press release

Verena Dengler
Die Galeristin und der schöne Antikapitalist auf der Gothic G’stettn
(Corona Srezessionsession Dengvid-20 :) )

July 3–September 6, 2020

Verena Dengler makes art that is richly allusive, trenchant, and occasionally provocative. Astute observations of the art world with its mechanisms and historically contingent conditions as well as the artist’s own entanglements in it are often the subject of installations, objects, pictures, drawings, texts, videos (and a whole lot more) that offer reflections in which critique is leavened by humor and satire.

In the Secession’s gallery, the artist builds a “landscape” consisting of a pond—inspired by the Hirschstetten swimming hole on the outskirts of Vienna—and a surrounding overgrown urban wasteland or “Gstettn.” An emblem of an anarchic counterculture, the ensemble serves as the setting for other works and elements including a life-size bronze figure, a grand piano, and a mockup of an art-fair booth.

The early days of the Secession with its lavishly flower-bedecked sales exhibitions was one point of reference as the artist drew up the plans for her show, developed in dialogue with the historian of religion Barbara Urbanic; so was her engagement with the “omnipresent Romantic legacy” (Urbanic). Characteristics attributed to Romanticism such as the emphasis on individuality and feeling and the quest for the sublime, but also its “dark flipside” of melancholy, social critique, and cultural pessimism: these form a—sometimes latent, sometimes manifest—ferment that is at work to this day in subcultural youth movements and countercultures, contemporary popular as well as classical music, and many other domains.

The aftereffects of Romanticism also inform social and political realities, including the leeway for individual configurations of life and work framed by social networks, the development of flexible labor relations—something that artists are only too familiar with—and the associated phenomena of relentless self-improvement. The works in the exhibition reflect the interplay between past and present, between hegemonic and repressed as well as subversive forces that undermine the powers that be. Expanding on the presentation, an artist’s publication in magazine format will contain contributions by Barbara Urbanic, Diedrich Diederichsen, Anna Gien, and Leon Kahane and extensive series of photographs.

Verena Dengler, born in Vienna in 1981, lives and works in Vienna.