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13 March 2018

Exercising democracy! Political art seen at 'Power To The People' at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and at 'Shaping Democracy' at Q21 at MuseumsQuartier Vienna

Two exhibitions - one at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (Germany), the other at Q21 at Museumsquartier Vienna (Austria), are inviting visitors to experience, discuss and practise the involvement into 'Democracy' - this form of polity is a (high-)cultural achievement for the people's self-governing. In some countries, the practise seems to function well; in others, elected politicians are obviously overwhelmed by the power given by the people into the hands of political parties. And sometimes, it's not immediately clear if the people's borrowed power is abused or not.

From 21 March until 27 May 2018 at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, the exhibition 'Power To The People. Political Art Now' presents 43 art works (paintings, installations, film, photography,...) for throwing light from different angles on the international political landscape. Schirn defines our times as critical phase of a 'post-democracy' where everything is possible and can have negative or positive effects on society. Tendentially, Schirn monitors a positive 're-politicization' which is also reflected by artists such as 'The Sleepers' by Adelita Husni-Bey. The painting shows in-active politicians in a conference room. Husni-Bey's horror vision of work-shy politicians who paralyze a whole country is the product of researches on Western societies. The image was used as protest-poster during the Arab Spring in Libya.

fig.: 'The Sleepers' by Adelita Husni-Bey, 2012. Oil on canvas 165 x 350 cm, private collection Italy. © The artist, Courtesy Galleria Laveronica, Modica.

Dr. Philipp Demandt, Director of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, about the exhibition: "Recently, we have experienced art's return to the political. The artists appear as seismographs in these politically eventful times. The exhibition Power to the People: Political Art Now also touches on the question of how political art is permitted to or should be. This is a question that we have to ask again and again at all times."

From 22 March until 3 June at Q21 at MuseumsQuartier Vienna,'shaping democracy – the republic in 24 frames per century' invites with 24 short films in 8 categories (identity, relationship with authority, Fourth Estate, between provincialism and internationality, memorial culture, culture nation and myths, migration and integration, welfare state) visitors to the exploration of their own view (built from individual memory) on the Republic of Austria and the perception of others (collective memory) on the country's current political status quo. The exhibition is organized on occasion of the 100th year anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Austria. One of the aims of this exhibition is the participation of citizens as co-creators of our nation for co-developing strategies for - at the first sight seemingly unimportant, issues such as a traffic concept like thematized at Johann Lurf’s art-documentary 'Kreis Wr. Neustadt' with critical view on the transport policy in Lower Austria. The film will be presented under the topic 'Between the Provincial and the International'.

Transport policy is a relatively small mirror-mosaic of a society but represents very well the idea that a whole nation can only be stabilized by taking care of the life of the individual. Democracy today means when politicians are unwilling to do their work, the responsibility for a secure and functioning state lies heavier on the shoulders of the people.

fig.: 'A to A / Kreis Wr. Neustadt' by Johann Lurf, Austria 2011; 05:00 film still. © Johann Lurf.

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