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21 / 30 The legacy of gazes

 

Is it not strange that we 'take care', rather than giving it? We take care of something or of somebody. We say: ‘take care’ when somebody leaves on a journey. But what is it that we take when we take care? A sorrow? A fear? A concern? In German Kummer (sorrow, grief) and kümmern (to take care of something or sombody) describe the same relationship. Taking care means sharing a concern or a sorrow. Maybe care requires both: the taking and giving of concern. 


 

The visit to the zoo has left its traces in the exhibition of Maha Maamoun’s class. Many of the pieces in their exhibition address the experience of looking when visiting a zoo. One example is Pavel Matoušek’s land art painting Untitled (Pre – History). He installed an old telescope in one of the windows of the exhibition space. Through the telescope you could see him spreading 40 kilograms of flour on a field in the valley some kilometres away from the Festung. The flour attracted all kinds of birds that became part of the painting.

 

 


 

“The place was important for variety of reasons: it is visible from all around the castle, from all the tourists telescopes as well as from window of our studio. Secondly, there is a main walking path from fortress to Hellbrun around that field. And thirdly, the place itself is very pretty, with nice view from the fortress and there is a football field right next to it. With all those lines it somehow reminds me of a drawing. And of course, it is about a correct distance for the telescope.”

 

Witnessing Matoušek’s, we see an instant tableaux vivant coming into existence: an ephemeral zoo made up of ‘free’ animals. They only become the subject of our attention through the old telescope. You realize the constructedness of zoological voy.eurism.

 

On the opposite window of the exhibitions space you could find another site-specific installation. Martin Bolatti from Buenos Aires collected the sounds of orgasms of different animal species for his piece What do you see?. He edited these sounds into a soundscape. Listening to the looped track, we as viewers were invited to sit down and look out of a designated window.


 

From the window you could see the tourists visiting the Festung. The sounds of the installation turned the idyllic view on the court into another zoological experience. You instinctively connected certain sounds to the movements of passing tourists. Again the strong immersion of a zoological voy.eurism is activated and transgressed. Not only become the tourists figures of an animalistic spectacle, they at the same time remind us as viewers of our own zoological voy.eurism. Both pieces create a self-reflexive observation that poses the question how the construction of a gaze changes what you are looking at.

 

This care for the legacy of gazes was also a concern in the exhibition of Tobias Zielony’s class. Silvia Scheid’s photo series Street Studio consists of minimalist portraits of refugees in Salzburg. In contrast to press photos that show refugees in their miserable shelters and create icons of suffering,  Scheid’s photos avoid any background. She brought movable colourful background panels to the shootings. Erasing and simplifying the background allows to see her protagonists beyond their social role of refugees. Yet, oftentimes a little detail from the actual background remains uncovered. This renders visible the process of covering, too.

 

 


 

When I descend the Festung after the exhibition all these images are still on mind. Yes, gazes have a history and they have a legacy. Just as our bodies, our gazes are the result of evolutions: biological, cultural and political evolutions. As artists and writers we have to deal with these pasts and have to wonder: which gazes do our images and texts enact? Which gazes do we reproduce? Which one’s do we avoid and set free for extinction? 

17/08/15 13:10 Summer Academy 2015

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