Britta Benno exhibits works from the series made especially for the residency in Vienna, though it derives from the city-specific works the artist have done in Tallinn, too. The series of adapted paintings combined with drawings and other graphics, titled “Dystopic Austria”, depicts urban landscapes after the imagined extinction of human beings.

Paintings bought at flea markets in Vienna were appropriated by the artist and modified through the techniques of collage and manual montage. These works can be described as hybrid historical paintings for the future. The artist places images of buildings – reproductions, drawings, etc. – in Biedermeier-like kitschy landscapes of the existing paintings. Images of houses, people, and other figures, which these re-used paintings once contained, were erased, deleted, and overpainted. Their absence highlights the all-conquering power of nature. The depicted buildings are recognisable – they are the ones currently symbolizing power, culture, money, tradition, religion, business, and other institutions. The works remind us that sometime in the future all those buildings may lose their meaning and become old ruins – leftovers of once powerful civilisations. The aesthetics of the images might even evoke a ‘romantic’ kind of nostalgia. What could be described as ‘Ruinenlust’ – the excitement or pleasure that comes from seeing old ruins – reveals a self-ironic stance, common in contemporary societies.

In a more sinister way, the project points out the negligence and destruction of the environment and nature achieved through the still withstanding capitalist system. The popular media and news reports present us with dystopic imaginary on daily basis. Yet, one rarely dares to ask: Have we become completely desensitised? Are we oblivious enough not to be shaken out of the common complacency even when it is demonstrated how tiny and powerless we really are? Benno aims to open up these questions and present us with her specific stack of pessimism, feelings of angst, and personal fears which are, sadly, often relatable and not unknown to the viewer.

Text written: Eva Kovač


Works by Artists in Residence: Presentation 4/2018
The Austrian Federal Chancellery and KulturKontakt Austria extend a cordial invitation to an exhibition of works by artists-in-residence. These artists are presenting their works in the exhibition at the exhibition space of the Austrian Federal Chancellery on Concordiaplatz: the artist duo Karolina Balcer and Iwona Ogrodzka(Poland), Heather Beardsley (USA), Britta Benno (Estonia), Carina Emery(Switzerland), Demetris Shammas (Cyprus) and Erdem Taşdelen (Canada/Turkey).

At the opening, the art historian and coordinator of Corators´Agenda at BLOCKFREI, Eva Kovač, will offer guided tours.

The Austrian Federal Chancellery, in cooperation with KKA, offers scholarships for residencies in Vienna. The scholarships are funded by the Federal Chancellery within the framework of the Artists in Residence programme and are organised and implemented by KKA, which also provides support and advice to the scholarship winners.

Vernissage: 4 December 2018, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Exhibition duration: 4. – 13 December 2018
Exhibition space of the Austrian Federal Chancellery:
Concordiaplatz 2, 1010 Vienna