Magazine article Artforum International

"Trauer": Atelier Augarten Zentrum Fur Zeitgenossische Kunst der Osterreichischen Galerie Belvedere

Magazine article Artforum International

"Trauer": Atelier Augarten Zentrum Fur Zeitgenossische Kunst der Osterreichischen Galerie Belvedere

Article excerpt

Through the centuries, the theme of pathos has become rarer in art. Today it is almost taboo. At the Osterreichische Galerie in the baroque Belvedere Palace, one sees how in classical painting and sculpture death and loss leads to transfiguration and victory. But mourning in contemporary art? In "Trauer" (Mourning) their manifold contradictions have been productively addressed by the gallery's curator of modern and contemporary art, Thomas Trummer, who in his catalogue essay measures the representability of mourning and tragedy by way of such texts as Freud's "Mourning and Melancholia," Barthes's Camera Lucida, and Derrida's "The Death of Roland Barthes," developing a phenomenology of loss.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres's minimal "Untitled" (For New York), 1992, gives particular insight into the exhibition. It is one of a number of strings of lightbulbs that would be nearly identical but for their titles, which Gonzalez-Torres associated with memorable events, places, and people More obviously a memento mori is the Cuban-born artist's lapidary photograph, also from 1992, of colorful flowers stuck into the ground; only the work's subtitle discloses that they were placed on the grave of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

The 1975 disappearance in a sailboat off Cape Cod of Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader remains a mystery to this day. In his film I'm too sad to tell you, 1970-71, he cries, silently and heartrendingly, for nearly three and a half minutes. Ader never provided any explanation for this dramatically portrayed breakdown, though he did name as a historical precedent for his tears the melodrama of the Renaissance, as in certain works by Rogier van der Weyden or Giovanni Bellini, as well as the grieving women in Picasso's Guernica. For his concentrated form of mourning, Ader uses an explicitly narrative medium, film--only to refuse, just as explicitly, to fully exploit the medium's narrative potential. …

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