Peter Weibel

Peter Weibel

Belvedere 21

Peter Weibel, Mechanics of the Organisms – Organics of the Machines, 1994. Installation, exhibition view Car Culture. Media of Mobility, ZKM | Center of Art and Media Technology. © Peter Weibel. Photo: Anatole Serexhe.

October 13, 2014

Peter Weibel
Media Rebel
Warning! This exposition can change your life.

17 October 2014–18 January 2015

21er Haus
Arsenalstraße 1
1030 Vienna
Hours: Wednesday–Thursday 11am–9pm,
Friday–Sunday 11am–6pm
Open on public holidays

The media artist, actor, art theorist, and museum director Peter Weibel, one of Austria’s “rebels” in the 1960s and 1970s, was awarded the Oskar Kokoschka Prize 2014 for his life’s work this year. His extraordinary art is characterized by particular themes and problem zones, such as mechanisms of perception and thinking, the “apparatus world” as a world unto itself, the crisis of representation, the picture and the museum, the relationship between art, politics, and the economy, and the conditions governing the art world. The exhibition at the 21er Haus communicates the various chapters in Weibel’s art to the viewer, rather like an Orbis Sensualium Pictus. 

The 1960s in Vienna
The rejection of sociopolitical conservatism with its traditional gender and class roles manifested itself in radical upheavals in the arts in the late 1960s. Unconventional thinkers started to break up and merge the hitherto strictly separate genres of art and architecture. The human body became a key medium and motif for performative and space-related forms of art that critically questioned the relationship between the individual and his or her environment or tried to redefine this in a visionary way. 

It was in this milieu, and in the wake of the Vienna Group and Viennese Actionism, that a young art and architecture scene emerged whose protagonists, in view of the innovations in society, science, and technology, advocated experimental and alternative ways of life and forms of art. Peter Weibel, who was born in Odessa, was one of the most active figures in this scene. These artists no longer hid behind their works but appeared as part of the overall concept that did not distinguish between actors and recipients. Weibel, artist, curator, and art theorist, who has been Director of the ZKM Center for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe since 1999, was a rebel of a specifically Austrian sort during the 1960s and 1970s. For these rebels’ attacks on the government were combined with a touch of the absurd and a distinctly Viennese mix of applied psychoanalysis and “Central Cemetery” melancholy.

The display at the 21er Haus
The exhibition design responds to the transparent structure of the building and its raw character. Installations requiring darkness, such as Music of Anomaly—Voice of Humanity (1982), are to be presented to the public in sea containers, while objects, such as the Wheel of Reality (1988), the highly political Austria Room (1982), and the Mechanics of Organisms (1994) are shown in the light-flooded open space. In Music Exhibition, the Belvedere is recreating an installation Weibel devised in 1975, in which he reacts to the music appropriated by the Nazis and their atrocities. The fundamental constant of the exhibition is a metal system of shelves, based around the geometry of the containers. It is to be seen as an open encyclopedia about the artist that can be expanded at any time and in any way. Photographs, documents, objects, multimedia works, writings, apparatus, and films—many films—convey Peter Weibel’s artistic intentions to the recipient. From whatever side the viewer approaches the display, from whatever spot he starts to explore the artist’s interdisciplinary work, he will, despite this widely spreading network, never lose the thread of the Orbis Sensualium Pictus, which so characterizes Peter Weibel’s work.
—Alfred Weidinger, exposition organizer

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Belvedere 21
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