#contemporaryvienna / People

Tales of 2 Cities | Jewish Museum Vienna

Meet Zenita KomadEkaterina Shapiro-Obermair and Hans Weigand – artists of the exhibition Tales of 2 Cities at the Jewish Museum Vienna.

© Vera Undritz

© Vera Undritz

The Jewish Museum Vienna and “Memorial”, a historical and human rights organization in Moscow have an extensive collection of objects, mostly testimony to the history of repression and marginalization. “Memorial” was founded in Moscow in 1990. Its archive contains testimony to political repression and human rights violations in the Soviet Union. For all their differences, both institutions are central locations for the documentation and visualization of history.

For “Tale of 2 Cities” six artists were confronted with a selection of objects from both collections. They created new works which provide an artistic reflection of the history and stories behind these museum objects and also create new stories.

Zenita Komad

Zenita Komad

Zenita Komad lives and works in Vienna. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Applied Art in Vienna. Numerous national and international exhibitions; represented in collections worldwide. Courtesy of Galerie Krinzinger.

What do you find interesting about Russian/Austrian contemporary art practice?
The ability to adapt and change is present in the countries of the former Soviet Union more than in any other people in the world. My experience with people from these countries is that they are very warm and loving people and i think this is also present in the art. I do not see another force in the world like the force that the people from the former Soviet Union have in their character, their aspiration to have a cause, live for it, even suffer in its name, as long as it is a real cause. They have the potential for unity and this has to be „for“ something good and not “against“ something or someone. Like always we can find strong key figures in the art here and there – those are personalities that open a new perspective of togetherness and connectedness in their concepts and artistic practice. As we reached a level of interconnectedness in a global world, it makes no sense for me to compare the nations – it is more likely to feel and realize the qualities of every nation and turn the dependences into good and healthy commitment to support each other and make this world become a place worth living on. Art has the responsibility to open the hearts of everybody to open ourselves for a new dimension of life.

In which art collections would you most like to see your work?
This is a very tricky question. First of all i want to see a change in society – in a better, deeper way of understanding between people. There is many collections that i really like – i don’t know where to start…

What are the disadvantages of being a contemporary artist now in Austria?
I don´t really see disadvantage here. Of course it is a small country, with only a few collectors – and a very small media network.
But in general i have very good experience with the art scene in Austria even though one must always try to open international doors to advance and place positions. The former times of glamorous invitations of international artists through people like Peter Noever or Gerald Matt helped this country very much to getting closer to being an epitome of the arts. There are highly gifted and skilled people in all kinds of fields. Vienna as the capital of Austria opens more and more for other nations. You can see it in the art sphere, as well as in science. At the last party I visited in Vienna I met 40 people from 30 nations. This makes Vienna special all of a sudden. It’s never about a place – it’s always about people and how they connect among each other. I am talking about true connection here – listening to each other and creating a common field of interest, where everyone adds his part. I see Austria as the perfect university, art and science nation – a melting point for scrutiny and international effort. It has the potential to become a laboratory to serve the world.

Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair

Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair

Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair lives and works in Vienna. She was born and brought up in Moscow and emigrated to Germany in 1998. She studied painting and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg and Vienna, where she obtained her diploma in 2009 with Manfred Pernice. Numerous national and international exhibitions; curator of the project “Soviet Modernism. Unknown Stories” at the Architekturzentrum Vienna (2012). Editor of Das große Moskau, das es niemals gab (2008).

What do you find interesting about Russian/Austrian contemporary art practice?
I am not sure if the question itself is not reactionary. In its formulation it claims the opposition between the East European and the Western contemporary art and indirectly repeats the slogan “Russia is not Europe”, affirmed recently by the Russian Ministry of Culture. For my understanding what we consider as contemporary art is a global phenomena, connected inextricably with the world capitalist system. As long as Russia will stay a part of it, it is delusive to divide artistic practices in Russian and Austrian.

What is the most appealing to you in this project?
I think it´s very important that this project takes place. On one hand it deals amongst other issues with the history of repressions during the Soviet time, topic, which seems to be suppressed or at least unrepresented in official Russian discourse. On the other hand it shows that a cooperation between Russia and Europe on cultural level is not only possible, but could be thoroughly productive.
Within my own work there are a lot of aspects I am interested in regarding to this project: the possibility of representation of history with the means of fine art, the connection between the aesthetics and the means of production or the role of an object outside of its original context.

What is a good curator like?
A good curator is someone with own ideas, with faith in artist and with passion for art.

Hans Weigand

Hans Weigand

Hans Weigand lives and works in Vienna. Many national and international exhibitions, including Museum Ludwig Cologne, Secession Vienna, University Art Gallery San Diego; represented in national and international collections.

What do you find interesting about Austrian contemporary art practice?
I find Austrian art’s tendency towards black humor and self-destruction striking and intriguing.

How do you evaluate the representation of Austrian art on an international level?
The death of Franz West left a vacuum in the Austrian art field that is also traceable on an international level. But I already see signs of fresh impetus in the young generation and thus I am optimistic that Austrian contemporary art will again gain significance.

What are the advantages of being a contemporary artist now in Austria?
One benefits from Vienna’s rich past, especially psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freund and Wilhelm Reich and modern music with Arnold Schönberg and Anton von Webern.

Tales of 2 Cities
till 19 Apr 2015

Olga Jitlina
Zenita Komad and the Unity Operators
Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair
Haim Sokol
Hans Weigand
Alisa Yoffe

Curators: Astrid Peterle, Natalia Petrova, Simon Mraz

Museum Judenplatz
Judenplatz 8, 1010
Fri 10:00 – 17:00
Sat Closed

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