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Nives Widauer

Special Cases - Cosmic Rocket

18 November 2014 to 02 December 2014
Upper BelvedereBelvedere
The Swiss artist Nives Widauer regularly conceives installation-like settings for theatre and opera productions. In 2011, during the Lucerne Festival, she happened to stumble across the instrument cases of the Vienna Philharmonics in the sub-stage area of the Culture and Congress Centre and was fascinated. “While the musicians rehearse on the stage, their cases, clothes, bags, and shoes quietly sleep underneath in the form of a gigantic arrangement,” the artist describes the beginnings of her project. In 2013, Nives Widauer accompanied the Philharmonics for almost a year on their tour to Paris, London, Milan, Lucerne, Basel, and New York, capturing the lives and journeys of the cases and boxes in her photographs. With her documentation of this “backstage camping”, the artist, who lives in Vienna, tells a story of temporary settlement and fascinatingly illustrates the relationship between the musicians and their instrument cases. In her book Special Cases - Cosmic Rocket, soon to be published by Hatje Cantz, she has put her impressions on record in the form of a travel diary. For her installation of the same name, which will be on view from 18 November to 2 December in the Upper Belvedere’s Marble Hall, Nives Widauer has arranged the instrument cases of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra as a monumental sculpture. The resulting form of a rocket symbolically refers to such ideas as travelling and movement while also taking into account the venue by directly responding to the illusionism of the ceiling fresco and its central opening towards the skies.
“My installation plays with the notion of the impossible. The rocket is firmly anchored on the ground of the Belvedere’s Marble Hall, yet it seems as if it were able to fly – it’s the (im)possible lightness of being,” Nives Widauer explains. For more than fifteen years, the artist has dealt with such themes as space exploration and the overcoming of gravity. In her work Special Cases - Cosmic Rocket, the artistic focus is once again on the transmission of gravity as one of the big puzzles of physics. In line with many of her works, the notion of equilibrium, the correlation between time and emotions, and the present moment as the central point in life are of particular relevance here as well.? ?“In her work, Nives Widauer oscillates between two poles, the boundaries of which she deliberately transgresses. Collaborating with music and theatre productions, she designs multimedia scenographies for which she innovatively expands the possibilities offered by video-technological image production (such as by using infrared cameras). Closed-circuit projections underscore the thematic and aesthetic aspects of what happens on the stage and provoke transmedial interactions. Her theatrical spaces explicitly distinguish themselves from approaches committed to a documentary attitude or the re-enactment of historical and political situations (e.g., Rimini Protokoll, Milo Rau, Anna Viebrock). Simultaneously, the artist produces videos, large-scale (video) installations, objects, photographic works, as well as collages and drawings, in which Widauer likewise consistently fathoms the transitions between the visual arts, literature, and performative practices. Materiality and movement, language and image, and time and space are parameters analysed in the respective media. In her video works, Widauer frequently combines linguistic and filmic interpretations of texts (e.g., Sie nahten sich mir ganz ohne Scheu, 1998; Todesfuge, 1999), linking medial peculiarities of literary and (audio)visual narration. Other work groups are characterised by a strong phenomenological interest and a preoccupation with processes of remembrance. Besides accidental discoveries of and experiences with specific situations extant in reality, the artist’s thematic reservoir also draws upon cultural references. Such works as minor catastrophes (begun in 2006) or Lora et ses amies (2010) attest to a work strategy that embraces both gestures of seduction and moments of coincidence. Her photographic series moonshadows (begun in 1996) revolves around intuitive processes of image genesis in which the moment of uncertainty and the loss of control play a central role. Especially her symbioscreens, remarkable combinations of video stills and moving images, expose opposites, transitions, or states of uncertainty as formative structural elements with regard to both form and content. Irony and humour as well as seriality and repetition serve as methods in order to generate a necessary distance to what would be far too personal or much too beautiful. In this way, Widauer succeeds in translating exterior and interior “images”, ideas, concrete (physical) facts, cultural topoi, and pictorial forms into a poetic and frequently surprising visual language that relates to existential and general issues of perception and the forces of the ordinary on a higher level.”[1]

 [1] SIKART (SIK-ISEA): http://www.sikart.ch/KuenstlerInnen.aspx?id=9617533