Upon Arrival. Spatial Explorations
SABINE BITTER/ HELMUT WEBER, MICHAEL GUMHOLD, NIKOLA HANSALIK, VERONIKA HAUER, ANDREAS HELLER, NICOLE SIX/ PAUL PETRITSCH, GERALD STRAUB
Curated by Margit Neuhold
11 February → 14 March 2010
Malta Contemporary Art, Valletta
How do different modes of spatial production relate to one another? This question is at the core of the exhibition “Upon Arrival. Spatial Explorations”, presenting seven artistic positions that investigate unknown territorial and social geographies. The show’s dichotomous title proposes that an arrival in unknown territory is followed by spatial explorations. The different roles we may perform in that context—such as those of traveler, explorer, worker or artist—, combined with a certain desire or purpose, determine our navigation through different spaces. The spatial situations or conditions we encounter—which tend to differ from our conceptual anticipations—require performative responses in order to undo our oblivion of foreign geographies, their linguistic, cultural, political, or economic concatenation. “Upon Arrival” investigates spatial micro-perspectives by means of very concrete examples of physical spatial structures or social interactions.
The age of hypermobility manifests itself in the prevalence of a steady stream of information accompanied by a translocal dissemination of communication, the consolidation of space through speed, or the conquest of distances. However, this phenomenon of global delocalization is at the same time linked to the rediscovery of the local and its tradition. Branding strategies of mega-events, festivalisation or touristification driven by urban and national competitions uncover current policies of situatedness to manufacture identities. They, moreover, aim at creating references to specific places. Such a circuit’s underlying mechanism—as inherent to globalization—cannot be understood as a binary opposition since its various determining conditions are generated simultaneously. However, this area of tension is the framework for concrete artistic investigation on sites which concurrently question the notion of ‘the site for artistic production’.
“Upon Arrival” will approach such themes from two different points of view: on the one hand, the show raises the question of how cultural, economical and political parameters are inscribed in the design of space or architecture. On the other hand, it accentuates the human being in his/her physical presence, immanent, e.g., in language and gesture as well as in approaches towards expectations and impossibilities. To work through such a tangle of notions entails questioning artists’ positions as well as artistic production as a critical practice in a global world.
At this point in time, with the idea of the nation state is eroding and giving way to a globally networked world tangible in Malta’s artistic arena, this show negotiates methods and means of exploring unbeknown geographies, their relation to the notions of local as well as global while at the same time actively echoing our being in the world.
Exhibiting seven Austrian artistic positions, “Upon Arrival” is curated by Margit Neuhold and accompanied by a publication featuring texts by Jeff Derksen, Franziska Hederer, Margit Neuhold, Walter Seidl, Gerald Straub and Ulrich Tragatschnig and published in collaboration with the Center for Intermediality Studies (CIMIG) at the Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz/Austria.