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17 June 2016

Vienna Insight by Karin Sawetz: Watchmaker Bell & Ross invited to the art space and bar 'OFF IS'

Two days ago on 15 June, I followed the invitation of Swiss (manufactory)-French (headquarters) watchmaker Bell & Ross on occasion of the pre-opening of the pop-up art space with included bar 'OFF IS' and shot some images at the event at the second and fourth floor at Traungasse 12 in the city's 3rd district. The art space isn't ready yet (official opening on 23 June) and the installation of wires and lights was still on-going. Ladders and tools like gimlets on the floor were the first impressions of OFF IS. The some meters long 'under construction'-entry leads to a light-floated space of a former large open-plan office with wide windows, archaic cement walls and - very surprisingly - a cocktail bar; the bar was on that day managed by Philipp M. Ernst who served cocktails like the summer blue one on view at the embedded post below.

My first station was the presentation of the new Bell & Ross collection with pieces which premiered recently in Basel. The label is known for interpretations of historic and contemporary styles of pilots and aircrafts; some of the designs are directly inspired by elements of cockpits. The BR 03 Desert Type's sand color for example (on view at the image right, first row), references the outfits of pilots on desert missions, and the form of the case with the easily readable numbers on the dial is designed after analogue aviation counters of aircraft cockpits.

After the presentation, I tried out a cocktail by Philipp M. Ernst and met the art couple 'Hanakam & Schuller'. Both studied at Erwin Wurm at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. We spoke about their photographic work 'Pink Thoughts' which shows a hand in a white fabric glove how it's used by art historians at museums when they handle with expensive old master paintings. But the fingers at the image are holding not a Tizian or Caravaggio but a closure of an everyday product like floor or window cleaner. The artists explained that everyday creations like the design of a closure are often unnoticed - just like the work which is associated with a home cleaner product. The media artists told me that the 'Pink Thoughts' photographic work is accompanied by a video which shows typical hand movements.

I moved further through the space for speaking with some colleagues from media and met coincidentally South Tyrolian (Italy) artist Sven Sachsalber who lives currently in New York and came here for the exhibition of the chess game-like decorated chair. He told me that the chair pays homage to Wiener Werkstätte and was exclusively created for the OFF IS art event in Vienna. The chair was on view two floors above the first exhibition space. The image above left shows me behind the chair and in front of the mirror wall (with writings of typical terms used by the porno industry) by Sofia Goscinski.

The room with mirror wall and chair was one of the hot spots on that day; exhibition curator Angela Stief took a seat at Sven Sachsalber's work. The independent curator collected for OFF IS around 30 artists who represent the current contemporary art scene. And they do it with wit and chic.

The artists at OFF IS (until 31 July) are Sasha Auerbakh, Renate Bertlmann, Anna-Maria Bogner, Kirsten Borchert, Bernhard Buhmann, Maria Bussmann, Marco Dessi, Dejan Dukic, Christian Eisenberger, Sofia Goscinski, Martin Grandits, Hanakam & Schuller, Siggi Hofer, Anna Jermolaewa, Krüger/Pardeller, Kris Lemsalu, Angelika Loderer, Claudia Märzendorfer, Klaus Mosettig, Sven Sachsalber, Peter Sandbichler, Toni Schmale, Anneliese Schrenk, Michael Strasser, Ali Emir Tapan, Klaus-Martin Treder, Jannis Varelas, Lucas Zallmann.


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