WITTGENSTEIN HAUS VIENNA Dezember 2018
Timisoara May 2020
Exhibition / Performances / Installations / Lectures / Talks / Education / Work Sops
Norbert Francis Attard, Terry Billings, Lori Blondeau, Ilse Chlan, Agnes Hamvas, Lynn Cohen, Oscar Cueto, Michael Koch, An Te Liu, Michael Morris, NOIMA, starsky, Franz Wassermann
Minna Antova, Wayne Baerwaldt, Denise Parizek
WITTGENSTEIN is an interdisciplinary exhibition with educational program
WITTGENSTEIN The curatorial premise focuses on the multi-layered language-based investigations of Ludwig Wittgenstein but more specifically on how his ideas in the 21st-century are interpreted by mixed media visual artists.
WITTGENSTEIN proposes a combination of new media art works,
interventions and performances, installations and new genre works that mirror Wittgenstein´s skills as a philosopher, architect, designer, lover of fine arts and aural experience.
Parallel to the exhibition is an educational program including workshops for children and students, lectures, discussions and talks. In each case the goal is to return to the topics that emerge from Wittgenstein´s philosophy, debating his point of view, connecting his thesis to the 21st-century.
The exhibition WITTGENSTEIN will be a challenge for audiences but no more so a challenge than the
philosophical constructs attributed to the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951). It is
said that the philosophical underpinnings of Wittgenstein’s work can´t be well understood. The only
thing we can do is to draw near, to understand parts of his theoretical approach.
For that we are allowed to approximate an understanding of Wittgenstein’s concepts from diverse directions, i.e., Philosophy, Architecture, Music, Art, Literature, Gender Studies, Jewish Society in Vienna before World War II. Bertrand Russell described Wittgenstein as “the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived; passionate, profound, intense, and dominating.“
To bring WITTGENSTEIN to Malta seems timely in the midst of a Europe in transition and we might only think of the jaw dropping challenges that waves of migrants and refugees bring to language. How does one comprehend, respond and envision a future sense of home/place lessness? Malta might provide answers like no other place as it stands between cultures in the Mediterranean. Malta is a place where languages and ideas from the past and present overlap, merge and remain in mild flux. One hears the English language spoken and then its clarity deviates and it appears to emerge with new intonations from a past era. The ancient Maltese language is omnipresent and to the untrained ear it references Middle Eastern dialect. I have a couple artists in mind if, as Bertrand Russell suggested it was wildlife striving to be in the open that was the substance of Wittgenstein‘s philosophy.
Of course it‘s so much more and so complicated but, that said, I would like to think that the Canadian artist, Terry Billings might respond to this proposition with an intriguing project. Billings teaches at the University of Saskatchewan in the areas of drawing, painting and sculpture. In her video, audio, mixed media and installation work, she examines the relationship between nature and culture and the boundaries between public forms of understanding and subjective experience. She’ll produce a new work for Malta, an installation specific to a visual and aural languages striving to be open and responsive. Another artist, An Te Liu, a Toronto-based artist-architect, could contribute Brancusi inspired sculptures and have much to say, as an architect, about the famous Wittgenstein-designed house in Vienna and perhaps produce new work that comprehends the context of Malta.
UK-born Michael Morris first came to prominence in the 1960s as a leading member of Vancouver’s burgeoning avant-garde. He is particularly well known for his series of Letter Paintings, monumental triptychs on canvas that feature his trademark vertical bands of graduated colour divided by concave sections of mirrors designed to make the paintings interactive with the viewing space. Morris’ concrete poems address the relationship between art and language, and between visual imagery and poetry. For WITTGENSTEIN Morris will produce Malta Letter while in residence in Valletta.
Wittgenstein himself offered the following: “My propositions serve as elucidations... anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them - as steps - to climb up beyond them.
(He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922).
For the purposes of the proposed exhibition, a starting point for participating artists is the shared ability to ruminate on roads, paths, stairs and ladders...they all lead somewhere. But do people ever truly reach the summit? Or do they come crashing down as soon as this pinnacle has been reached?
Proposed artworks for the 2017 exhibition at Haus Wittgenstein will address aspects of the famous theory of language of Wittgenstein. In his early work “Tractatus logico-philosophicus” (TLP) released in 1921, Wittgenstein develops a picture theory of language. From his point of view the logical structure of language mirrors the logical structure of the world. However, this relation between language and world – this common ground of the logical form – cannot be expressed adequately by linguistic means, because language cannot be examined in a lucid manner from the outside. It is not possible to speak about language by using language. Wittgenstein expressed the opinion that indeed we are not able to speak about the relation between language and world but that this relation appears within corresponding sentences (“My sentences elucidate in a way that the one who understands me realizes in the end the senselessness when he climbs by them – on them–over them. (So to speak, he must throw away the ladder after climbing it.)”
Actually, the meaningful is in the end what cannot be said. From here Wittgenstein concludes his famous final sentence of the TLP: “Whereof we cannot speak about we must remain silent upon.”
Keeping this in mind, one can reflect on Norbert Francis Attard’s work with its “luminous” aesthetics that function as a philosophical critical comment about the boundaries not only of a linguistically logical capability to depict but also of a scientific and technical usability of perception and cognition. In many other ways the artists proposed for this exhibition address the same challenge of boundaries or capacity of linguistic pronouncements to depict anything with clarity. The proposed artists include Norbert Francis Attard, Lynn Cohen, An Te Liu, Lori Blondeau, Terry Billings, Ilse Chlan, Oscar Cueto, Michael Koch, Martin Muller, Starsky and Franz Wassermann.
Wayne Baerwaldt / Curator, Canada / USA 2017