Manfred Grübl / nach einem Gespräch mit Linda Klösel

A public space defines itself through its democratic principle. An intervention can differentiate here and elucidate upon structural mechanisms. The key issue is whether we consider public space to be physical, social or mental. My performative installations take place unannounced at exhibition openings in galleries and institutions. This is how I participate in an art business which, as a part of financial capital, is increasingly confronted by the discussion on how it wishes to deal with the discrepancy between the desire for relaying critical discourse and the reality of growing economization. My interventions are not intended to be seen as purely subversive opposition but instead to explore the fault line between participatory intervention and opportunistic complicity.
Every person who adopts a stance is also behaving politically. My works frequently demand a kind of personal responsibility from the viewer. A responsibility which one cannot evade sometimes, such as in the exhibition kidnapped or the work Anna Stepanowna Politkowskaja. They exact reactions through art and call society and the self into question. This is the case with my performance 4 minutes demo on Red Square in Moscow with which I attempt to challenge the mechanisms of state security mechanisms.
A further project alongside my main artistic activities is the production of the magazine Version. Each edition concentrates on a topic relating to phenomena and issues imminent to art with socio-political developments. Texts, interviews and discussions are penned and edited by artists, cultural figures and producers from various fields. It differs from other art magazines in that it abstains from journalistic and art-theoretical meta-coverage and concentrates on issues from the vantage point of productive involvement.

Short description of works

kidnapped audience / Installation / plasterboard, steel profile, doors and door check

The exhibition goer reaches the gallery space via a system of locks, with the visitors having to walk through three doors which close automatically behind them and do not reopen. The doors are only reopened by a security company at the end of the event, and visitors are then able to leave the gallery. The construction acts as a ‘threshold’ which clarifies the separation of the social exterior space with the interior world of the art system.

Anna Stepanowna Politkowskaja / one-way mirror, print on paper

Politkowskaja was among the few journalists who contracted official representations from the crisis region consciously and continuously in her reports. This made the crimes of the Russian army and their allied paramilitary Chechen groups public. Anna Politkowskaja was found shot to death in the lift of her apartment block on 7th October 2006. My work shows her portrait behind semi-transparent one-way mirror, which simultaneously reflects one’s own face superimposed upon hers. When we approach her portrait or her face rather, we are not permitted to distance ourselves and behave as if this all has nothing to do with us.

personal installation

When we attend an exhibition opening, we find ourselves in a socially and culturally coded space, which is at least partially public and encapsulates certain target groups. We move and act in accordance with ritualized communication patterns and stereotyping amidst objects that are not only charged with economic but also ideal value. This well-rehearsed habitus, incorporating language, movement and apparel, emphasizes a sworn group identity which is effectively exclusive, whether we want it to be or not. During the course of an exhibition opening eight uniformly dressed people position themselves in a closed orthogonal system and remain standing in this position until the end of the event. Their respective orientation is passed on to the neighbouring person. It could be one and the same person appearing eight times in the space, a form of replication which toys with its surrounding spatial and social systems.

crash-mat / Installation with a heavy-weight wrestler and a mat

In crash-mat visitors have to relinquish control over their body to a heavy-weight wrestler, who literally throws them before they can attend in the exhibition opening. They therefore have to fight for participation in art or at least they have to consciously surrender themselves to the event and possibly put themselves at risk. They are otherwise excluded from participation.

4 minutes demo / Intervention Moscow Red Square

Red Square in Moscow has increasingly become a high-security area due to the political situation in Russia. Roadblocks, policing, camera surveillance and military guards all create a filter around the square. Every successful penetration of the surveillance system is consequently a potential demonstration. The intervention lasted for four minutes – it was then broken up by the police and FSB personnel.

La Joconde / Paris 2010

La Joconde represents an attempt to simulate an attack on Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, an icon of art history. The resultant video documents the hectic intervention of the security staff, who endeavour to overwhelm me the moment I step over the barrier to get closer to the painting. I am referring to the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 here – something which made the work even more famous with the ensuing scandal around the affair. The public poured into the museum in order to see the empty space on the wall. The media echo and the unbridled trade in reproductions, which lasts until today, is reminiscent of the modern marketing methods that bestow art works with economic value.