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Events 2009


Talking Dirty. On dirt and waste in art, architecture, and design
A lecture series with Anselm Wagner

”Hygiene‘s not a major concern of mine,“ says the narrator in Charlotte Roche‘s bestseller, Wetlands. She thoroughly dedicates herself to her favorite activity – spreading bacteria. Last year‘s scandalous novel rides a wave in which dirt and trash have become en vogue and have also found their place in fashion and design, where, until recently, absolute cleanliness was next to Godliness. This is the diffusion of a former avant-garde strategy in the mainstream, which began with Dada junk art and peaked with body art in the 1960s and punk in the 1970s.
It was and is about more than simple provocation of middle class morals and taste, namely contrasting the cleanliness of the Modern with the compost of the Postmodern, as Roger Fayet called it. Nevertheless, this does not mean that today‘s ecological recycling mainstream would now value every piece of trash. On the contrary. The more tightly sealed society‘s openings and channels become, which, as Mary Douglas pointed out, always reflect the view of the individual body, the more social ”waste“ will be released. In Zygmunt Bauman‘s Wasted Lives, he describes how today‘s economic and political systems produce vast amounts of ”waste”: unemployment, homeless, stateless, asylum seekers – people no one needs and no one wants and who are ”deposited“ somewhere. The lecture series attempts to trace how the discarded and displaced arose in contemporary art and what it could mean there: A walk along the dirty edges of our culture.

Morning Cleaning or: Showers with Mies
Monday, November 9, 2009, 7 p.m.

Dirty Realism
Monday, November 23, 2009, 7 p.m.

Abject Art and Cynical Materialism
Monday, November 30, 2009, 7 p.m.

Morning Cleaning or: Showers with Mies
Jeff Wall‘s Photography Morning Cleaning is the starting point for postmodern ”dirty“ criticism of the modern, which provides the hygienic furor with an aesthetic framework. Otto Wagner and Le Corbusier, as well as Lenin and Hitler, agreed that only a radical cleansing could bring forth a new world. Indeed, pure formalism of the modern only worked as long as it was possible to conceal its waste.

Dirty Realism
What happens when trash is recycled in such a way that its origin is still visible? The ”dirty realism“ that has gripped architecture and design in this decade turns the idea of a ”clean solution“ on its head. From Freitag bags, Dirty Denim, and Urban Outfitters, the ”Grunge“ aesthetic of Frank Gehry and Lacaton & Vassal, Gritty Brit, and David Adjayes Dirty House, Eastern European chic, and Turbofolk.

Abject Art and Cynical Materialism
A foray through the alleys, gutters, and canals of actionist and feminist body and junk art from the 1960s to today is undertaken with the help of George Bataille‘s ”l‘informe“, Julia Kristeva‘s ”abjection“, and the canine performances of the ancient Cynics. From Piero Manzoni‘s filled cans of Merde d‘artiste to Monika Sosnowska‘s A Dirty Fountain, bubbling out of the filthy broth. Lecturer: Dr. Anselm Wagner is an art historian and art critic, has taught at Vienna University of Technology and the University of Minnesota, and is the editor of Abfallmoderne. Zu den Schmutzrändern der Kultur, Vienna 2009.
Admission is free.