eSeL Foto: Über das Neue - Wiener Szenen und darüber hinaus (Belvedere 21, 6.4.2023 - 14.1.2024)
The more the better – isn't it? I don't feel this way. The exhibition "On the New. Viennese Scenes and Beyond" was opened at Belvedere21 on Thursday last week. There were many remarkable artworks and the exhibition design seemed like a great concept. But I have to admit that it just didn't work for me. It felt like a middle ground between an art fair and a group show, with neighboring works that were adjacent only in the physical space without much meaningful interaction. As I chatted with folks at the exhibition, my attention was brought to different aspects of the exhibition. One insight was a poor light situation, one unitarian light felt indifferent to artworks, like not hearing them. Good lighting would have created a better flow throughout the space. Another observation was a lack of dialogue between the artworks. Sure, the idea to invite different art spaces and let them “speak for themselves” is nice. Still, a common thread that tied the works together - apart from the exhibition architecture - was missing.
To be honest, I don’t get the title. Belvedere21 refers to the current exhibition "On the New. Viennese Scenes and Beyond" as a continuation of the 2019’s show "On the New. Young Scenes in Vienna", emphasizing the broader scope beyond Vienna. Curators reflect on the title themselves providing us with thoughts of "polyphonic tracing" of the "new" as presenting "an image of a growing entity without beginning or end, in perpetual flux." To me, this sounds too abstract and unclear – what is new? During my first visit, I could hear only a cacophony.
The frame program of the exhibition is a "community outreach" that was truly delivered. The space was full of good vibes, and it felt cool to dance in the museum. This left a sweet feeling after the opening. It made me also wonder if museums are starting to shift their focus towards communities’ hunger for visibility, or whether that’s just pretty decoration. I hope museums can find a respectful ground for collaboration with different communities. Belvedere21 is one of the most committed and experienced in the field.
My critique is based on my initial impression, and I'm definitely planning to visit the exhibition again, taking a closer look at the artworks displayed. I'm also looking forward to seeing what Belvedere21 has in store for their "community outreach" accompanying program.