All: Manfred Willmann, Untitled, 1981-1989, from the series <i>"Das Land"</i> (The country), Cibachrome, Museum der Moderne Salzburg

Austria

Photography 1970-2000

What does Austria look like through the domestic camera's lens? Beginning in the 1970s, a growing number of Austrian photographers scrutinized their country, its cultural identities, social milieus, and traditions. They developed diverse photographic strategies, staged tableaus, and probed the medium itself, creating works that are regarded as characteristic of the period between 1970 and 2000. What emerges in the dialogue between the works of twenty-four selected artists is a distinctive introspective vision.

In the evolution of Austrian photography, the 1970s were a time of fresh beginnings and new directions. Emerging photographers struggled to define their own creative and methodological approaches, as senior artists and theoretical discourses offered only very limited guidance. The institutional infrastructure that would have allowed for a more complex artistic engagement was virtually nonexistent. This difficult situation did not begin to change until the 1980s. With a forensic eye, photographers document aspects of the vanishing of social and architectonic structures. Artists like Heinz Cibulka, Nikolaus Walter, and Manfred Willmann take pictures in their immediate environments, whereas Elfriede Mejchar and Johannes Faber approach their objects from a critical distance. Heimrad Bäcker and Helmut Kandl focus on the lingering legacy of National Socialism, while Günther Selichar and Gottfried Bechtold investigate the potentials of the medium itself. All works speak to an unflinching examination of the idea of the homeland - the German word, Heimat, has a fraught history and highly subjective connotations that still make it difficult to pin down. Adapting documentary strategies, the photographers devise a variety of techniques. Carefully conceived long-term projects yielding large ensembles exemplify the new inquisitiveness, as do studies of forms of photographic representation.

Works by Heimrad Bäcker, Gottfried Bechtold / Heinz Schmidt, Heinz Cibulka, Peter Dressler, VALIE EXPORT, Johannes Faber, Bernhard Fuchs, Seiichi Furuya, Robert F. Hammerstiel, Bodo Hell, Helmut Kandl, Leo Kandl, Friedl Kubelka, Branko Lenart, Elfriede Mejchar, Lisl Ponger, Gerhard Roth, Günther Selichar, Loredana Selichar, Michael Schuster / Norbert Brunner, Nikolaus Walter, Manfred Willmann

Organized in cooperation with the Albertina, Vienna, and the Federal Chancellery
A publication produced by the Albertina, Vienna, was released in conjunction with the exhibition

Guest Curator: Walter Moser, Curator, Albertina, Vienna
Curator: Christiane Kuhlmann, Curator Photography and Media Art; with Andrea Lehner-Hagwood, Curatorial Assistant, Museum der Moderne Salzburg


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