Thomas Galler, Erich Weiss

4.6.-8.8.09

 

Erich Weiss and Thomas Galler are both experts in “appropriation art”. In their works finds are being composed to modular modules and appear as “ready-mades” or as individual fragments. Both artists have individually created a large oeuvre, but they sporadically have worked together and keep on doing so. The current exhibition is showing a collectively conceived video work. It is based on the song ‹Bela Lugosi is Dead› by the rock band ‹Bauhaus›, and is somehow paying its last respects to Bela Lugosi. Due to his Eastern European accent and his physical appearance, Lugosi was the actor for playing vampires in Hollywood. Unlike his professional success, his private life was shadowed by alcohol and drug abuse. The shown video work is based on this profound ambiguity; on the one hand being a ‹balladesque› music video clip –on the other hand rising socio-critical themes.

The works of Thomas Galler are skillfully oscillating between photographs taken by himself, ready-mades appropriation art and found footage and are constantly testing the reception of reality and fiction. He is always on an intensive search for exciting finds, which he lavishly works on and puts into a new context. He also combines detached individual items of different origins and media into new plausible combinations. The sound installation ‹MANIFESTO› plays a central role in the exhibition. The text ‹S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto› by Valerie Solanas is one of the most radical and hostile towards men scriptures of feminism in the 60ties of the last century. The very emotionally charged text is spoken by an impersonal computer voice (‹Alex› from the text-to speech program of Mac OSX). The original fierce character of the text is deformed by the monotonously arranged word order, and is pointing to the partially helpless debates about feminism in the 21st century. The works ‹Demonstrations›, ‹Manifestations & Riots› and ‹Ecstatic Fire› emerge from the artists picture acquisitiveness. Every day he combs through newspapers, magazines and the internet in search of interesting pictures, matching the selected topics. Whereas the first work, displayed in a vitrine, is showing numerous photos of demonstrations, the latter is a film animation with burning flags. They both make a strong political statement, however as all works from Thomas Galler they are very aesthetically designed.

The works of Erich Weiss always deal with stories, narrations or myth. He joins them together in an impressive manner and composes them to a new whole. He has analyzed books by Baudelaire or Murakami and has found new, surprising contexts. The integration of ‹Found Footage› material into his works is creating a conglomerate of reality and fiction. Like a dancer the artist is circling a topic; the sequence of steps being for one thing predictable, for another an unexpected surprise. He is always focusing on the same topics. The search for the ‹Femme fatal›, questions of transience and death, or ‹Beauty›. His latest works deliberately cite works of contemporary art and tempt the viewer with false bottom and various pitfalls. The bizarre double-bottomed collages clearly gear to Dadaistic and Surrealistic role models. The shown work on the floor remind one of Carl Andre or of the captions of Lawrence Weiner. ‹Blood Spilt for Nothing› is a textual work, written on the floor by means of glittering glimmer glue. On the one hand the work refers to spots of blood and destruction, on the other hand it stands in the field of tension between hyper aesthetics, design fashion or ‹splatter movie›. By meticulously spreading the material on the floor, the artist is virtuously showing the ambiguity of conceptual art and its substantial implementation.

Bernhard Bischoff, May 2009

Translation: Patsy Kornfeld