Vienna, as seen from the Upper Belvedere Museum
Last week was spent in Vienna (Austria), a city bursting with history and art, as well as home of culinary specialties including the infamous Wiener Schnitzel (no, it’s not a hot dog!).
The occasion was my participation in a workshop on curating, conducted by the enterprising and well-informed art historian Kristin Dittrich, who also happens to be the Founder and Director of the Shift School for Photography in Dresden, Germany. The location was the Anzenberger Gallery, a place known for its emphasis on contemporary photography as well as its special nurturing of photobooks through its affiliated store. All these subtopics would certainly merit separate articles, especially since the Shift School is the site of the complete Steidl Library with well over a thousand volumes, a unique contribution to the documentation and use of photobooks.
The workshop was a highly fascinating experience. Kristin knows how to combine theory with practice, as well as how to build in the experience of the participants at various points in the proceedings. Many hints on the process of curating exhibitions were included, as well as some practical exercises on how to sort topics, issues, styles, and images into an actual exhibit, along with a formal presentation and the fielding of audience responses. A museum visit (Kunst Haus Wien) and the Ostlicht Gallery and Library were also included. The Shift School is offering a variety of events and classes throughout the year, highly recommended!
Naturally, you can’t be in Vienna without visiting some other museums and cultural events. Highlights were Belvedere Castle with its Klimt exhibits, 18th century Messerschmidt facial selfie sculptures, and Klemens Brosch, who was a particularly gifted early 20th century creator of drawings that approximated photographic quality and moods, with a special bent for science fiction. Kafka’s Metamorphosis (Die Verwandlung) at the intimate Pygmalion Theater provided a stunning tour-de-force performance by Philipp Kaplan as the stressed outsider figure.
Lest you fear that I was lacking other sustenance, I am including a soupscape, first photographed and subsequently consumed at Anzenberger Gallery, as well as an image of a slice of walnut cake, for your vicarious pleasure. Wahnsinn!
Anzenberger Gallery: Gilbert Garcin exhibit, “Life is a Theater” (through May 19, 2018)
Kristin Dittrich, Director of the Shift School of Photography in Dresden, teaching the curating workshops at Anzenberger Gallery in Vienna
Sketch/model for a photography exhibit on positive aspects of aging, “Hey, we are still around!” designed by Franziska Neidhart and Gerhard Clausing as part of the Shift School Curating Workshops
Kunst Haus Wien exhibit: “It’s not me, it’s a photograph” by Elina Brotherus (through August 19, 2018)
“It’s not me, it’s my shadow”: The viewer (GC) superimposed on the video projection by Elina Brotherus
An early example of selfies: one of Messerschmidt’s 60 facial grimace sculptures of himself (this one, about to sneeze), 1771-1783; Upper Belvedere Museum
Lower Belvedere Museum exhibit featuring the rediscovered Klemens Brosch (through June 3, 2018)
Klemens Brosch, “The Crocodile on the Moon Disk” – ca. 1912, property of Österreichisches Landesmuseum
Soupscape, observed and consumed at the curating workshop, taking care of the stomach
Vienna is famous for its cakes and pastries: Walnut Cake, Café L. Heiner, Vienna
All photographs © 2018 Gerhard Clausing