UNTIL APRIL 23, 2017, THE 21ER HAUS WILL PRESENT CENTRAL WORKS BY THE AUSTRIAN ARTIST FRANZ WEST (1947–2012) IN AN EXHIBITION ENTITLED FRANZ WEST – ARTISTCLUB. THE WORKS ON VIEW WERE MADE BY 36 DIFFERENT ARTISTS IN COLLABORATION WITH FRANZ WEST. THE SO-CALLED ARTISTCLUB BEGAN AS A PARTICIPATORY PROJECT STARTED BY WEST IN 1999.
Even though it did not achieve its desired form while the artist was alive, here it can be experienced as a curatorial idea. Viewer participation and the collaboration with other artists play a central role in West’s artistic practice. He continually challenged the relationship between the artist, the artistic work, and the recipient in a radical way. The exhibition aims to reflect West’s concepts of art as a participatory act, the inclusion of various artistic positions via the process of collaboration, and the associated idea of authorship.
His work concept was defined by structures that were transformable, perceptual, and relational.
Born in Vienna in 1947, Franz West discovered his passion for the art world early on in his youth. He gained insight into international art movements and maintained constant contact with Vienna’s intellectual scene. His intensive pursuit of and reflection upon philosophical writings throughout his life had a crucial impact on his artistic work. Spontaneous and self-educated, West started his artistic production in 1970. His initial works, small and on paper, were followed by his first so-called Adaptives (Passstücke), that emerged in the 1970s.
These functioned as sculptural extensions of the human body that turned the viewer into an integral part of each artwork. West’s prominent pieces of seating furniture and his large-scale outdoor sculptures were based on his principle of participation. His work concept was defined by structures that were transformable, perceptual, and relational. As opposed to works conceived of as fully independent, his work avoided formulating any definite answers. West’s sculptures and installations always offer the visitor the opportunity to engage in a dialogue, and are read on both a physical and an intellectual level. Beginning with his Adaptives (Passstücke), West’s open work concept is played out in his modification of the meaning of authority. Through co-authorship and collaboration as well as through the re-launching of works from various creative phases and involvement by other artists, West introduced a subversive and often humorous form of play with the way authorship is attributed to artworks. This 21er Haus exhibition aims to display and investigate the different scenarios by which this play manifested itself. With this in mind, it is important to note another significant work by West, named Extroversion, that was conceived for the 2011 Biennale di Venezia.
In this work, West practically turned the walls of his studio kitchen inside out. Made by friends, colleagues, and co-workers, it involves 43 different artistic works that similarly upend themselves. While retaining their autonomy, they also come together to form a larger, more complex work of art. In addition to the typical conceptual displacement between work and the author, Extroversion also introduces a new and exciting aspect of West’s experience and treatment of space and architecture. The work itself, therefore, forms the starting point for an additional focus of the exhibition, one that concretely explores his approach toward space and architecture.
The exhibition shows Franz West together with Bizhan Bassiri, Elisabetta Benassi, Songül Boyraz, Jean-Marc Bustamante, Plamen Dejanoff & Svetlana Heger, Mathis Esterhazy, Marina Faust, Marco Fedele di Catrano, Urs Fischer, Herbert Flois, Gelitin, Douglas Gordon, Heiri Häfliger, Richard Hoeck, Peter Höll, Franz Kapfer, Mike Kelley, Leopold Kessler, Roland Kollnitz, Anita Leisz, Sarah Lucas, Otto Muehl, Albert Oehlen, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Rudolf Polanszky, Andreas Reiter Raabe, Anselm Reyle, Tamuna Sirbiladze, Josh Smith, Johann Szenizcei, Octavian Trauttmansdorff, Zlatan Vukosavljevic, Hans Weigand, Erwin Wurm, Heimo Zobernig.