Exhibition: ‘open spaces | secret places: composite works from the collection’ at Museum Der Moderne Salzburg

Exhibition dates: 20th October 2012 – 3rd March 2013


Many thankx to the Museum Der Moderne Salzburg for allowing me to publish the text and photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



Janet Cardiff / George Bures Miller. 'Road Trip' 2004


Janet Cardiff / George Bures Miller
Road Trip
Dia-und Audioinstallation
Fotos: Anton Bures, Ton: Janet Cardiff und George Bures Miller
15 Minuten / Loop
© Janet Cardiff/George Bures Miller / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy the artists, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin


Anthony McCall. 'Line Describing a Cone' 1973


Anthony McCall (British, b. 1946)
Line Describing a Cone
16-mm-Film, s/w, ohne Ton; Installation
30 Minuten
© Anthony McCall / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery, Paris/London
Foto: Hank Graber, © Whitney Museum of American Art, New York



In the exhibition open spaces | secret places, the MUSEUM DER MODERNE SALZBURG is showing artistic positions from 1970 until today from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND. The phenomenons of the perception of spaces and places will be visualised. The first part of the exhibition is dedicated to the medium of photography. Jeff Wall stages mysterious fragments of urban environments in peripheral area. Joachim Koester, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Tom Burr, Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler and David Wojnarowicz explore the fragility of the present in the light of historical changes of space and time. Louise Lawler draws our attention to places where works of art are stored and presented. Janet Cardiff / George Bures Miller stage a journey through memories as an audiovisual space of experience…

The increasing spatialization of art goes hand in hand with our life style, which has changed considerably in social and cultural terms as a result of new spatial conditions (virtual space, increased mobility). It is this fluctuating presence which seems to make us more acutely aware of our location. In the past we asked other people on the telephone “How are you?”, today we ask “Where are you?

All text from the Museum Der Moderne Salzburg website (including below)


Jeff Wall. 'The Crooked Path' 1991


Jeff Wall (American, b. 1946)
The Crooked Path
Grossbilddia in Leuchtkasten
Courtesy Jeff Wall Studio, Vancouver and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris



Jeff Wall

Boys Cutting Through a Hedge, 2003
The Crooked Path, 1991
Forest, 2001


For more than thirty years now, Jeff Wall has been best known for his large-format light boxes in which the colours of his giant transparencies are brilliantly illuminated. In the first few decades of his career, he was celebrated as a peintre de la vie moderne [the painter of modern life] – to use Charles Baudelaire’s term – on account of his ability to combine traditional composition with themes of modern life. For the past decade, however, he has produced a number of large format black-and-white photographs that clearly belong in the context of his affinity for traditional documentary photography or straight photography. The group of three photographs in the SAMMLUNG VERBUND shows peripheral, unimportant places, underscoring Wall’s interest in the “unofficial use of places” (Jeff Wall). In Forest two people are claiming a makeshift private territory in a forest. The Crooked Path and Boys Cutting Through a Hedge, meanwhile, show places in which people have to find their way on the other side of conventional topography.


Joachim Koester. 'The Kant Walks' 2003-2004


Joachim Koester (Danish, b. 1962)
The Kant Walks
Aus der 7-teiligen Serie
47.5 x 60.3cm
© Joachim Koester / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Jan Mot, Brussels



Joachim Koester

The Kant Walks, 2003-2004
histories, 2003-2005


Historically and philosophically charged places form the prime themes in the photographical work of Danish artist Joachim Koester. The series The Kant Walks follows the great philosopher’s daily and precisely scheduled walks through his hometown Kaliningrad (formerly known as Königsberg), which Kant allegedly never left throughout his life. Drifting through Kaliningrad’s “psychogeography” (Joachim Koester), the artist rediscovers Kant’s walks. His photographs evoke impressions, both from the past and the present, as they visualize overgrown roads, disintegrating concrete buildings, and presumably abandoned and forgotten places.

Likewise, Koester creates a link to the past in histories. Juxtaposing historic, not less than 30 year old photographs – taken by Gordon Matta-Clark or Bernd and Hilla Becher to name just a few – with recently taken shots from the very same location evokes not one, but two “histories”: that of conceptual photography, and that of the places and events depicted.


Bernd und Hilla Becher. 'Gasbehälter' 1965-2001


Bernd (German, 1931-2007) und Hilla Becher (German, 1934-2015)



Bernd and Hilla Becher

Entwürfe für Typologien, aufgenommen in den 1960er-Jahren, zusammengestellt 1970-1971
Gasbehälter, 1965-2001


Within 20th century art only a few artists have been able to combine their enduring artistic concept with an outstanding history of reception of their own work. The German photographer couple Bernd and Hilla Becher has been working strictly with documentary photography since the 1950s, and thus influences publications, exhibitions and art collections worldwide up to this day and even beyond the death of Bernd Becher in 2007, providing crucial impulses for the theory and history of art.

Ever since they started working together, Bernd and Hilla Becher were creating an inventory of industrial architecture, both in Europe and in the United States. Their black-and-white photographs depict furnaces, water towers, winding towers, factory buildings, cement and lime plants, entire mining sites as well as timbered houses. A sense of objectivity is innate to their approach to documentary photography. Bernd and Hilla Becher avoided any dramatic setting and confidently relied on the formal aesthetics of analog photography. Through strictly standardising the photographic process, the couple created the possibility to categorise their entire work in typologies, adding a whole new and important conceptual level to their oeuvre.


Tom Burr. 'Split' 2005


Tom Burr (American, b. 1963)
Lackiertes Sperrholz, Zedernschindeln, Asphaltschindeln
285 x 248 x 157cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie NEU, Berlin



Tom Burr

Split, 2005
Unearthing the Public Restroom, 1994


Tom Burr addresses a long-obsolete phenomenon. In 2005, he presented a white wooden house cut in two halves, entitled Split, outside on a lawn. Burr’s house is a response to the multiple-seat outhouse from the premodern era. Despite (or perhaps because of) the cramped conditions, he sees in it the symbol of “a lost type of intimacy”, repressed by our western societies from their collective consciousness “in favour of cool, smooth, and clean porcelain surfaces.” Considering Burr’s penchant for referencing selected avant-garde works, what comes to mind in relation to this work is Marcel Duchamp’s urinal Fountaine of 1917 and certainly Matta-Clark’s bisected Splitting house, also shown in the exhibition, as well as Minimal Art. Burr stages Split with aesthetic minimalism – cool, austere, and sober. At the same time, however, he unfolds a strange associative field of uncomfortable conditions: of closeness and intimacy, shame, smell, at times even disgust. The earth toilet was common from ancient times up until the 19th century. Installing a version of it in public space today is intended to have the function of an “alien”, a foreign element. Burr’s earlier photo series Unearthing the Public Restroom of 1994 traces experiences of public access, hygiene, privacy, sexuality, criminality, and surveillance that cluster around, and in fact produce, the history of the public restroom. Crime and sexuality, particularly homosexuality, caused many of these spaces to be shut down. What interests the artist is precisely this state of non-use, of abandonment, and the ghost-like presence.


Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler. 'Filmstills, Odeon' 2000


Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler
Filmstills, Odeon
Aus der 4-teiligen Serie
140 x 259cm
© Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler Studio, Austin, Texas



Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler

Filmstills, 2000
Arsenal, 2000


The photo work Filmstills, created in 2000, marks a crucial step in the oeuvre of Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler. Up to this work, the two Irish-Swiss artists were mainly known for their large-size photo series, such as Falling Down, Holes, or Gregor’s Room which were choreographed down to the smallest detail. Filmstills was the first work done outside the studio and on the spot. Filmstills show movie theatres in Berlin, which have been getting on in years. The Rio was closed some time ago and let go to ruin, whereas the Odeon still tries to maintain its hold against the flood of standardised movieplexes. Both shots are based on the same formal principle. A very narrow detail shows the respective main entrance with the cinema’s name written in big letters. The digital processing of the photographs as well as their sizes make the viewers perceive the cinemas as film stills or clips from a movie. In contrast to filmic illusion, here reality is fictionalised. The series Arsenal delivers melancholic interior views of the deserted premises of an abandoned independent cinema in Berlin, wherein only a female usher is still present.


David Wojnarowicz. 'Arthur Rimbaud in New York' 1978-1979 / 2004


David Wojnarowicz (American, 1954-1992)
Arthur Rimbaud in New York
1978-1979 / 2004
Aus der 44-teiligen Serie
32.8 x 24.5cm
© Estate of David Wojnarowicz / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy Estate of P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York and Cabinet Gallery, London


David Wojnarowicz. 'Arthur Rimbaud in New York' 1978-1979 / 2004


David Wojnarowicz (American, 1954-1992)
Arthur Rimbaud in New York
1978-1979 / 2004
Aus der 44-teiligen Serie
32.8 x 24.5 cm
© Estate of David Wojnarowicz / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy Estate of P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York and Cabinet Gallery, London



David Wojnarowicz

Arthur Rimbaud in New York, 1978-1979 / 2004


In the summer of 1979, David Wojnarowicz a twenty-four-year-old self-taught artist, borrowed a broken camera to produce a series of black-and-white photographs entitled Arthur Rimbaud in New York.

The Rimbaud series proposes hypothetical scenarios involving the French Symbolist outlaw poet as if he existed a century later, showing Brian Butterick, the friend and temporary lover of the artist, with a mask of Rimbaud. Arthur Rimbaud in New York tracks provocative “locations and movements.” Meatpacking district, subway, piers and Coney Island (off-season) further characterise a generally invisible marginalisation reinforced by abiding unsightliness, tawdriness, and rustication. Desolate Hudson river pier warehouses or anonymous Times Square’s red-light district allude to cavalcades of outsiders whether artists, thieves, queers, young runaways, sex workers, injection drug users, the poor, or homeless. The Rimbaud series would forge links between the artist’s engagement in his own social marginality to that of peers and prior heroes, each one demonstrating the transformative potential of creative response to existential crisis.


Louise Lawler. 'Not Yet Titled' 2004–2005


Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Not Yet Titled


Louise Lawler. 'CS #204' 1990


Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
CS #204
Cibachrom auf Polyester kaschiert
99.1 x 135.9cm
© Louise Lawler / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York



Louise Lawler

Not Yet Titled, 2004-2005
Abbau, 2002
Not Yet Titled, 2004-2005
CS # 204, 1990
It Could Be Black and White, 1994-1996
Wall Pillow, 2010/2012


Louise Lawler’s gaze is fixed not on a single, isolated work of art, but rather on the institutional environment in which that particular work is viewed; this, astonishingly, turns out to lend works a completely different meaning. It is the private, semi-public or public context of the gallery or the museum which constantly reshapes, redefines, and refigures a work of art. In principle, Lawler takes pictures of existing situations, in the sense that she does not rearrange the works or make any changes to their position relative to each other. She quite often adopts an off-stage stance to this end, enabling her to view an exhibition from an angle which would normally be closed to visitors.

Wall Pillow, for instance, reveals the verso of a painting, while Abbau shows the absence of art – the two nails and a spotlight shining on a bare wall are all that remains after the work itself has been removed. For what she has done is to sever the magic thread that connects the work per se to the aura it acquires through its hanging. What is evident from Not Yet Titled and CS #204, is that the artist is clearly attracted first and foremost by those works of art which she herself values highly, such as by Gordon Matta-Clark’s façades and Cindy Sherman’s self portraits. Lawler’s photographs focus on the other side of the coin of institutional art presentation. Yet for all her apparent deconstruction, one still has the feeling that she wants to “rescue” these works and in doing so restore their original dignity.


Ulla von Brandenburg. 'Around' 2005


Ulla von Brandenburg (German, b. 1974)
16-mm-Film transferiert auf Digibeta PAL, s/w, ohne Ton
2:30 Minuten / Loop
© Ulla von Brandenburg / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy the artist and Produzentengalerie, Hamburg



Ulla von Brandenburg

Around, 2005


The striking presence of female figures in Ulla von Brandenburg’s work suggests an interest in the conflicted role of nineteenth-century women and the continued complexity of the performance of gender roles and attitudes in contemporary society. Our uncertainty about the position of these women, who are frequently presented in a liminal state, and their potential vulnerability, align perfectly with von Brandenburg’s interest in shifting roles and meaning: Though commanding of attention, von Brandenburg’s female figures are often on the verge of hysteria or loss of control – a state of powerlessness that nevertheless enforces their centrality in the action taking place. The artist’s work Around, 2005 best embodies this state of deferral or ambiguity: von Brandenburg filmed a tightly packed group of figures standing in the middle of a street with their backs to the camera. As the camera travels around the group the figures shift their position so that no frontal aspect is ever revealed. A view of their faces is never revealed in this conspirative meeting. Around we go waiting for the glimpse that will reveal, well, what exactly? We are left standing in front of the projection watching this group of performers, each of us struggling to find the “right” position.


Eleanor Antin. '100 Boots' 1971-1973


Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935)
100 Boots
100 Boots in a Field, Route 101, California.
February 9, 1971, 3:30 p.m.
Aus der 51-teiligen Serie, S/W-Postkarte
11.4 x 17.7cm
© Eleanor Antin / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York


Eleanor Antin. '100 Boots' 1971-1973


Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935)
100 Boots
Aus der 51-teiligen Serie, S/W-Postkarte
Eleanor Antin / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York



Eleonor Antin

100 Boots, 1971-1973


For her 51-piece instalment 100 Boots Eleonor Antin positioned one hundred ordinary black rubber boots on various locations all over Southern California and consequently in New York City. She took photos, printed them on postcards and assembled a mailing list of about a thousand names – mainly artists, writers, critics, galleries, universities and museums – who received the various postcards over a period of two and a half years between 1971 and 1973. The first card, 100 Boots Facing the Sea, was mailed on the Ides of March, 1971, unannounced and without further comment. A few weeks later it was followed by 100 Boots on the Way to Church and three weeks thereafter by the next one.

In a total of 51 photographs, Eleanor Antin documented the travels of the 100 Boots, her so called “hero” – from a beach close to San Diego to a church, to a bank, to the supermarket, trespassing, under the bridge, to a saloon and on their travels eastward. Finally, on May 15th, 1973 100 Boots arrived at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. By this time, 100 Boots had long become an epic visual narrative and a picaresque work of conceptual art.


Ceal Floyer. 'On Air' 2009


Ceal Floyer (British, b. 1968)
On Air
Metallbox, Plexiglas, Licht, Kabel
12.6 x 25.6 x 6.2cm
© Ceal Floyer / SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Wien
Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin



Ceal Floyer

On Air, 2009
Me/You (Love Me Tender), 2009


The works of Ceal Floyer are minimalist and restrained. Some visitors will walk past them without even taking note of them. What the artist addresses everyday situations and activities. It is this apparent insignificance that Ceal Floyer refuses to accept, and so the conceptual strategy she pursues is interrogating our modes of perception. For her piece Me/You (Love Me Tender) from 2009, the artist installs two loudspeakers facing each other, from which the words “me” and “you” can be heard. Between them, the silence becomes palpable. The title can be read as the key to the work since it makes clear that what is heard is an excerpt from Elvis Presley’s song “Love Me Tender.” Ceal Floyer condenses love to its very essence here, namely, to the notions of “me” and “you.”

On Air (2009) is a work in which title and material are one and the same. The words “on” and “air” do not usher in the work, they are the work itself. Ceal Floyer uses the red neon letters used by radio and TV stations to signal that a live broadcast is going on and mounts them above the museum’s or gallery’s exit door. As soon as the viewer connects with the recording studio it becomes clear that this is about a shifting of our perception: We see five letters and realise that the real content of this work is what can be heard. All the sounds, voices and talks from outside the museum are put “on air” here, and the museum, the place where we have learnt to contemplate works of art in silence, pauses to listen to everyday life outside the walls of the institution.


Gordon Matta-Clark. 'Splitting (b)' 1974


Gordon Matta-Clark (American, 1943-1978)
Splitting (b)



Gordon Matta-Clark

Conical Intersect, 1975
Splitting: Exterior, 1974
Office Baroque, 1977/2005
Untitled (Cut Drawing), 1975
Circus No. 14 (from Circus Book), 1978
Artpark, 1974


In spring 1973 Gordon Matta-Clark presented his gallerists Holly and Horace Solomon with an unusual idea. He wanted to saw a house into two halves, and asked them if they knew of anything that might be available. As it happened, Horace Solomon had just the thing. He had bought a house in a speculative real estate deal, and it was soon to be demolished. Matta-Clark was given permission to do what he wanted with it, although it was clear that the work would not last.

Matta-Clark completely cleared the house and, taking a chain-saw and a plumb line, made two parallel incisions into the house. He then cut diagonally through one half of the foundations of house. Next, one half (weighing fifteen tons) of the house started to slope downwards until a split appeared that measured sixty centimeters at the top of the roof. Lastly, Matta-Clark sawed off the four top corners of the house. These were later exhibited as a sculpture entitled Four Corners. The whole project took about four months in total and was demolished shortly after completion. A film, a series of photographs, photomontages, and an artist’s book – all autonomous works of art in their own right – documented the process.



Museum der Moderne Salzburg
Mönchsberg 32
5020 Salzburg
Phone: +43 662 842220

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10.00am – 6.00pm
Wednesday 10.00am – 8.00pm
Monday closed

Museum der Moderne website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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