In 2016, the Kunsthalle Wien Prize jury decided in favour of art created by two artists who clearly demonstrate a conceptual and aesthetic autonomy and whose art isn’t fully suited to an art market that is strictly focused on complying with contemporary trends.
Andrej Polukord: The Sarcophagus
Rather than predominantly working in traditional art spaces, Andrej Polukord instead works in and with environments that he creates or finds in an urban or landscape setting. “What especially interests me is creating a feeling of surprise and unpredictability. Equally important to me are double meanings and ambiguities, which above all play a crucial role in my performances,” says the artist, for whom absurd situations play an essential role when it comes to enriching daily life: “The absurd liberates us from the seriousness that otherwise always sets the tone in our life. And
performance should have a close relationship to life; that’s the only way to make it very emotional and understandable.” For the Kunsthalle Wien, Andrej Polukord has contributed a sample of his art, which draws on painting, installation, performance and video art. During the opening performance, a cube made of bricks will reveal, under the title The Sarcophagus, something of its own inner workings. Indeed, this interior may somewhat resemble those cavities, which the artist – in his most recent video work Höhlen (Caves) – recommends as a great place to pick mushrooms. Meanwhile, mushrooms can also be seen growing down from the ceiling of the exhibition space, which the artist thus transforms into a forest floor – a real forest as a space where art takes place being, in fact, quite rare at Karlsplatz in Vienna.
Margit Busch: IF-THEN-ELSE. Welcome to Transciency
Else Sibil Somone, a researcher living in the future who was discovered by Margit Busch, likewise addresses possible configurations of art and nature. In her transcientist laboratory, for example, she raises mealworms and thereby demonstrates how, among other things, these larvae can recycle polystyrene by using it as a food source – as can the beetles (Tenebrio molitor) that develop from them. By generating ecological insights, these experiments shed light on the future and may even become relevant to securing the world’s food supply (protein-rich insects!). However, they are just one part of the extensive research domain of transciency, a brand-new discipline dedicated to phenomena implicitly pre-logical and transrational (and drawing on these phenomena as well).
Such phenomena are presented in the exhibition both in the form of individual lab objects as well as collectively through a type of map – the transmap. It’s when we look at the map that we realize at the latest, that one of transciency’s major findings is: the world is not categorically logical and it therefore cannot (only) be explored using purely logical means. Here it is obvious that conventional notions of time and space may conflict with forthcoming findings produced by disciplines such as quantum physics or thermodynamics. If almost 100 years ago the DADAist Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven said that “art will become a lab for ideas and concepts,” today it could be said that the transcientist art lab will become a hub for the production of scholarly, philosophical, artistic and practical ideas and concepts.