The Assault of the Present

Exhibition - University Gallery Heiligenkreuzer Hof

Prospects in Post-Growth

The conditions under which this exhibition is being developed are not least of all the result of a global state of emergency. Artists question a present that is marked by eschatological concepts and crises, while at the same time searching for fresh concepts and demanding new models.

(c) Michael Wallraff

(c) Michael Wallraff

The constantly rekindled desire for consumption which is actually never satisfying; the routine access to long-since limited resources; cities in a virtually self-evident state of sell-out; unprotected work without any prospect of security and development; an automobilism that has fallen out of time; social cohesion measured by the exponential curves of a pandemic; the suspension of the public—the list could go on much further, but only to hold on to fragments of a reality that does not pause.

The imaginable future images of such a present seem only conceivable as brutal, unbearable, and unstoppable dystopias that lead to an ecological catastrophe, to climate collapse, to mass extinction. The utopia, as promising as it is unattainable, which envisages a fair and just society of ten billion people on earth by 2050, in which a decarbonized, sustainable economy is in harmony with nature, makes the horror scenarios appear all the more powerful and probable.

To whom can and should this future be handed over? Who aims to pause in the process of acceleration? Who is willing to take responsibility for setting new coordinates? How can the unplanned be planned? How can power structures be demonstrated? How can images of a future become tangible and can lead to a dynamization of society be developed? These are all big, indeed enormous questions that still need to be asked—after all, in “coronous” times.

In any case, artists do not wish to evade the old and yet still topical question “How to make the world work?” (R. Buckminster Fuller), since they not only problematize physical laws or the supposed reason of an established (growth-oriented) order. They counter the current adversities with confrontation, action and provocation, developing and conceiving structures that need not be driven by fear. The point is to open spaces of imagination, perhaps to make escape attempts, to call for large and small flights, and to exemplify rebellious practices. (B. Felderer, B. Horvath)

* The title is borrowed from Alexander Kluge’s film The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time (1985).

Curatorial Team

Brigitte Felderer, Barbara Horvath, Nina Pohler, Alexandra Strickner

Participating Artists

Allora & Calzadilla, Sophie Bösker, Nikolaus Gansterer, Oto Hudec, Markus Jeschaunig, Maria Kanzler, Krištof Kintera, Justin Lieberman, Christian Kosmas Mayer, Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch, Katrin Plavčak, Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger, Michael Strasser, Herwig Turk and Anna Vasof

11 November 2020 – 23 January 2021
University Gallery Heiligenkreuzer Hof (University of Applied Arts Vienna)
Schönlaterngasse 5
1010 Vienna