Maria Anwander at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen
Isisuf is glad to announce Maria Anwander (*1980) from Vorarlberg. She knows how to kiss the walls of the most famous museums of the world so intensely that she not only leaves behind a work in the form of an illegal performance but, above all, questions the hierarchies in the art world. As a conceptual artist she dedicates the majority of her research towards so-called institutional critique whereby, besides art institutions and their roles, she is also interested in the whole art system, especially artists. Maria Anwander’s works are perplexing with their humour, precision and a certain mercilessness.
At her solo exhibition at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Maria Anwander is presenting a broad selection of works, some recently produced, in three different fields: on the one hand she is showing various appropriations which are based upon important works of recent art history – especially Concept Art and Appropriation Art itself – including Fountain after Sherrie Levine (2012). It refers to a 1991 work by American artist Sherrie Levine, a cast-bronze of the trail-blazing readymade by Marcel Duchamp from 1917. Anwander goes a step further by giving a urinal a title which leaves Duchamp, the creator of the work, out. Some of Anwander’s appropriations contain a subtle feminist reference to the reception of art by women, for example her new work Leap into the Void (2014), for which she reconstructed the eponymous, world-famous, Yves Klein performance in a state of advanced pregnancy.
Anwander’s interventions in museums make up another group of works presented at the Kunst Halle. For example, the video The Kiss (MoMA), which documents how the artist kisses a wall at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and then, without permission, fixes a label describing the work and declaring her kiss to be a gift to the museum collection. Other examples are My Most Favourite Art – a collection of museum labels of the artist’s favourite works which she purloined from museums – or the video The Contribution (LACMA), in which Anwander can be seen adding her name to a list of prominent museum patrons hanging in the entrance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Maria Anwander does not only challenge the institution and its conventions but also the imagination of the public. At Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen one of the three exhibition halls will thus remain closed with a notice saying that this is because the artworks may not always be in accordance with the ethical ideas of the public. As exhibition visitors we are repeatedly confronted with similar warning notices and they make clear that certain works are judged to be too provocative or too close to the borders of illegality for the institutions of the art world. However, because of the warning the work is robbed of any power in advance and its exhibiting is thereby actually rendered obsolete. Anwander also directly intervenes in the everyday work of the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen: the office will be transferred to one of the exhibition halls where the team will go about its daily work for the whole duration of the exhibition. On the one hand the artist is thereby showing the work that lies behind the organisation of exhibitions and on the other she is challenging the Kunst Halle staff to question themselves and their roles in the machinery of art.
Maria Anwander. In a Certain State of Uncertainty
Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, St. Gallen
July 26 – October 5, 2014