press release

freiraum quartier21 INTERNATIONAL/MuseumsQuartier
Museumsplatz 1
1070 Vienna

Examining the forgeline between art and politics, using the United Nations as an example. Showcasing critical statements by contemporary artists, combined with poetic and documentary works presenting a broad survey of artists' positions since the 1990s. An engagement with figurative and symbolic political acts compiled by curators Signe Theill and Peter Winkels at freiraum quartier21 INTERNATIONAL in the MuseumsQuartier Wien.

Policy issues that the artists address range from the Palestine Conflict, via the Iraq War, the genocide in Rwanda, the Bosnian Civil War, and the refugees' plight on the EU borders, to the connections between the personal and politics in a context of the UN. The earliest works stem from the 1990s, the most recent have been specially completed for the exhibition and are being shown for the first time.

Participating artists include The Center for Political Beauty (Germany), who provoked a scandal during last year's celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall; Goshka Macuga's (Poland) multifaceted installation The Nature of the Beast references the United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and his speech on the alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; Sophie Calle's (France) Prenez soin de vous (2004) has a far more intimate and personal background, featuring 107 women reading from her ex-boyfriend's email ending their relationship.

The United Nations' history is also the history of a special relationship with art. The organization has been collecting art, commissioning artists in the UN cities, and receiving artworks as diplomatic gifts from the outset. The UNO City in Vienna also contains a significant collection of Austrian artists' work donated in the early 1970s by the Republic of Austria. On the 60th anniversary of Austria's membership of the United Nations, artists such as Jan Stradtmann (Germany), Maurice de Martin (Germany), and Janina Janke (Germany) present research conducted at the Vienna International Center. Photographs by Stradtmann show the cool elegance of the building's interior, while UN.KNOWN SPACES by artist duo Janke/de Martin focuses on the people working at the United Nations in interviews, videos, and documentation compiled in Vienna, Nairobi and New York.

Berlin-based Alfred Banze (Germany) toured the world with a copy of the first artwork completed for the United Nations, a mural by Per Krohg. Videos shot during this international workshop lend a hearing to a range of voices, both with contemporary interpretations of the mural as well as on the organization's vision.

New works specially created for the exhibition by the quartier21/MQ Artists-in-Residence include a temporary office by Sibylle Hofter (Germany) for her exceptional "Schwimmer" photo agency, and new photos and videos produced in Vienna by Guy Wouete (Cameroon).

The supplementary program provides an insight into the art that surrounds the United Nations: From the first gift for the Security Council Chamber, to an introduction to the International Academy of Art Palestine, lectures, screenings and artists' discussions promoting a transdisciplinary dialogue.

Artists: Marina Abramović (Serbia/USA), Abbas Akhavan (Canada), Alfred Banze (Germany), Vitshois M. Bondo (Democratic Republic of Congo), Sophie Calle (France), Sibylle Hofter (Germany), Alfredo Jaar (USA), Janina Janke (Germany)/Maurice de Martin (Germany), Khaled Jarrar (Palestine), Sven Kalden (Germany), Thomas Locher (Germany), Goshka Macuga (Poland), Josef Ramaseder (Austria), Kofi Setorji (Ghana), Ivar Smedstad (Norway), Jan Stradtmann (Germany), Tanya von Barnau Sythoff (Netherlands), Guy Wouete (Cameroon), Zentrum für politische Schönheit (Germany) * quartier21/MQ Artist-in-Residence

united nations extended — The Vienna Dialog is organized in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs.

Director of the MuseumsQuartier Wien: Dr. Christian Strasser

Artistic director, freiraum quartier21 INTERNATIONAL: Elisabeth Hajek