On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the University of Applied Arts #vienna, the major exhibition AESTHETICS OF CHANGE: 150 Years of the University of Applied Arts #vienna (15 December 2017 – 15 April 2018) delves into the cosmos of an Austrian cultural university that is at once one of the richest in tradition and among the most visionary. In two parts, the jubilee exhibition, a cooperation between the University of Applied Arts #vienna and the MAK, converges on the Angewandte’s historically evolved position as the leading competence center for artistic and scientific education and research. In the lower MAK Exhibition Hall, around 400 exhibition objects reveal insights into the numerous highlights of its 150-year history. Speculative and occasionally provocative contemporary positions in the upper MAK Exhibition Hall sketch the future of art and education in front of a backdrop of social and technological upheavals.
A Multiperspectival Approach to 150 Years of “The Angewandte”
On 21 September 1867, in an informal letter, Emperor Franz Joseph laid the cornerstone for a new educational institution affiliated with the erstwhile Imperial Royal Austrian Museum of Art and Industry (today’s MAK). On 1 October 1868, instruction had already begun at the (as it was then known) Imperial Royal School of Arts and Crafts, initially still in a courtyard wing of the Palais Brenner on Währinger Straße. In 1877 the school relocated to the new Heinrich von Ferstel-designed building on Stubenring, directly next to the museum. In 2018 the Angewandte will further expand into two large, newly adapted buildings in close proximity to the Ringstraße.
Thousands of biographies from the realms of art, architecture, and design meanwhile have become associated with the Angewandte through teaching or studies. The graduates represent an amalgam of “stars” of art, architecture, and design history—from Gustav Klimt to Oskar Kokoschka and Maria Lassnig, from Josef Frank to Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and Hans Hollein—and names previously unknown to the public at large. Many of the antecedent artists have scarcely been illuminated up to now—because they either did not pursue a market-oriented artistic career or switched to teaching or other functions.
In the part of the exhibition shown in the lower MAK Exhibition Hall and curated by Elisabeth Schmuttermeier (Curator, MAK Metal Collection and Wiener Werkstätte Archive) and Patrick Werkner (art historian and professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna), over 400 exhibition objects from the University’s own collection and the MAK’s collection, as well as items on loan, enable a multiperspectival view of the Angewandte’s enormous output. The art and design collection of the University with its clear mission statement of documenting the work of teachers and graduates is contributing a broad cross-section of 300 objects. The MAK is supplementing this selection with numerous works by professors and graduates that were taken up into the MAK collection through the mid-1930s.
The visionary exhibition design by BWM Architects, in particular Johann Moser and Sanja Utech, yields a type of encyclopedia of the Angewandte. The alphabetical sequence of objects and themes allows exhibition visitors to forge their own connections in terms of the content.
A synthesis of history and present is provided by the heart of the presentation: The “genealogies” of courses across 150 years demonstrate the enormous differentiation in the educational offering from its origins through today. At the same time, at President Gerald Bast’s invitation, all Angewandte departments are presenting themselves in short videos. Audio stations, videos, web stations, and a generous book table that provides glimpses into the Angewandte’s extensive publishing activity complete the vista of the Angewandte’s vital story, inextricably linked to political and social developments.
Scenarios for the Future
In the second part of the exhibition AESTHETICS OF CHANGE: 150 Years of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, the curatorial team of Peter Weibel (Chairman, ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; professor emeritus, University of Applied Arts Vienna) and Gerald Bast (President, University of Applied Arts Vienna) sketch theses for the future and for a possible reorientation of education, art, and society.
“Technological innovation, geopolitical upheavals, and scientific progress are changing our world with unprecedented rapidity. Our current times are characterized by uncertainty, discontinuity, and ambiguity. It is difficult to keep up—on an individual as well as on a structural level. Yet it is more important than ever to thematize and to question the implications of these transformational processes. Universities play an especially important role in this discussion, and thus a jubilee affords a good opportunity to cast a glance not only into the past, but also into the future: What do we expect of universities of the future? What demands do we place on educational institutions of the future? How do we deal with knowledge? What do the abovementioned changes in society and economy signify for the future of culture? Will it be marginalized or will it take on a new function? What does this ultimately mean for the fields in which our graduates are working?” is how Gerald Bast delineates the prospective challenges that are thematized in the contemporary part of the exhibition.
Three modern trends—the social turn, the technological turn, and the cultural turn— constitute the framework for the exhibition setting in the upper MAK Exhibition Hall. Contemporary artistic positions and current research explore how these three topic areas are influencing education, art, and society.
On display are artistic approaches; visualizations of findings from migration and demographic research, in cooperation with the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU); visualizations of the “gene scissors” and its consequences, in cooperation with Renée Schroeder, researcher and professor at the Department of Biochemistry at Max F. Perutz Laboratories; new and already existing works by Peter Weibel; as well as positions by students and graduates and works by contemporary artists.
More than anything, lighting design plays a key role in checkpointmedia’s exhibition concept. Virgil Widrich and Stefan Unger transform the most diverse artistic positions and even the scientific research projects into sensuously palpable moments.
The motto “We cannot predict the future, but we must shape it” is intended to spark a discussion that will spur the aesthetics of change in the future as well.
AESTHETICS OF CHANGE
150 Years of the University of Applied Arts Vienna
A cooperation between the University of Applied Arts #vienna and the MAK
Press Conference Thursday, 14 December 2017, 10:30 a.m.
Opening Thursday, 14 December 2017, 7 p.m. MAK Exhibition Hall
MAK, Stubenring 5, 1010 Vienna
15 December 2017 – 15 April 2018
Tue 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Wed–Sun 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Free admission on Tuesdays from 6–10 p.m.
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