Wien Kunst

Unafraid of emotionalism

Künstlerhaus, one of the oldest artist associations in the country, with nearly 500 artistic members, all diverse in terms of age, gender, artistic media, forms of expression, has since October 2022 a new artistic director – Günther Oberhollenzer.
 Günther Oberhollenzer, Leitung das Wiener Künstlerhaus
Günther Oberhollenzer, Leitung das Wiener Künstlerhaus. Foto: Tim Cavadini

The curator and art manager is known for his ample curatorial work and for the many stations he has made in his career from Essl Museum to Landesgalerie Niederösterreich Krems to countless curated shows in museums and galleries in Austria as well as many in South Tyrol, Italy, where he originally comes. The new program announcement comes almost seven months late after the handover and takes off in the new position. 

As he explains, there was no point in rushing. Before making decisions, the primar goal of Oberhollenzer was to familiarize himself with the particularities of the new house and its status quo, getting to know the members and the audiences. To run an institution, you need to exchange knowledge intensively and have the ability to involve those around you in the processes. For all this was taken time. 

Künstlerhaus, Gesellschaft bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler Österreichs
Künstlerhaus, Gesellschaft bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler Österreichs

Further Considerations
Oberhollenzer wants to give a clear signature to the institution, push further boundaries, and thus set new accents. Another important goal, in his view, is to provide the institution with a new visibility in the sense of a presence in the city.

Therefore different measures are being taken. Also, in terms of curating the exhibitions and all that it will come will be not made for the curator’s colleagues, but for the audiences. And that, he emphasizes, will also be a criterion for the guest curators. Oberhollenzer’s first curated exhibition at this house will be this October. Systemrelevant, a big group show will be featuring artistic positions like Daniella Pamp, Soli Kiani, Xenia Lesniewski. Based on the concept of „systemically related culture“, which has been discussed in a variety of ways in the recent years, Oberhollenzer would like to encourage artists and visitors to think about the value of art for the society. Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, documenta and Biennale artist has been chosen from Oberhollenzer also as a crucial position in this show. Opportunities abroad are also constantly seized. 

Some of the existing formats remain. They are simply refreshed. A new feature is that Oberhollenzer brings collectors back into the Künstlerhaus and involves them in exhibition projects. Collectors already shown their art collection in the early days. In 2023 two outstanding artists will be presented, Maria Legat and Herbert Brandl. All works are from private collections. The cooperation with the Stadtkino im Künstlerhaus will be continued and also micro-exhibition formats with different artists and cooperation partners.

Künstlerhaus, Gesellschaft bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler Österreichs
Danielle Pamp, Diva in Quarantine, 2020. From 4.10. in the exhibition SYSTEMRELEVANT at the Künstlerhaus

Upcoming Exhibition
The annual exhibition of Association members, a quite new tradition at Künstlerhaus Wien, will this year be curated by Maria Christine Holter and Julia Hartmann – both independent curators, the title of the show is“Human Nature“. One can see that there’s a new era also in dealing with the member exhibitions. Oberhollenzer: Very often, this large members‘ exhibition was conceived as something very „internal“. We want to change that. The artistic positions selected by the curators range from Romano Hagyo and Silke Maier-Gamauf to Denise Schellmann and Alberto Storari. 

Künstlerhaus 2024
Plans have been forged, and decisions have been made also for the upcoming year. The first exhibition of 2024 year will be curated by Nina Schedlmayer. Current working title Auf den Schultern von Riesinnen (On the shoulders of giantesses). Then follows a Wunderkammer show, which works with the old principles of the Wunderkammer, but is conceived with contemporaneous media in art such as sound, acoustics, and lots of emotions. Oberhollenzer wants to speak in an understandable language and create exhibitions that reach people in their everyday reality. They will be profound, but close to real life and unfearful of emotionalism. It remains to follow the program and feel the new wind. 

Erka Shalari was born in Tirana (AL) in 1988. She studied Industrial Psychology at Tirana State University and Cultural Management at MDW, Institute of Cultural Management, in Vienna. She relies on unorthodox publishing practices, coupling these with a nonchalant manner of writing. Editor of Les Nouveaux Riches magazine since 2020 –