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03 Mar 2014

The very last judgment triptych | Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Herman Asselberghs, After Empire, 2012 (Video Still)

Courtesy of the artist & Auguste Orts, Bruxelles

Exhibition dates | March 7 - May 18, 2014
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna


Claudia Kaiser

xhibit at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Schillerplatz 3
1010 Vienna

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Opening: Thu, March 6, 2014, 7.00 p.m.
Welcome address: Eva Blimlinger, Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
The last judgment triptych by Hieronymus Bosch: Martina Fleischer, Director a. i. of the Paintings Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
The very last judgment triptych: Dieter Lesage, Curator

Artists: Alice Creischer & Andreas Siekmann / Maruša Sagadin / Ina Wudtke / Herman Asselberghs & Dieter Lesage

Curator: Dieter Lesage

Opening hours: Tue–Sun, 10.00 a.m.–6.00 p.m., free admission!
Open on April 21, 2014 (Easter Monday) and May 1, 2014 (National Holiday) / 10.00 a.m.–6.00 p.m.

Hieronymus Bosch's triptych The Last Judgment is one of the most famous works in the Paintings Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. It was painted around 1500 at a time of radical change, during which the old feudal structures were shattered and the modern world and its capitalist system were born. The artists Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann, Maruša Sagadin, and Ina Wudtke have reinterpreted the triptych for the present day and, in xhibit, are showing their interpretations of the three panels in three-dimensional displays in the three rooms of the Gallery. The interpretations of the exterior panels in grisaille, created by Herman Asselberghs and Dieter Lesage, are being exhibited in the two connecting spaces between the rooms.

In The Very Last Judgment Triptych, the city and the world once again face final judgment. Unlike the work by Bosch, the topography of The Very Last Judgment Triptych is a radically secular one. The spatial coordinates of contemporary cosmopolitans, which The Very Last Judgment Triptych is intended to bring to mind, are no longer the Creation, Heaven and Hell, but the city, the state and Hardt and Negri's 'Empire'. The Very Last Judgment Triptych presents and questions different forms of redevelopment of the city, the state and the 'Empire'. It attempts to investigate whether ecological and economic cleanups are not merely an excuse to drive away inconvenient groups of people. Is expulsion the fate of the multitude? Anti-gentrification activists squat buildings, the Occupy and Occupy Gezi movements occupy places and parks; but the last image we see is the image of their expulsion. Does it have to be like this? What can we hope for? How can a more just world come into existence if we have lost faith in the prophecy of a Judgment Day? What day, which days do we want to celebrate as days of justice, even if we no longer believe in ultimate justice?

While today, real estate advertisements present the city as a secular paradise, a place in which the well-to-do should choose to reside, it is also the place from which the poor are being driven away. This expulsion from the metropolitan paradise, commonly known as gentrification, is the theme of The Very Last Judgment Triptych's left 'interior wing' by Ina Wudtke. Her installation tells the multi-layered story of a years-long legal battle for the right to continue living in a rented apartment in Berlin. In her video The 360,000 Euro View, Ina Wudtke combines a view of Berlin's icon, the TV Tower, with a voice-over narrative reflecting on economic structures and individual living conditions, artistic production, and contemporary politics and city planning.

The right 'interior wing' by Maruša Sagadin is set in Vienna. Maruša Sagadin shows how, due to the construction of new buildings, the city becomes a hell for the inhabitants of some of its neighborhoods. In her contribution we may find a counterpart to the devilish orchestra giving its unbearable performance on the right interior panel of Bosch's triptych The Last Judgment. Or: Rap meets Cabaret. The Viennese cabaret Die Hölle (The Hell) at Theater an der Wien (1906-1937) was exemplary for a (literally) underground counterculture to Viennese high and Court culture. Part of the outcome of a thorough reflection on Austria's cultural history could be that cabaret forms, which were mainly cultivated by immigrants or Jewish people, and which after the Anschluss were marginalized by their expulsion, might establish themselves again in opposition to an almost untimely and ruthless cultural hegemony.

The center panel of The Very Last Judgment Triptych is a cooperation project by Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann. The Video All of a Sudden and Simultaneously. A Feasibility Study. Musical Scenes on the Negation of Labor, part of their central triptych piece, documents a performance by Creischer and Siekmann, in cooperation with composer Christian von Borries and others, at the 2007 documenta 12 in a shopping mall next to the Fridericianum in Kassel. In the course of five musical scenes, the viewer becomes disenchanted with the world of commodities by seeing these commodities in the context of their production and the inhuman working conditions involved in that production on the global labor market.

The two works that constitute Belgian video artist Herman Asselberghs' contribution to The Very Last Judgment Triptych may be considered to represent the two exterior wings in grisaille in Bosch's triptych. Asselberghs' video Dear Steve is conceived as an open letter by the artist to Steve Jobs, asking him insistent questions about the conditions of production of one of the most beloved working instruments of many artistic producers, the MacBook Pro laptop. The scenario of a second video, After Empire, was written by Herman Asselberghs together with Belgian philosopher Dieter Lesage, the curator of the show. It refers to the book Empire by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt and is being premiered in this exhibition. The thesis of After Empire is that February 15, 2003 was a secular judgment day, on which millions of people in hundreds of cities all over the world protested against the war in Iraq. It may very well be that these images are chased by others, but art can try to keep the memory of uneasy images: 2/15 rather than 9/11. (Dieter Lesage)

Accompanying program:

Venue | xhibit at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, 1st floor

Fri, March 7, 2014, 4.00 p.m.
Artist Talk
Dieter Lesage in conversation with Alice Creischer, Andreas Siekmann and Herman Asselberghs
(in German and English)

Sun, March 23, 2014, 4.00 p.m.
Artist Talk
Elke Krasny in conversation with Maruša Sagadin and Ina Wudtke
(in German)

Fri, May 16, 2014, 4.00 p.m.

Lecture & Book Release
Dieter Lesage, After The Apocalypse (in English)
Ina Wudtke & Dieter Lesage, The Very Last Judgment Triptych: Book Release
(in German and English)