10 02 06
Do you want to be protected?
Brener and Schurz at the "benevolent museum"
Schurz were invited to have their lecture already in the end of October 2005,
before their “MUMOK case”!
But, after the “Mumok case” this coincidence
became important, as it was obvious that it is a necessity in the student circles and in the art and cultural “life”
of Vienna to
discuss about the event. After their lecture performance the numerous public
profoundly questioned the status of contemporary art and tried to answer what
to do in contemporary art today, if we are to develop forms and thoughts in art
that are socially and politically pertinent.
Schurz present themselves as visionaries, iconoclasts and vagabonds in constant
troubles. They try to evade documentation and archivization. They do not
believe in art history and His-story in general. Consequently they do not
accept the idea of curriculum vitae etc. At the core of the Brener
and Schurz project are not physical attacks, but a performative action to
establish a critic and draw a line of separation in what they call normalization
of the cultural field in contemporary art. Normalization for them means that
art and culture are through art institutions, museums and galleries, art
markets, criticism etc., becoming the most oppressive fields in contemporary societies.
Art creativity is today caught only and solely in mechanisms of empty rituals,
hierarchy and abstraction, all tightly ruled by power and capital.
We have to reflect Brener and Schurz actions and their performative histories in the only possible way: that is strictly political. The moment we are tempted to criminalize a work of art as it was the case also with Critical Art Ensemble, the American artistic group that was accused by the USA authorities a year ago of being bio terrorists, this can be seen as the beginning of the end of contemporary art today.
performance actions it is possible to tackle the level of functioning of the
Institution of Contemporary Art that means it is possible to question the
position of contemporary museums and galleries today. Let us take a detour in order to try to
explain this statement. In the 1970s, Harald Szeemann
insisted and formulated the idea of the open museum; attempts were made to make
social contradictions visible in the museum, and consequently to free art from being
sentenced to the museum, by connecting it once more with the world outside. The
formula phrase was: Art must awake, museums are prisons! In the 1980s, Harald Szeemann stated: The museum is a house for
art! and moreover… art is fragile, an alternative to everything in our society
that is geared to consumption and reproduction… that is why art needs to be
protected, and the museum is the proper place for this. The museum is not what
it seemed to be – the museum is therefore not a prison! In the 1990s, and in
the beginning of the millennium, the catchphrase is: Does modern art need
museums anymore? – Rhetorically announcing the potential death of the obscene
paternal figure – the museum – in art.
This is why the figure of the castrated father is the figure of an excessively exuberant father, similarly to the figure of museums of our present. Museums are so empowered on the surface, with exuberant, excessive architecture, that it is almost not necessary to go inside the museum; it is enough to see it from the outside!
What we get in the end are strangely
derealised museums, blind museum mechanisms that act immediately, with
no delay! For example the museum is asking security guards at the museum’s door
to take care of the safety of the visitors of the museum with preventing those
who produce “troubles” to enter it!
were also able to see the most exact depiction of authority that we rarely have
the chance to see so transparently. The Manifesta 2000 press conference was
“exploding,” but not the authority ritual. They – the Manifesta core organizers
– continued the press conference immediately after Brener was removed, without
a single word of reference to what happened. Here, as Slavoj Žižek would say,
it is possible to see how difficult it is to effectively interrupt the ritual
of authority that sustains the appearance. Even after the embarrassing
situation, the press conference continued as if nothing, absolutely nothing,
had happened, and similarly the symbolic ritual in itself persisted. It is
therefore no surprise that at the end, it was all concluded with a party and a
huge amount of food; this conclusion was what the organizers pretended
Manifesta to be, a common celebratory toast and festivity.
This text was published in German in the February 2006 edition of the Viennese magazine Malmoe and it is an intro in the edited debate artists Alexander Brener and Barbara Schurz had in Vienna on 16, November 2005. The debate followed their lecture-performance that took place at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna at the Class for Post-Conceptual Art Practices/Prof. Dr. Marina Gržinić. The debate was transcribed, edited and translated by Henning Schorn and Eva Egermann, students of the Class.
 Before their lecture in the Class for Post-Conceptual Art Practices Brener and Schurz had an appearance at MUMOK, Museum of Modern Art in Vienna. At MUMOK their questioning (and behaving) after a public lecture there resulted in what was described as a “physical attack” on the speaker and on those who sided with it. This naming of what was going on there is at the core of the case as well. Every word has to be weighted in the description of the event. Because, it was reported as well that the next day bodyguards were at the MUMOK’s entrance in order to protect the public with preventing Brener and Schurz to enter a public institution!