Austrian Cultural Forum NYC

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EXHIBITION

EXHIBITION

AGAINST THE SPECIALIST

THURSDAY SEP 13 - SUNDAY JAN 06


AGAINST THE SPECIALIST
Contemporary References to Arnold Schoenberg in Image and Sound

Open Daily, 10AM - 6PM. Free Admission.

Artists: KONRAD BECKER, JOHN BRILL, DEPART, TINA FRANK/FLORIAN HECKER, ROBERT HOWSARE, RAINER KOHLBERGER, KURT KREN, CLAUDIA MÄRZENDORFER, GERALD MOSER
Exhibition Design: ALEX LIN
Curator: EVA FISCHER

A modern day appraisal of Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg and his legacy forms the point of departure for the Austrian Cultural Forum’s fall/winter exhibition, titled Against the Specialist. The show, which is being mounted in cooperation with the Arnold Schoenberg Center, Vienna, presents a group of international contemporary artists working at the intersection between seeing and hearing; image and sound; and avant-garde and experimental practice.

The title of the exhibition is a direct quote by Schoenberg, from an essay he wrote in 1940, in which he argued for the necessity of multidisciplinarianism in the arts. It also hearkens back to Schoenberg’s differentiation between true artistic genius and talented craftspeople: “Talent is the capacity to learn, genius the capacity to develop oneself.” Schoenberg saw the need to develop a command of and utilize many different disciplines as essential to the artistic process.

The juxtaposition of works by contemporary artists with excerpts and quotes from Arnold Schoenberg’s body of work exposes the complexity of this composer, visual artist, and vanguard who is today regarded as one of the most influential and visionary artists of the past century. Schoenberg’s interdisciplinary use of so many different means of expression renders him a precursor to what Rosalind Krauss calls the “age of the post-media condition.”

Against the Specialist seeks to reflect these multi-media and interdisciplinary currents prevalent in contemporary arts, and in doing so, allows for a reassessment of the artist himself. As Peter Weibel puts it, these “new forms and possibilities of art [enable] us to establish new approaches to the old media of art and above all have kept the latter alive by forcing them to undergo a process of radical transformation.”

To this end, some of the artists in this exhibition reference Schoenberg’s oeuvre directly, while others connect to Schoenberg on a metaphorical level: questions of music theory or structure are addressed, and visual expressions make deliberate use of systems such as metrics, chromatics, and rhythm. The show also focuses on reevaluating the ideas put forth by Schoenberg and his contemporaries. Concepts such as his “inner cry of distress” have obviously lost relevance, but what are the visions and ideas that fuel artists today? Can we still revolutionize art, or has everything been said, leaving room only for collage, remixes, or quotes?

[Image: DEPART, Still from Cloud Chamber Diaries (2012), Courtesy of the artists]

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