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16 Mar 2010

Johanna Billing and Sara Deraedt at Grazer Kunstverein

Johanna Billing, MISSING OUT 2, Videostill, 2001, 4 min.

Johanna Billing - Moving in, five films
STUDIO: Sara Deraedt
grazer kunstverein


16.03. - 30.04.2010

Manuela Rosenzopf
0043 (0)316 83 41 41
0043 (0)316 83 41 42

grazer kunstverein
palais trauttmansdorff
burggasse 4
8010 graz

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Johanna Billing

In conjunction with the thematic video archive 'It is hard to touch what is real', since 2006 the Grazer Kunstverein has presented four video productions by the artist Johanna Billing (*1973, lives in Stockholm).

The archive, compiled under the direction of Søren Grammel and Maria Lind, has traveled from its permanent station in the Grazer Kunstverein through 14 European art institutions – including the Centre d'Art Santa Monica in Barcelona or the Kunsthalle Tallinn – and thus contributed to making Johanna Billing's work more well known. Her videos and installations have meanwhile been shown at documenta 12 and the Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, among others.

The exhibition in the Grazer Kunstverein is intended to be a continuation of this collaboration. At the same time, it is Johanna Billing's first solo exhibition in Austria.

Again and again, the young people portrayed by Johanna Billing in her videos appear to be principally interested in the possibilities of a political-cultural, collective engagement. At the same time, they seem to have difficulty putting this into action or reconciling it with their respective individual demands and tensions within the group or a social context. Billing exemplifies the description of the problem in one of her videos, 'Project for a Revolution', by revitalizing the famous film sequence from Antonioni's 'Zabriskie Point': students are filmed as they actively decide on resistance and the occupation of the university in plenum. In a way that is formally similar, Billing also shows a space with young people who have gathered there. Yet Billing's camera moves and pans back and forth among the participants without anyone speaking up or giving the meeting a purposeful initiative. Time merely passes.

Billing's relationship to this historical filmic shot by Antonioni recalls a discussion that many Western European young people have with their parents; the parents reproach their children for being apolitical and no longer developing social utopias. To this extent, the video not only shows the personal difficulties of a certain attitude or the problem of social engagement today as a whole, but it also does so at a media level by taking Antonioni's shot that has long since become an icon, but at the same time not accepting it as 'repeatable'.

In this way – and this is a recurrent moment of the fascination of Billing's work – the conflict is simultaneously depicted as an aesthetic one: which images even still work – and which already seem nostalgic?

Sara Deraedt

Sara Deraedt works with found images and own photos; often depicting objects, spaces or surroundings with a particular fascination: In 'LeLambris' for example she compiles material copied from home improvement magazines in a self-produced folder. Through editing, reformatting and partly also erasing information, she transforms the material into something both abstract and highly specific: clues to the very realistic possibility of simple, yet mysterious actions which may be performed in places that seem equally foreign and familiar, functional and artistic. The piece 'untitled' in turn is a framed poster reminiscent of conventional art photography prints. Laid out in a clear elegant manner, it shows a close-up photo of an industrially produced ornamental carpet, of the kind that might be used in a business hotel somewhere on the planet to convey a sense of place. Deraedt describes a world in which the boundaries between actions and their representations, between sites and deeds become blurry. Working with different media of presentation and communication, she continuously creates new possibilities of deciding which of the things she sees will become visible and which will remain unseen. (*1984, lives in Vienna and Brussels).


The entrance space of the Grazer Kunstverein, called 'Studio', constitutes a grey-zone at the conjunction of office, information, communication and artistic production. Along with alternating selected publications, editions and art journals, interventions and presentations by artists take place in this area. The video archive 'It is hard to touch the real' is also accessible here.