Answers for Der Standard

Answers to a Viennese reporter's questions from the newspaper Der Standard

Hello Mr. Ortner,

I've Cced my co-curator, Julie McKim, who lives in New York.

Here are my responses:

1) At the moment we don't have any further locations planned for the exhibition.
In Berlin, to coincide with Art Forum Berlin in 2009, I curated an exhibition called Waking the Living http://www.danielkingery.com/curating/waking_the_living/ at the artist Stephen Neidich's studio. This lead to an invitation from Tape to curate an exhibition there. The exhibition in Tape was planned for just a few weeks after an exhibition I curated at Autocenter: http://www.danielkingery.com/curating/waking_the_dead/ and I was considering not doing it, until Stephen Neidich introduced me to Julie McKim and we decided to collaborate on the project, bringing in artists from New York as well as some Berlin-based artists that Julie knows as well.

Julie knew of the open call at Kunsthalle Exnergasse and suggested we apply. We were fortunate to chosen from among 300 applications, and of those to be selected to represent KEX during the 30th anniversary of WUK. This was my first exhibition in a larger institution outside of Berlin, and it was fitting because I lived in Vienna for a semester during my University studies, so for me it was a return to my very reason for being in Europe in the first place. Vienna has a very lively and active creative scene, and it was very interesting for both me and Julie to experience the art community there first hand. It is much smaller than either Berlin or New York, but we were both very impressed with the city and what's happening there.

2) The exhibition is not really about freedom and enjoying life, it's more about the roots of the creative impulse and its initial manifestations as a kind of naive, teenage Drang or a longing for some sort of existence without boundaries or constraints. This idea we learn later in life is perhaps unattainable, but art certainly offers the greatest possibilities for unbounded creativity, and perhaps the only definition of art now a days is as a realm in which you have the maximum amount of freedom to pursue your ideas apart from any utilitarian or moralistic justifications. Many of the artists in the exhibition reflect critically on the dark side of freedom and explore as well just how unfree we actually are, such as Annika Larsson's video Drunk, where losing control and attempting to transcend boundaries certainly takes a dark turn, or Christian Jankowski's guitar piece And Your Bird Can Sing where factory workers in China are "free" to chose a plastic CD radio in the shape of a guitar to play a guitar solo they performed on Jankowski's own electric guitar. This "freedom" is very constricted and actually only points to the worker's own role in industrial production.

There are clearly also restrictions depending on where/ when and with how much of a budget you put on an exhibition. This of course limits certain possibilities. One of the creative aspects of exhibition making, like with art making, is making the most of your situation in a way that will work with the space and bring out the best in the individual pieces and their relationship to each other. There is no "ideal" way to make an exhibition, there are always some kinds of limitations, just as in life in general. Complete freedom does not exist.

3) More on the series Ancestral Research here: http://www.danielkingery.com/work/works_on_paper/ancestral_research/

Each of the photographs I chose to paint over for the series Ancestral Research has an iconic role for me in my life as well as in general for American culture in as much as they each take on a role of an archetype in American history. The piece which uses my father's expired gun license clearly has the image of the 70s hippie or rebel like a character from Easy Rider, which in American history took many different paths, ending in some dark and paranoid ones such as the Manson family and the Unibomber or even the Hell's Angels. Other family portraits that I used recall the Hollywood actor, the starlet, the gangster, the athlete, the cat-eye glass wearing student, the soldier.

Painting over the face or the context surrounding the face is a way of exploring something that is highly personal yet has a place within a certain moment of time, something remote and that I have no direct access to. The context or background for the photo says often as much about the person as their face does and in the photograph they are intrinsically intertwined. By giving you only one part in each photograph, the viewer is forced to view each element separately and "complete" the photographic print, which can only be placed together in their mind. This represents for me the disconnect between the person and their role or the way the photograph was staged at that particular point in time. This is a conflict that will ultimately remain unresolved.

At the same time, the use of oil paint is unmistakably a mark made by my hand and creates texture and intimacy and adds perhaps as much as it removes, creating a kind of self-portrait through genealogy and American history.

4) I always have plans for future exhibitions, or rather, I have ideas for an unending stream of work. This work should hopefully be enough to fill an entire lifetime of art making.

On Oct 20, 2011, at 10:25 AM, Ortner Michael wrote:

Dear Mr. Kingery,

I have just a few questions about the ongoing exhibition „You are free“ in Vienna.

1)      The Exhibition was first installed at Tape Club, Berlin. Why did you choose Vienna and are there further Exhibitions planned  in other cities?
2)      It´s all about freedom and to enjoy life. But what about the restrictions of a gallery, like the amount of space and the location?
3)      How is the relationship to your family and the American culture in regard to your workAncestral Research (Kevin)?
4)      Do you have plans for future exhibitions?

Kind Regards,

Michael Ortner
Der Standard

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