Josef Dabernig

Josef Dabernig

mumok—Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien

Exhibition view, Josef Dabernig. Rock the Void, mumok, Vienna, 2014. © Bildrecht Wien 2014. © Photo: Wolfgang Thaler.

July 25, 2014

Josef Dabernig
Rock the Void

June 6–September 14, 2014

Museum moderner Kunst 
Stiftung Ludwig Wien 
Museumsplatz 1 
1070 Vienna

T +43 1 525 00 0 
info [​at​]

A love of order and minimalism, rationalistic obsession, and a drive toward planned structures all seem to determine the scenery chosen by artist and filmmaker Josef Dabernig for his retrospective exhibition Rock the Void. The ostentatious tidiness of this show is, however unsettled by various subtle irritations and anomalies. Systems-immanent entropy presented with a good deal of conceptual humor becomes itself the subject of the exhibition. 

For this show at mumok, the Austrian artist has designed an architecture which can be experienced as an artwork and a functional display at the same time. By means of this systematic structure the artist places the different elements of his work in relation to each other. These works include his early sculptures, conceptual lists and text works, mathematically structured aluminum grids, as well as photographs and films.

Each of the three museum galleries in which Dabernigs works are presented contains one of his aluminum grids, made between 1989 and 1996, using a montage system that derives from the construction of suspended facades in the building sector, and also exhibition showcases that are systematically placed in the gallery space. The various display forms used to present Dabernig’s ideas, photographs, and texts, are all arranged serially, and so they add a specific rhythm to the gallery spaces. 

The artist also presents series of cubes of differing shapes, which serve as projection and presentation spaces. In each gallery, three white cubes of different sizes are placed opposite three more white cubes of the same sizes. Inside these, Dabernig’s films are projected, and slide shows, lists, tickets, copied texts, or early sculptures are shown.

Although the whole arrangement suggests systematic clarity and logical order, this is deliberately countered. From gallery to gallery subtle shifts can be seen. These may confuse the visitor, making the promises of objectivity and rational order seem implausible. 

The orders of space, architecture, and social systems are recurring themes in Dabernig’s artistic works. With his white cubes in the white cube of the museum, he questions the spatial and ideological ordering systems of mumok itself. In a similar way, his aluminum grids also referred to the order of the buildings to which he attached them. 

Dabernig directly confronts the standard retrospective format with gaps, omissions, and empty moments. Taking into account the various times and contents in which his work in different genres was created, the artist takes viewers on a tour through the media of film, photo, text, object, and architecture. 

The exhibition showcases present Dabernig’s “control lists,” made up to the mid-1990s, which document a life with and in the system and the artist’s personal fetishes: cars and soccer. Since 1989 Dabernig has made photograph panoramas of soccer pitches on many of his travels—including fields in Cairo, Kraków, Prishtina, Gjumri, Vilnius, and Santiago de Chile. 

The cubes inserted into the exhibition galleries include nine of the thirteen films Dabernig has made since the 1990s. In these, the artist includes a good deal of conceptual humor. The films seem to show systematic and goal-oriented action, but this always becomes absurd. Carefully planned and conducted actions always seem to lead to nothing. This is a nothingness—a void—that Josef Dabernig again and again emphasizes and ultimately turns into its very opposite. 

Curators: Matthias Michalka and Susanne Neuburger

Reader/Catalog: Josef Dabernig. Rock the Void
Edited by Matthias Michalka and Susanne Neuburger/Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien 
Foreword by Karola Kraus 
Texts by Ekaterina Degot, Matthias Michalka, Susanne Neuburger, Georg Schöllhammer
Dimensions: 148 x 201 mm 
Volume: 224 pages 
Images: 16 colored illustrations 
Language: German-English 
ISBN: 978-3-902947-12-3 
Publisher: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König Köln 2014

Catalog raisonné/artist book: Josef Dabernig
Edited by Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien
Dimensions: 210 x 297 mm 
Volume: 256 pages 
Language: German 
ISBN: 978-3-902947-11-6 
Publisher: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König Köln 2014

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mumok—Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien
July 25, 2014

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