The Austrian Cultural Forum New York is pleased to present DIS-PLAY / RE-PLAY. A group exhibition examining the roles of artistic and architectural display in the context of the ACFNY’s unusual exhibition space, DIS-PLAY / RE-PLAY coincides with the 40th anniversary of Brian O’Doherty’s seminal essay series, “Inside the White Cube.” On view from May 4 to September 5, 2016, DIS-PLAY / RE-PLAY will present a series of installations by six international artists that respond to the striking character of the ACFNY’s architecture, creating a dialogue between the works, the building, and the viewer.
First published as three essays in Artforum in 1976, “Inside the White Cube” argues that the pristine, sterile style dominating exhibition spaces has itself become a driving factor in the conceptualization and execution of art. This artificial, ostensibly neutral setting, akin to both a showroom and a church, functions as an ideological and aesthetic proposition by presenting artworks as isolated, autonomous commodities. The Austrian Cultural Forum New York’s headquarters, a marvel of urban and architectural ingenuity in its own right, is far from a typical white cube. Its narrow dimensions and multilevel exhibition space—dominated by a prominent glass staircase and chrome elevator—provide a singular curatorial challenge. Bucking contemporary art’s trend toward increasingly sprawling venues, which present ever more numerous and larger-scale artworks, DIS-PLAY / RE-PLAY embraces the contingent nature of artmaking and an attention to site. The confines of the ACFNY become both a challenge and an opportunity for individual artistic positions.
Works in the show include Parallax City, a new “rope drawing” by Brian O’Doherty that transforms the ACFNY’s main gallery (and most traditional exhibition space) into an immersive field of surfaces and color, in which the geometric lines of rope and wall painting are activated through the viewer’s movement. In the building’s lobby, Gerwald Rockenschaub installs an angled plexiglass composition that mimics the colors of the Austrian flag, both responding to and hijacking the building’s native architectural gestures. In the lower mezzanine gallery, Judith Barry shows a new version of They Agape, a two-channel video installation set to 1970s punk rock that tracks the intense interpersonal dynamics and dialogue of two women architects. Continuing his investigations into exhibition display, management structures, and personal practice, Martin Beck presents a two-floor installation that features his digital “notebook” pages in their first public appearance. Hermes Payrhuber’s Ode to the Rope with a Knot with a Hole, for Thomas Bernhard transforms the upper gallery into a kaleidoscopic room with a series of spatial interventions made out of steel sculptures. Investigating the performative potential of the ACFNY’s double-height wall, Mika Tajima’s work spans two interior floors with an installation that combines a finely-detailed wallpaper with a series of plexiglass “furniture art,” playfully transforming the building’s character to suggest new possibilities for interaction within the space.
The exhibition is accompanied by a newsprint publication designed by Project Projects that features the artists’ works, installation views, and reprints of key texts on exhibition display by Judith Barry, Martin Beck, and Brian O’Doherty.