ART IS. 25 years of Kunst Meran Merano Arte
Artists: Claudia Barcheri, Christian Bazant-Hegemark, Maria CM Hilber, Hannes Egger, Barbara Gamper, Vanessa Hanni, Emilian Hinteregger, Erika Hock, Zora Kreuzer, Oliver Laric, Roberta Lima, Rosmarie Lukasser, Eva Mair, Selene Magnolia, Simone Salvatore Melis, Ludovic Nkoth, Bernd Oppl, Quayola, Rita Slodička, Ludwig Thalheimer, Maria Walcher, Letizia Werth
Curators: Valerio Dehò, Luigi Fassi, Sabine Gamper, Andreas Kofler, Günther Oberhollenzer, Magdalene Schmidt, Anne Schloen, Susanne Waiz
Kunst Meran – a private association for the arts, founded 25 years ago and active as a municipal arthouse under the Meran arcades for 20 years now – has, for this anniversary, invited eight curators to examine the role of art in the present day. These curators have worked with Kunst Meran over the past 25 years, and all have now enthusiastically signed up to the concept of a chorale exhibition for the anniversary.
On 16 August 1972, Vilém and Edith Flusser moved into an attic apartment in the Obermais district of Meran. For three years, this apartment on the outskirts of the city with its view of the Texel mountains was home to Vilém Flusser, media philosopher and communication theorist, the starting point for travels through Europe and a writing room for producing his work. For Edith and Vilém Flusser, Meran was a transition between their leaving Brazil and their return to Europe, simultaneously a place of commitment and of retreat.
In a letter of 23 January 1976 to his friend, the artist Regina Klaber Thusek who, like Flusser, was of Jewish descent and had fled to London from the Nazis in the 1930s, ultimately being banished to Meran by the Fascists, Flusser wrote that works of art are proposals for future experience. This sentence was part of a dialogue that the two had been having for some time about the relationship between beauty and kitsch: Flusser argued that kitsch could be explained as something pleasant and familiar, while beauty, as a new proposal, has yet to be learned and is thus unpleasant.
This quotation, which is directly related to Meran’s recent cultural history, now forms – 45 years after he formulated it – the starting point for the exhibition ART IS.
Vilém Flusser’s stay in Meran was essential for the theories that he developed in the 1970s and 1980s. Country and city, mountain and plain are opposites that increasingly gain in importance in Flusser’s pair of terms, dialogue and discourse: Flusser also always preferred diversity to unity. Numerous approaches to his theories can be linked to the questions of themed exhibitions at Kunst Meran, the current artistic discourse and the art association’s own self-image. The fact that his extensive writings were partly formulated in Meran can happily be placed at the starting point of this anniversary exhibition. Meran, an international spa town in the midst of a region that, despite the two world wars and two totalitarian regimes, in the very years of his stay achieved a model of autonomy, inspired Flusser through its multilingualism, its eventful history, its internationality and its geographical location. For Kunst Meran, too, this heritage has always defined the terms of reference for an ambitious, interdisciplinary programme.
Last but not least, with this exhibition Kunst Meran is attempting to reflect on its own past, present and future. Many years of intensive cooperation with experts from the fields of art, architecture and more have influenced the exhibition activities conducted over its 20-year history. This aspect has now become in equal measure the form and method of the anniversary project, finding its expression in a many-voiced result.
From 17 July to 24 October, therefore, Valerio Dehò, Luigi Fassi, Sabine Gamper, Günther Oberhollenzer, Andreas Kofler, Anne Schloen, Magdalene Schmidt and Susanne Waiz will jointly present their proposals for future experience through art and architecture.
While, after the pandemic-imposed restrictions on visits to exhibitions and museums, art has only superficially been sidelined over the last year, its voice is now increasingly lacking in society and its visionary power once more urgently needed. Flusser’s statement that works of art are proposals for future experience is compressed into the exhibition title ART IS. and postulates its social value.
Seven sections are transformed into one grand show, one voice. Current issues such as the role of women in society, migration, digitisation, social justice or spatial planning will be addressed by the curators and 18 artists. The show is like a burning glass that can help us see the present and the future in a multifaceted way, all through the lens of art and architecture.