1.24.2020 | By Stefanie Jones
"In 2020 I will do more sport." "This year I will eat healthier." "This year I will do my taxes at the beginning of the year." – Does this sound familiar? Most of us make these and other resolutions at the beginning of a new year, but we do not always succeed in putting them into practice. We often reject our good intentions faster than we would like and only wishful thinking remains - a utopian thought.
What the rejected utopias can look like is illustrated by Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz in the exhibition A Mind of Winter in the Museum der Moderne Salzburg’s Rupertinum. With the installation Utopia Work Station, the artists collect wishful realities written by visitors that have literally ended up in the trash. Like the heart of their oeuvre - the Snow Globes - on which numerous groups of their works are based, Utopia Work Station is also a snow globe. However, this is not as small and handy as those that are displayed two rooms further, but larger than life and invites you to enter. We usually are only granted a view from the outside, but with Utopia Work Station we can relive how it feels to swap places with the figures from inside the snow globes.
Separated from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and in the safe cosmos of the snow globe, you can take a seat at the desk in the middle of the globe. There is an old typewriter and a stack of paper on the table waiting for you; the previous visitor also left his / her utopia for you to read on the sheet drawn in the typewriter. But since this does not have to correspond with your personal utopia, you are asked to take the piece of paper out of the typewriter, crumple it up and throw it in the trash next to you, which is already overflowing with discarded utopias. Then you put a blank sheet of paper in the typewriter and start typing - after all, you too want to share your utopian thoughts with your fellow human beings ...
The artists still wish that the thoughts should be positive, because there are far too many dystopias these days - as the works in the exhibition show. Martin and Muñoz design detailed winter scenarios in snow globes and dioramas, but at a second glance it becomes clear that the motifs are far from romantic scenarios: chained figures are enclosed in cold winter landscapes, children guide adults to the gallows, grandmothers are armed with machine guns, and at some point in between we no longer know who is human and who is animal. With Martin and Muñoz everything is possible. At the Rupertinum you will find numerous cultural references from visual arts, literature or science fiction films in the works of the artist couple. Can Not Tell The Keepers From The Kept, a boarded-up miniature door, is reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and at the same time of Stanley Kubrick's and Stephen King's Shining.
Martin and Muñoz's works can nevertheless become nostalgic, because the artist couple also criticizes technical progress: Utopia Work Station deliberately uses a typewriter and not a computer with a printer connection. If this writing instrument is a little challenging for the younger generation (How do I free the old sheet from the paper feed? And how do I feed the new one?), many adults associate it with the "good old days". That the new-fashioned inventions such as smartphones, Alexa and Co. catch up with us and meanwhile (also) represent real dangers becomes clear to us through the Blind House photo series on level 2. Martin and Muñoz took pictures of American suburban houses and subsequently removed all windows and doors, because these are no longer needed to observe and spy on people. With technological advances, we are literally all in the glass house - in a larger-than-life snow globe.
If you would like to take a memory of your experience with the Utopia Work Station back home with you, just visit our gift shop at the end of the exhibition tour. There you can purchase a copy of the Snow Globe Edition, created for the Museum der Moderne Salzburg by the Original Wiener Schneekugelmanufaktur, signed by the artist couple and showing the miniature version of the installation. Then you have not only taken a unique piece with you from your visit to the Rupertinum, but also put your New Year's resolution into action to exchange your parents' Christmas bonus into something very special.