Behind the Fourth Wall, Fictitious Lives – Lived Fictions at Generali Foundation

Behind the Fourth Wall, Fictitious Lives – Lived Fictions at Generali Foundation

Generali Foundation

Michael Fliri
Give Doubt the Benefit of the Doubt, 2010
Performance, Make-up rehearsal*

May 18, 2010

Behind the Fourth Wall
Fictitious Lives – Lived Fictions

2 June – 15 August 2010

Opening: 1 June 2010, 7 p.m.
Wiedner Hauptstrasse 15
1040 Vienna, Austria
+43 1 504 98 80
foundation [​at​]
Opening hours:
Tue-Sun, bank holidays 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thu to 8 p.m.

With works by Harun Farocki, Omer Fast, Michael Fliri, Andrea Geyer,
Marcello Maloberti, Aernout Mik, Frédéric Moser & Philippe Schwinger,
Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Judy Radul, Allan Sekula, Ian Wallace

We are aware of the poetry and politics of fiction, the illusions and simulations of the real that shape our thinking and our desires. In spite of this, their power of attraction appears undiminished. According to Jean Baudrillard, the philosopher of simulation, reality has long since disappeared behind its double (what he calls “hyperreality”) and with it the possibility of distinguishing between “true” and “false,” “real” and “imaginary.” With the concept of the Fourth Wall, Denis Diderot devised a medium for eighteenth-century theater that counters the pull of fiction with reflexive distance. Diderot’s aim was to alter the audience’s perceptions, using an ever-changing interplay of affect and distance to encourage those watching to think and interpret actively.

The exhibition focuses on the medium of the Fourth Wall, including versions such as Bertolt Brecht’s alienation effect and specific types of montage in the films of Jean-Luc Godard as examples of techniques for raising awareness of the fictional within the real. A range of media formats are used, from photographs, to slide shows and video installations, though live performance. With a wide range of approaches, the featured artists address the question of how reality can be conveyed in images, statements, and signs.

As, for example, when Judy Radul transfers the International Criminal Court from The Hague to the exhibition space, presenting a four-hour reenactment of several cases (including those against Slobodan Milošević and Liberian president Charles Taylor) in which attention is focused on the possibility of portraying and staging “truth.” The picture Aernout Mik gives us in Convergencies is no longer what Roland Barthes calls “a pure cut-out segment with clearly defined edges,” for its edges fray out into an indeterminacy of space and time. Like Harun Farocki’s Immersion, in which the impact of virtual worlds is tested, Mik’s film offers a critical view of the attractive force of media images that renders the world of fiction barely discernible from that of reality.

In the works by Andrea Geyer, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, and Omer Fast, language is used in various ways as a tool for rendering visible the real in the fictional. In No False Echoes Van Oldenborgh creates a many-layered landscape of language and image where a historical text by Indonesian freedom fighter Soewardi Soerjaningrat and debate surrounding the broadcasting policy of Dutch broadcaster Philips Omroep Holland Indië are dissolved in a polyphony of voices located somewhere between fiction and documentation. In Godville, Omer Fast interlinks two space-time levels (the 18th and the 21st century). Editing together interviews recorded at the Living History Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia, into a seamless narrative, the overlap between fact and fiction is used to lay bare the fault lines between (historical) events, memory, experience, and translation into media. In Allan Sekula’s Aerospace Folktales and Ian Wallace’s Poverty, looking behind the Fourth Wall becomes an inquiry into the nature of reality in the photographic image.

How can “truth” be experienced in the drama of gestures that only purport to be authentic?
Or, conversely, how does one gain access to the fictions that deceptively present themselves to us as reality?

The works featured here aim to present many-layered reality as something under construction. To this end, they examine micropolitical communities and transform social milieus into theatrical settings, dissecting their structures with the rhetoric of theater and cinema. Documentary, (auto)biographical, and fictional material form the basis for this critical inquiry into the current state of the world we live in.

Curator: Ilse Lafer

In the context of the exhibition Behind the Fourth Wall. Fictitious Lives – Lived Fictions, the Generali Foundation has invited two artists who have for years been devising hybrid settings for a range of performative productions: on May 20, Marcello Maloberti stages a performative installation and at the opening on June 1, Michael Fliri appears as the protagonist of his performance.

Marcello Maloberti
Die Schmetterlinge essen die Bananen

Performance May 20, 2010, 7.-9 p.m.

Michael Fliri
Give Doubt the Benefit of the Doubt
Performance June 1, 2010, 8 p.m.

Curator: Sabine Folie
Enquiries/Press office: Barbara Mahlknecht +43 1 504 98 80-71114,

Generali Foundation

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May 18, 2010

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