frei_raum Q21 exhibition space/MuseumsQuartier Wien

Karthik Pandian, Victory, 2014. HD video, 55-inch Panasonic plasma, 41-minute loop. Photo: Andrea Rossetti. Courtesy the artist and Federica Schiavo Gallery, Rome.

September 17, 2015

23 September–22 November 2015
Press tour: 22 September, 10am
Opening: 22 September, 7pm

freiraum Q21 INTERNATIONAL/MuseumsQuartier Wien
Museumsplatz 1
1070 Vienna
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 1–4pm & 4:30–8pm
Admission free


This exhibition explores levitation as resistance, protest and freedom, as well as its potential to overcome gravity and make people and objects rise. Levitate! Curated by Daria Khan (Russia), the exhibition will be held at freiraum Q21 INTERNATIONAL in the MuseumsQuartier Wien from 23 September–22 November 2015.

In October 1967, a group of social activists organized the action “Levitate the Pentagon,” endeavoring to exorcise the Pentagon with their collective energy until it rose and turned orange, driving out evil spirits and ending the war in Vietnam. People sang and held hands, but the Pentagon failed to rise (although some people claimed to have seen it shudder). 

The spectacle, togetherness, and humor of the protest are relevant today in a context of increasing pressure, control and total surveillance. With the verticality implicit to levitating, the exhibition deconstructs the hierarchies of social and gendered dominance, elitism and authority—but also engages with delusion and hocus-pocus as well.

Ivan Argote’s (Colombia) Hangover and Extasy is by the MQ main entrance: an obelisk deprived of its verticality and power, lying on the ground, bowing towards the Empress opposite. The capsules of the pop-up Oneiric Hotel by Julijonas Urbonas (Lithuania) provide a levitation experience using special dream-directing equipment. The project is an artistic reconstruction of a number of scientific sleep experiments on inducing and controlling lucid gravitational dreams of flying, falling and levitation.

Kristof Kintera’s (Czech Republic) Weightlessness, a pair of solidified empty socks standing on a flying carpet, engages humorously with human empowerment and the capacity to detach from everyday contexts in search of more. While Cinthia Marcelle’s (Brazil) R=0 (Austrian Version) reenacts a school prank in a simple but legible exercise of rebellion that suggests emancipation from social order and the rule of discipline.

Karthik Pandian’s (USA) sculpture Abracadabra consists of readymade elements: a megaphone topped with a magician’s top hat and gloves, engaging with protest and the many aspirations related to it. With no elements touching the ground, the sculpture is an ironic reminder of the “miraculous” power that underlies social uprising. Emiliano Maggi’s (Italy) sculpture is based on devices concealed under the clothes of street performers to create the illusion of levitation, as is to be demonstrated in a performance. Cooking Sections (Israel/Spain) serve a dinner menu that speculates on a future diet using water-stress and drought-resistant crops.

Christian Jankowski (Germany) focuses on the spectacle of resistance in his project Heavy Weight History, for which a group of burly weightlifters attempted to lift a number of massive public sculptures in Warsaw. Wearing their national colors, champion musclemen strain to elevate hefty bronze and brick monuments, metaphorically attempting to lift the burden of history on to their own shoulders.

Visitors are also invited to compile their own levitation package in the exhibition.

A public program of artists’ talks, performances, interdisciplinary conversations and a symposium during the Vienna Art Week on 21 November provide a conceptual and philosophical framework for the show. The symposium provides a brief history of levitation, and an exploration of the scientific colonization of sleep and lucid decapitation.

Iván Argote (Colombia), Anton Burdakov (Great Britain)*, Cooking Sections (Israel/Spain)*, Patrick Hough (Ireland)*, Christian Jankowski (Germany), Krištof Kintera (Czech Republic), Emiliano Maggi (Italy)*, Cinthia Marcelle (Brazil), Rä di Martino (Italy)*, Astrid Menze (Germany)*, Raphael Montanez Ortiz (USA), Karthik Pandian (USA), Mona Vatanamu & Florin Tudor (Romania), Julijonas Urbonas (Lithuania)*

*Artist-in-Residence, Q21/MQ

Curator: Daria Khan (Russia)

Levitate is organized in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs. The exhibition architecture is again by the department for Stage and costume design, film and exhibition architecture at the University Mozarteum, Salzburg. Under the supervision of Professor Henrik Ahr, the display concept has been developed by the student Anna Zadra.

Director of the MuseumsQuartier Wien: Dr. Christian Strasser

Press, MQ: Mag. Irene Preissler
T +43 (0)1 523 5881 1712 / ipreissler [​at​] mqw.at

Artistic director, freiraum Q21 INTERNATIONAL:
Elisabeth Hajek
T [+43] (0)1 / 523 5881 1717 / ehajek [​at​] mqw.at

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frei_raum Q21 exhibition space/MuseumsQuartier Wien
September 17, 2015

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