Christa Steinle

CONCEPT FOR THE AUSTRIAN PAVILION 2017

My exhibition concept for the Austrian Pavilion – 2017 Venice Biennale envisages two internationally successful Austrian artists: Erwin Wurm and Brigitte Kowanz. Both are state prize winners, who have had numerous solo exhibitions in the most important art centres from Paris to New York. Their art works can be found in important museum collections and private collections. Over the last decades, both have played an important role in shaping Austria’s contribution to international trends. Through her light work, Brigitte Kowanz has extended the concept of image in terms of immateriality.

 

She makes light objects, light installations, light spaces and light architecture. Erwin Wurm has extended the concept of sculpture in terms of materiality. He has given an essential impulse to the performative turn– the transformation of art objects into forms of action and the extension of sculpture into media. Wurm creates sculpture performances, sculpture installations, spatial sculptures and architecture sculptures. In his work, sculpture becomes architecture, action and medial notation. Wurm and Kowanz are connected by their interest in the relationship between image/sculpture and architecture. Using her light installations, Kowanz has redefined public space and architecture in an immaterial manner.

With his famous house paraphrases, from Narrow House to House Attack, Wurm has transformed sculpture into architecture. Time and again, the Austrian Pavilion has become a site of architectural metamorphosis, a place of artistic and cultural reflection. The work of the two artists I have selected show that everyone is capable of contributing to tradition in their own way and bringing about convincing artistic surprises. Kowanz and Wurm work at the front line of international avant-garde movements: they have extended sculpture and imagery into architecture and public participation.