O: I am not excited.
‘I am not really excited’, was Dabernig’s first reaction upon seeing the space Significant Other currently inhabits. Admittedly, the space is not exactly an artist’s dreamland. Anyway, after a somewhat awkward silence Dabernig began imagining how the space could be altered, which surfaces and materials needed to be changed and how one should deal with all the disturbing elements - and he actually got excited. Intervening into the architecture and perception of the intricate space, Dabernig creates a framework not only for his own contribution but also for the following exhibitions, which altogether will constitute the first trilogy of Significant Other.
In a way one could say that the exhibition behaves like a highly condensed retrospective, evolving out of three key moments. Starting with very early works from ’74-75, preceding academic formation and despite the unexpected expressive aesthetics, already hinting to some essential Dabernigian strategies, depicting a variety of Italian façades and urban scenes, often composed into fantastical cityscapes either recalled from memory, photos taken during numerous summer trips, touristic leaflets Dabernig would order by mail from the Italian Tourism center in Vienna or Pasolini movies shown at the soft porn cinema in Innsbruck. A strategy of desire, Dabernig calls it. From there we leap to a large format work of ’84, created as a result of a residency in Torvaianica, near Rome, which defines the starting point for the systematic, precise and somewhat distant but also humorous approach Dabernig became known for and eventually leading to the most recent and site-specific work which is embodied in the spatial intervention that nonchalantly and confidently unifies, by actually highlighting all which is by definition undesirable in our minds, which have been taken hostage by the white cube for a long time now.
Vajd and Mendoza on the other hand literally meet on the façade. The former usually dedicated to post-conceptual photography, the latter preoccupied with materializing ideas to sculptures, they find common grounds in creating a collaborative drawing, let’s call it a signboard, for Significant Other. Leaving the existing graffiti intact, they place two female figures merging into one whole, two distinct materials, referencing two idiosyncratic sets of ideas where the one could ultimately not exist without the other. If this is signage for Significant Other, it stands for the unequivocal influence we have on each other, but also the responsibility of support and care this entails - the ‘we’ ranging from nationalities, institutions to disciplines and ultimately us as single entities.
Complexity, Contradiction and a Decorated Shed
Josef Dabernig, Aleksandra Vajd & Jimena Mendoza