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Matthias Schönweger JANUS

Opening: 19.09.2014, 19:00
Duration: 20.09.2014 - 09.01.2015
Artists: Matthias Schönweger
Curator: Valerio Dehò

The exhibition project "JANUS - 1914 and No End in Sight" commemorates World War I, 100 years ago, taking the opportunity to make a pacifist and anti-militarist statement with regard to all the wars of the past and present century. Matthias Schönweger deliberately chose the two-faced Roman God Janus as a symbol and title of the exhibition, as he sees the past and the present at the same time.

The exhibition comprises various works. There are historical documents such as the important collection of original photographs of Merano when World War I broke out, but also assemblages - some of which are ironic in nature - of gifts, souvenirs, articles of daily use such as plates and glasses, cemetery sculptures, postcards and pieces of clothing, all of which do not only represent the unmistakable style of the artist, but form a true archive of historical records. Schönweger starts from the idea that art lets man overcome hatred and military violence: art can sublime the horrors of war, the suffering and the bloodshed of thousands of people.
Nevertheless, the artist's irony does not cover up the merciless historical events, but resists oblivion.
An important part of the exhibition is the artist's long-term project that is devoted to the bunkers of World War II all over South Tyrol. Over the years, Schönweger has acquired 50 of those bunkers and turned them into small museums of all sorts by compiling and re-using finds again and again. Matthias Schönweger keeps collecting elements that form a museum in themselves, ranging from the history of South Tyrol to our present days, with their endless production of objects.

Catalogue: Edition Rætia

Matthias Schönweger (1949, Partschins, South Tyrol) lives and works in Merano, unless he is traveling.  He studied German philology, Italian, history, art, and philosophy at various universities, and he did his doctorate in Comparative Literary Studies with a historico-cultural dissertation on Merano around the year nineteen hundred and beyond. Over the past years, the artist has held several exhibitions at home and abroad. In the art scene of South Tyrol, Schönweger is considered one of the most versatile artists: a man of letters, a performer, etc. He develops works of the most different kinds by playing and analyzing language and objects.
His irony is characteristic for Schönweger. He brilliantly adds a grotesque touch to his works of art by using even the crassest kitsch for them. One could also call him a conceptual artist and a global poet. He reflects the history of stories from the past and present, converting them into soft still lifes made out of words and images. One of his best known publications is a trilogy (Skarabaeus and Edition Raetia). Each of the three volumes comprises more than 600 pages and includes not only contributions by curators and critics, but also reflects the oeuvre of Schönweger.


October 8:
Lecture and discussion: "Memorials - yes or no"
Lecturers: Hans Heiss, historian, Renato des Dorides, Captain of the Schützenkompanie [gunmen squad] Merano
Host: Matthias Schönweger
7.00 p.m., visit to the exhibition
8.00 p.m., lecture

October 11
Visit the exhibition together with the artist
on occasion of the Day of Contemporary Art AMACI.
Host: Hannes Egger.
11 a. m.

November 5:
Lecture and discussion: "What is worth fighting for? God, emperor, homeland..."
Lecturers: Don Mario Gretter, Josef Feichtinger, man of letters
Host: Matthias Schönweger
7.00 p.m., visit to the exhibition
8.00 p.m., lecture

Foto Installation