...of bread, wine, cars, security and peace
“...of bread, wine, cars, security and peace” is the first exhibition of Kunsthalle Wien’s new director trio WHW (What, How & for Whom/ Ivet ?urlin, Nataša Ili?, Sabina Sabolovi?). It is big and ambitious, and one can doubtlessly regard it as a signpost for the coming years. Its title refers to the Lebanese writer Bilal Khbeiz, who mentions bread, wine, cars, security and peace in a text as condensation of the dreams and thoughts of people in the global south about a good life in the Western way. And so, the exhibition is - roughly speaking - an assembly of positions critical of capitalism and society, issues of environmental activism and political thematisations, some of which are open and artistically free, and others rather documentary. And as is the case with all group exhibitions, there are a few works that stand out, such as, for me, the installation "In the Stomach of the Predators" by Alice Creischer. In her works, she refers to actual facts which she weaves into new narratives. The figures of wolf, hyena, bear, and jackal, which are mounted on stilts in the exhibition and symbolize various forms of monopolization and privatization of common goods, in the belonging video go on journeys and get entangled in absurd situations, whereby its ugly-grotesque part consists of the seriousness of the revealed facts serving as bases.
Tuan Andrew Nguyen's video work "My Ailing Beliefs Can Cure Your Wretched Desires" is also worth mentioning. It deals with people's horrible treatment of animals in a non-linear narrative that - delicately offering a little hope - suggests a shift towards other beliefs.
This is only to pick out two positions, since over 37 artists and groups are involved in the exhibition. Visitors are handed a proper little booklet with explanations, contexts, texts related to the works and interviews - and you’ll truly need it if you want to get to the core of most of the works.
An exhibition is always a portrait of the moment and time it’s taking place in. In "...of bread, wine, cars, security and peace" one might be tempted to criticize that the selection of works seems a little arbitrary by the sheer number of issues. But as a prelude, it works nicely - and in truth everything is connected anyway.
Kunsthalle Wien im Museumsquartier und am Karlsplatz
Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien und Treitlstraße 2, 1040 Wien
1: Ausstellungsansicht: ... von Brot, Wein, Autos, Sicherheit und Frieden, Kunsthalle Wien 2020, Foto: Jorit Aust: Alice Creischer, In the Stomach of the Predators, 2012–2014, Courtesy die Künstlerin & KOW, Berlin
2: Ausstellungsansicht: ... von Brot, Wein, Autos, Sicherheit und Frieden, Kunsthalle Wien 2020, Foto: Jorit Aust: Daniel Spoerri, Fadenscheinige Orakel, 2014, Courtesy der Künstler & Verein zur Förderung des Werkes von Daniel Spoerri, Wien
3: Tuan Andrew Nguyen, My Ailing Beliefs Can Cure Your Wretched Desires, 2017, Filmstill, Courtesy der Künstler & James Cohan, New York
Header, 4: Ausstellungsansicht: ... von Brot, Wein, Autos, Sicherheit und Frieden, Kunsthalle Wien 2020, Foto: Jorit Aust: Tim Etchells, Being Free, 2020, Courtesy der Künstler; Vitrine, London/Basel; Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco/New York & Ebensperger-Rhomberg, Berlin/Salzburg