The exhibition deals with the stories and manifestations
of a collective imagination structured by the polarity of centre and periphery
and which can be generally subsumed under the title »Eurocentrism«. The title
of the exhibition has been borrowed from a book by the literary scholar Mary
Louise Pratt (Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, 1992), in
which she delineates the manufacture of a European »planetary consciousness«
on the basis of travel writing and the activities of collectors since the 18th
The establishment of the systematic natural sciences since that time and parallel
entrepreneurial European expeditions paved the way – along with adventure literature
and travel writing – for a consciousness of European centrality, from which vantage point
the rest of the world proffered itself both as an immense spectacle and as chaos in
need of classification. Alongside the hardened techniques of economic exploitation
and political control of overseas territories, »soft« literary, scientific and artistic
techniques of surveying the world, the ordering of phenomena and the representation of
differences shared in the consolidation of colonial ways of ruling, which in turn
reached their zenith around 1900. The traces of the Eurocentric world view in the
structures of individual consciousness and feeling extend beyond the colonial era,
whereas since the mid 20th Century they have been subjected to post–colonial critique.
The exhibition probes the current status of planetary consciousness on the basis of
artworks concerned with the genesis of a European worldview in cross–genre stagings of
the centre/periphery model against the backdrop of (post–) colonial dispositives. If one
regards this worldview as mythical knowledge, then it is precisely artistic methods and
procedures themselves that seem appropriate to evoke the often diffuse and conceptually
challenging structures of feeling of centrality and planetary consciousness and furthermore
to identify them – very much in Barthes’ description of the mythologies of knowledge – as
»formless, unstable, nebulous condensation«.
In The Present Christine Meisner follows the traces and stages in Joseph Conrad’s novel
Heart of Darkness in Belgium, The Congo and Poland in order to lend historical travel
writing a contemporary perspective. The work is dedicated to a contrapuntal description
of the divided yet differently experienced and institutionalised history of Europe and
Africa. If authors such as Conrad were the ones to shape the collective European imagination
of colonial lands right up to the 20th Century, then it was Alexander von Humboldt in the
19th Century who formed Europe’s planetary consciousness and particularly the image of the
In El crocodilo de Humboldt no es el crocodilo de Hegel, José Alejandro Restrepo refers to
a difference of opinion between Hegel und Humboldt, which can be read as a paradigm for
inner European differences when viewing the world outside Europe, and results in turn from
accessing different disciplines within the general body of knowledge itself.
In Wild Places Lisl Ponger delineates a genealogy of genres of imperialist action/representation
with reference to the colonialised »other«, in which artists play a part. With En Couleur, one of
the best known photographs by Man Ray, Ponger alludes to an early phase of art criticism – which
was however itself still imbued with exotic projections – of European Modernism’s racist, colonialist
image of the world. Ponger’s work Die Beute (The Spoils) compresses the innumerable references of
planetary consciousness to an image of a (post–) modern psychopathology of cultivated Eurocentrism.
Mathias Poledna addresses the Western drive to archive everything by using a specific example,
which however need not be construed from the outset as a product of a colonial, imperialist mentality.
His showcases present long playing records – »Music of Southeast Asia«, »Anthology of Central & South
American Indian Music«, »Voices of the Satellites«, etc. – which are taken from a Folkways Records
(1948––1986) project aimed at compiling an encyclopaedic compendium of the »entire world of sounds«.
The records appear here in a museum setting as documents of Western Modernism, whose sense of self
feeds upon from the notion of an exhaustive visualisation and preservation of the Other.
Christine Meisner, * 1970, lives in Berlin.
2008 MUSEION Bozen.
2007 Victoria & Albert Museum London; Centre of Contemporary Art Warsaw.
2006 Salzburger Kunstverein.
2005 Musée des Beaux–Arts–Ville de Nantes; Pinacoteca, Sao Paulo;
Modern Art, Recife.
2004 ifa-Galerie, Berlin; ifa-Galerie, Stuttgart; Ateliers d’Artistes de la Ville,
2003 NGBK Berlin; Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna.
2000 Kunstbuero Vienna. 1999 film festival Diagonale Graz.
Mathias Poledna, * 1965, lives in Los Angeles and Vienna.
2007–2009 Crystal Palace, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles/ Museum of
Contemporary Art, Chicago/ New Museum of
Contemporary Art, New York
2007 For a Special Place: Documents and Works from the Generali Foundation
Collection, Austrian Cultural Forum, New York.
2006 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum New York (Cat.)
Bucholz, Cologne (Solo)
2005 Witte de With, Rotterdam (Solo)
2004 20/20 Vision, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
3. Biennale fuer
Zeitgenoessische Kunst, Kunstwerke Berlin (Cat.)
2003 Museum fuer Moderne Kunst, Sammlung Ludwig, Vienna (Solo).
2001 Grazer Kunstverein, Graz (Solo)
1996 Manifesta 1, Rotterdam.
Lisl Ponger, * 1947, lives in Vienna.
2008 Lasst tausend Blumen bluehen, Kunsthaus, Dresden (Cat.) (Solo)
2007 21 Positions, Austrian Cultural Forum, New York.
Imago Mundi, Landesgalerie, Linz (Cat.) (Solo)
2006 All our Tomorrows, Kunstraum der Universitaet Lueneburg, Lueneburg
2005 Projekt Migration, Koelnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (Cat.)
Schweizer Krankheit + die Sehnsucht nach der Ferne, Kunsthaus Dresden,
2004 Der Black Atlantic, House of World Cultures, Berlin (Cat.)
Si j’avais eu l’autorisation ... , Dak’art Off. Dakar, (Solo)
Tour–ism, Tapies Foundation, Barcelona
2002 Documenta XI, Kassel (Cat.)
Routes, Grazer Kunstverein, Graz (Cat.)
José Alejandro Restrepo, * 1959, lives in Bogota.
2007 52nd Biennal Venice
2006 Artists Space, New York
2005 Amos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki
2004 Botánica política. Usos de la ciencia, usos de la historia. Sala Montcada,
Fundació "la Caixa", Barcelona, Spain
Leçons de mémoire/Memory Lessons. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France
"Nous venons en paix..."/Histoires des
Amériques. Musée d’Art Contemporain,
Montréal, Canada (Cat.)
2003 Machihembrao. Galería Valenzuela y Klenner, Bogotá, Colombia (Cat.)
Colombia 2003. Oscar Muñoz, José
Alejandro Restrepo, Miguel Ángel Rojas.
de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Argentina (Cat.)
90: Desplazamientos. Arte colombiano en los 90. Museo de Arte Moderno,
Bogotá, Colombia (Cat.)
2002 TransHistoires. Histoire et mythe dans l’oeuvre de José Alejandro
Ecole Supérieure des Beaux–Arts,
Toulouse, France (cat.) (Solo)
2000 7th Biennal Havanna
This project was carried out in the framework of translate.eipcp.net und mit Mitteln des EU-Kultur 2000
Programms der Europäischen Union durchgeführt.