2. December 1998 – 16. January 1999

Susanne Gamauf (AT), Robert F. Hammerstiel (AT), Dieter Huber (AT), Waltraud Palme (AT), Margherita Verdi (IT), Paul den Hollander (NL)

Theme of Focus: NATURE – VEGETATION 1998

Collecting, classifying, changing, man is always interfering with nature’s processes – it goes beyond documentation. The artist’s treatment of nature and its potential for cultivation, changes with the generation but has nothing to do with the actual age of the artists involved. Often the rather elder artists work with the newest technologies. Shouldn’t the artist’s age fit in chronologically with the treatment? However neither in art nor in vegetation do things proceed in such a simple linear way.
A botanical journey leads Paul Den Hollander to the journey of plants through the millennia. Evolution and transmigration of vegetation are bundled together in the collective view of a variety of collecting institutions into a contemporary retrospective. A piece of research into archetypes is transformed into a formal vocabulary for an artistic theory of combinations.
Waltraud Palme investigates the concept vegetative in its duality as both “pertaining to a plant” and “without direct control” as for example it is meant in the expression a “vegetative nervous system”. She indulges her collector’s instinct, uses an old herbarium, divided it into real collected objects and their shadows. In the photographic technique “photogram” the shadow which the object casts on the light sensitive paper stays white while the surrounding surface develops into a dark background.
Margherita Verdi collects the material for her pictures in botanical gardens. The artificiality of such places is doubled by her artistic approach. The photographic extracts from this vegetative wonder world drift between artificial reality and real artificiality, the frame is no border, the pictures float into space.
Robert F. Hammerstiel reveals, thanks to sociological research, life’s habits and wishes as consumer items. “Glücksfutter” a new work with standardised house palm plants represents the secret desires of advertising strategies and marketing managers – the idea that one could wrap up adventure and take it home to set it up and enjoy it at will. Nature in the consumer wonder world is domesticated.
The gardens of the artist, as Susanne Gamauf develops them, are the product of the artist’s eternal task. Her original arrangements of vegetative substances communicate transparency and the ordering hand, which knows how to handle its resources.
Dieter Huber obviously has no problem with generating.- In the age of new media reality he clones. The natural image and the final artistic product indicate the empirical power of art – in the seventh heaven of the picture nothing is forbidden, nothing is unthinkable. In contrast with the first generation of computer generated art photography, Dieter Huber has outgrown socio-political prescriptions for pictures. His pictures are poetical reflections of social reality but in the first instance he is creating the future (even if his works are not deadly serious).
With this exhibition comes the end of a cycle which picture production had devoted to growth – both vegetative and artistic – the surprises of the next century are already being heralded.

Jana Wisniewski