One place that was played for the first time is a former call center in Mariatrost. The vacant building, from which phone calls used to be made from an open-plan office, underwent a transformation into “Demon Radio”. A place where the demonic can be found in many ways.
The Four from the Gas Station
Already at the parking lot, in front of the exhibition location, an irritating installation awaits the audience: “The Four from the Gas Station” by Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys. The work was given its title in reference to the 1930 film “Die Drei von der Tankstelle” (“The Three from the Gas Station”), which was placed on the list of banned films by the Nazi censors. In the car there are not three people, but four uniformed Dobermans. Dogs, sharply trained, like to appear around people who need special “protection”. The number plate of the old Mercedes can be deciphered, since it bears the date on which Hitler thrilled the crowds in Klagenfurt in 1938. The two artists, who live in Brussels, leave it open in this installation whether the four occupants are chasing someone or whether they are on the run. Thus, the artwork opens different windows of interpretation – an approach that is significant for the exhibition “Demon Radio”. The work corresponds with those in the interior – primarily with the one about the former German jazz expert Dr. Schulz-Köhn.
A second artistic contribution of the duo inside the exhibition hall also bears animal features. Micro Mundo 3, 4, 5, 8 and 10, created this year, are small, surreal terrariums in which rodents, reptiles and other creatures with human heads cavort. Fascinating and repulsive at the same time, they present themselves to the viewer and pose ad hoc the question of genetic manipulation and mutations that man did not intend in this way.
A jazz collector, SA and Nazi member
The German, Dietrich Schulz-Köhn, was a lover and connoisseur of jazz music. He bequeathed to the Institute for Jazz Research in Graz, of which he was one of the founders, his collection of jazz records that he had collected before, during and after World War 2. Himself a member of the SA and the NSDAP, he was stationed in France as a young man during the war, where his good contacts with the American enemy enabled him to get hold of the new releases he was so interested in as quickly as possible. Not only are some of his records on display in the exhibition, but a radio recording can also be heard. As the presenter of many jazz programs on WDR and other radio stations, he created a series of programs on this subject. In that contribution, which can be heard in the exhibition, one can well understand how, after the war, a kind of dislocation must have taken place in Schulz-Köhn’s own actions during the war. After all, he speaks there about the restrictions during the Nazi regime as if he had never been part of this murderous regime, but rather had been commissioned by a broadcaster outside Germany to speak about this topic.
Contextualizing this with the other contributions still in this exhibition, it becomes clear that the demonic in man is a phenomenon that is evaluated differently depending on time.
Serene Velocity in Practice: MC510 Signs & Wonders (Prerequisite for CS183 How to Build the Future) (2017-23)
Across from the small room where the radio show is playing, Michael Stevenson, bounded by fabric panels, created a kind of room within a room. In it, he recreated the setting of a practical course on faith healing and exorcism taught by church founder John Wimber at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena from 1982 to 1985. The artistic alienation done there further intensifies the oppressive impression that one is in a surroundig in which psychic violence has been inflicted on people.
Indian freedom fighter and current nationalisms
A total of four video contributions invite us to confront the demonic in completely different ways. Indian theater-maker Zuleikha Chaudhari created a film about Subhas Chandra Bose, a fighter against British colonial power. He had hoped to gain Hitler’s support in the 1930s and had therefore traveled to Berlin. On this trip, as well as others that were to follow afterwards when he left Germany again without having achieved anything, he assumed different identities with different nationalities. Similar to Schulz-Köhn, one is amazed at how much reality and ideal diverge in certain stages of life, sometimes even turning into the opposite. In addition, the artist also mixes in the video recordings of lectures on nationalism given at teach-ins during the 2016 student movement at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
Mechanical and profoundly human
Israelite artist Dani Gal was commissioned by Styrian Autumn to create two works. In his film “Book of the Machines,” close-ups of 19th-century mechanical dolls that bear human features and behave like humans are used to pose questions that are congruent with those our society is currently having to ask itself in light of ubiquitous AI applications.
Book of the Machines, courtesy of the artist
Extremely moving has become his film “Dark Continent,” which reenacts a case study from the book Black Skin, White Masks (1952) by psychiatrist and anti-colonial author Frantz Fanon: It’s about a girl who began developing nervous tics at the age of 12. She eventually ended up in a mental hospital, where the head primar quoted Freud in his final diagnosis, saying that women’s sexuality is a black continent. During the film, we learn that soon after colonization, bus drums were banned in Africa, simply because they could be used to transmit messages over long distances, and thus the danger of revolts could not be ruled out. The father of the young girl, himself formerly conscripted in Africa, put on music in the evening in which these drums could be heard. An unambiguous imagery, which suggests a cruel trait of the man and the fantasy, which one develops as a viewer himself, let think at the end of the film of a child abuse within the own family. The perfidious way in which the drumming of the black population, which is portrayed as backward and threatening, is shown leaves one speechless.
In the coupling with the expressions with which Schulz-Köhn mentioned the black jazzmen from America in the Nazi dictum, a bridging between the individual artistic contributions succeeds here as well. The curatorial team around Ekaterina Degot – David Riff, Pieternel Vermoortel, Gábor Thury and Barbara Seyerl – did a great job here.
Anna Engelhardt and Mark Cinkevic trailer, courtesy of the artists:inside
With a video by Anna Engelhardt and Mark Cinkevic (Russia and Belarus), in which they refer to the demonic power of Russian high-tech support points in occupied states, the arc of the exhibition’s theme reaches into our present.
So does a sound installation by Anton Kats, in which he recalls his childhood and the war in Kherson, recorded by a quiet female voice (Susanne Sachsse) on the sound layer “Palladium” by Weather Reports. That influential jazz band founded by Austrian Joe Zawinul. Palladium had cult status in the USSR, of all places. Fine and beautiful to listen to, flowing and harmonious, the music deceives and covers the horror that was added to it in the text.
What from the outside colorfully flags, pretends to be a fun scene, is inside full of dark spots worth uncovering.
Admission to the exhibition is free thanks to a generous sponsorship offer from AK-Steiermark.
Dieser Artikel ist auch verfügbar auf: German