The Künstlerhaus KM–, Halle für Kunst & Medien is very pleased to present “ordinary freaks – The Principle of Coolness in Pop Culture, Theatre and Museum” in co-production with the steirische herbst festival. The exhibition takes up this year’s leitmotif of “I prefer not to ... share” and applies it to the individual genre fields of pop, theatre, and art with their boundaries that seem infinitely expandable. It takes these words literally in the sense of the coquettish attempt at “anti-crossover”, while also presenting a related experimental assembly.
When it comes to the unabated boom of pop-cultural references, the impression often prevails within the gamut of artistic genres that one must attempt to mirror and high-culturally embed the sentiments of nightlife, concerts, and the social milieus otherwise inaccessible to the broad public—the so-called “streets”—in especially “wild” art formats. The exhibition “ordinary freaks – The Principle of Coolness in Pop Culture, Theatre and Museum” cultivates and explores constructive doubts about such assumptions. In collaboration with the German theatre director Schorsch Kamerun, Künstlerhaus curator Christian Egger sets out to emphasise forms of artistic practice situated at junctions of the performative and Pop. Here, the exhibition format and the related stances of expectation are, in turn, illuminated through multifarious and topical questions. In the main Künstlerhaus KM– rooms, for example, the projection of an actor's reflection on the exhibition situation, documented even before the show was set up, accompanies the artworks collected there. With her acting she thus irritates all subsequent future exhibition visitors by heightening the stereotypical, socially determined emotional level felt by the visitors as recipients at the very moment of their perception. The actor exerts influence on the visitors’ experience of the show and strengthens self-perception and conception related to the way in which the audience moves through exhibitions of this kind.
The works presented in “ordinary freaks” pursue questions pertaining to how, where, and through which means Pop and life in general, art and the theatre world, can have mutual impact. The works bring these questions to the point of collision or coalescence, to the point of reciprocal support or obstruction, encouragement or constraint. Essential artistic elements supporting the extensive and multilayered quest for forms of the authentic between genres include: artistic investigations using black paint along the margins between verbal and visual spheres in the large-format works of artist and musician Kim Gordon; Eugene Doyen’s early filmic work “Quiet Lives” with young Tracey Emin and Billy Childish showing those in warped and exaggerated representation; sketches of the waiting audience drawn by painter Amelie von Wulffen prior to a concert by Die Goldenene Zitronen; the portrait-reflexive authenticity infiltrating pet-animal photography from the series “Scale” by Josephine Pryde; an early drawing gifted by Daniel Richter to curator Schorsch Kamerun and shown publicly for the first time; a handwritten “business card” by Joey Ramone transferred into a large-format painting by Stefan Sandner. Whether the principle of coolness cited in the exhibition subtitle loses some of its effect through the mantra of border-crossing or is rather imbued with strength to become sustainably indelible precisely because of such curatorial reductions can perhaps be assessed in the lower level of the Künstlerhaus. It is here that a club situation takes form—during and specially designed for “ordinary freaks – The Principle of Coolness in Pop Culture, Theatre and Museum”—through the erection of a stage. In a comprehensive programme accompanying and extending beyond the exhibition duration, for instance featuring readings and live concerts, the perils of musealisation related to such undertakings will be enacted and then disrupted again. This stage, whose layout was inspired by the logo of a British punk band, is being built as part of a workshop situation involving students from the Institute of Construction and Design Principles at Graz University of Technology. On the opening day, both the stage and the newly installed bar will be inaugurated with a performance by the American experimental and electronic musician Kevin Blechdom.