Art Seen: International

HANNES BÖCK // SECESSION

by Tara Plath

The opening night of diverse film, video, and installation at Secession in Vienna on September 19th included the work of Hannes Böck, presented in the Grafisches Kabinett space of the galleries. For the exhibition, Böck aims his camera at the space where the Western world and non-Western world silently confront one another. Where mass mediation is sure to favor a Western perspective, Böck attempts to provide a point of access for a more critical engagement with the troubled relationship between the ignored influence of Egyptian culture on canonized Greco Roman tradition. He succeeds in creating an environment where this engagement may occur with both the material presented and the mode of mediation through the installation of his 35 millimeter film, Fünf Skulpturen aus den ägyptischen Heiligtümern im Museo del Sannio, Benevento: n. 252 Hockender Pavian, Diorit; n. 253 Falke, Amphibolit; n. 255 Falke, Gabbro; n. 256 Hockender Pavian, Diorit; n. 280 Apis-Stier, Diorit.  

Hannes Böck, Fünf Skulpturen aus den ägyptischen Heiligtümern im Museo del Sannio, Benevento: n. 252 Hockender Pavian, Diorit; n. 253 Falke, Amphibolit; n. 255 Falke, Gabbro; n. 256 Hockender Pavian, Diorit; n. 280 Apis-Stier, Diorit., installation view. Secession 2013, photo: Wolfgang Thaler

The film moves slowly and silently through a series of perspectival angles of stone sculptures. They are relics of revered animals, a bird and a squatting baboon as the title describes, once used for religious ceremonies. They are projected in a black box constructed entirely of stretched fabric. The result is a space of reverie, one that is not often afforded by Western culture to these Egyptian sculptures, which once held a place in an ancient Roman temple of Isis. While the sculptures now belong to the Museo del Sannio in Benevento, Italy, Böck has filmed them individually, spot-lit in a pitch-black space that mirrors the space of the viewers, as though the projector itself shines a light upon each object in the same room. His filming is formulaic in its use of specific camera angles and slow cuts. The film is reduced to the seemingly straight-forward characteristics of both photography and cinema, which are seldom presented in a way that allows one to give pause to their effects of drama, intimacy, and manipulation. Such a simple but thoughtful deconstruction recalls the ever-present subjectivity of historical or anthropological narratives, which always construct as much as they uncover. This fact can nearly be ignored when in the presence of the soft flutter of projector, but through the film’s enduring silence Böck begs the viewer to remain ever conscious of the romanticized medium.

Hannes Böck, Fünf Skulpturen aus den ägyptischen Heiligtümern im Museo del Sannio, Benevento: n. 252 Hockender Pavian, Diorit; n. 253 Falke, Amphibolit; n. 255 Falke, Gabbro; n. 256 Hockender Pavian, Diorit; n. 280 Apis-Stier, Diorit., 2013. Filmstill, 16mm. Secession, 2013.

The still frames are at once somber and epic. The images transform, or perhaps return, the objects to monuments. At times the close-up angles create abstract landscapes from the weathered stone. The subtle details and severe contrast of each idol, which demanded total silence from a room full of viewers, are fleeting. For upon leaving the dark room, and reflecting upon the imagery, one must also acknowledge the title: a list of anesthetic names and numbers for the sole purpose of cataloguing, at the risk of losing such insights to the archive.

Hannes Böck’s installation is one of three single-piece exhibitions currently on view at Secession in Vienna, Austria. A review of Ulla von Brandenburg’s exhibition will follow this piece. Both exhibitions run through November 10, 2013.




Tara Plath
 is an artist and writer working out of Chicago, Il. She recently received a Bachelors of Fine Arts with an emphasis in sculpture and a Bachelors of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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