Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Vienna: No One Is Innocent + Derek Jarman

Punk: No One is Innocent exhibit in Vienna; photo by Val PhoenixBack after a brief absence of 20 years in Vienna, I find I recognise nothing. But at least the weather´s good and there is plenty to see, starting with two exhibits at the Kunsthalle.

Punk: No One Is Innocent views punk through the eyes of three great metropolises dear to me: New York, London and Berlin. Entering the gallery, one sees first the offerings from London: portraits of urban wasteland and the dandies who frequented the Blitz club. These are supplemented by displays of the usual suspects: Sex Pistols/McLaren/Westwood.

But there is little to entice except for some intriguing work by Linder, who fronted the band Ludus and made some brilliant album covers. Her critiques of male and female magazines are still fresh.

New York is also on the grimy side, with Richard Kern`s exploitation film Fingered given an airing, as well as some installations by various musician/artist types such as Alan Vega. Still not really piquing my interest.

The Berlin section, however, is where things really pick up with exciting musical/artistic and political connections being made. After so much male-oriented art, it was a pleasure to see work made by women. Upstairs was a kind of Frauenecke peopled by visual art by Elvira Bach and the rest of the space taken up by art bands Mania D and Malaria!, springing from the Geniale Dilletanten scene of the late `70s.

There was a lot more on the GD across the room, also upstairs, with DVDs of concerts and books scattered about in a kind of punk rock reading room. Someone had even scrawled a very punk comment on the display. In response to the question: what was punk like in Vienna, this person had crossed out the past tense and rendered it in the present. Punk lives in Vienna, as elsewhere.

Also on at the Kunsthalle is Derek Jarman: Brutal Beauty, curated by Isaac Julien. Here one can relax into giant scatter cushions to watch Derek, Julien's oh-so-arty but affecting doc on his mentor Jarman, look at numerous TV screens showing clips from Jarman's films, gaze at the filmmaker's visual art, created at his Dungeness retreat or ponder Julien's own visual tributes.

A most peculiar and oddly sparse exhibit. But I quite enjoyed the doc, even if Tilda Swinton and Julien appear to wander rather cluelessly through it.

Punk: No One Is Innocent through 7 September.
Derek Jarman: Brutal Beauty through 5 October.

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