the various works lucidly demonstrate— always reflects the social conditions of its time.

Participation and individual ways of experiencing art are central to the project. These are further emphasized by the free admission to the grounds: Visitors can decide themselves when, how often, in which ways, and how extensively they engage with the works on display.

Luisa Ziaja, Chief Curator: The title Public Matters refers both to matters of public concern and to the social importance of the public sphere. Both readings are present in this exhibition: The works address current topics of today, such as ecology, migration, gender issues or world concepts. In the interplay between the historical ensemble and contemporary interventions, a place of negotiation, and thus ultimately a public sphere, is created both with and through art.

Alongside well-known artists such as Louise Bourgeois, VALIE EXPORT, Dan Graham, Thomas Houseago, Brigitte Kowanz, Hans Op de Beeck, Kara Walker, Lois Weinberger, Lawrence Weiner, Franz West, and Fritz Wotruba, the exhibition presents new site-specific works by Verena Dengler, Thomas Geiger, Iman Issa, Kapwani Kiwanga, Goshka Macuga, Toni Schmale, and Kateřina Šedá. The selection is completed by key examples from the collection and existing works by Thomas Baumann, Renate Bertlmann, Carola Dertnig, Fria Elfen & Wil Frenken, Roland Goeschl, Alfred Hrdlicka, Anna Jermolaewa & Manfred Grübl, Hans Kupelwieser, Marko Lulić, Ingeborg G. Pluhar, Maruša Sagadin, Socratis Socratous, and Heimo Zobernig.

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