mumok—Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien presents "mixed up with others before we even begin" from November 26, 2022 to April 10, 2023.
The featured artists interact with works from the mumok collection as well as objects from the Natural History Museum Vienna. The merging of their works with museum artifacts highlights hybridization tactics as an efficient strategy, not only in the creative but also in the societal and political arenas. Before we even begin, mixed up with others investigates historical-cultural processes of mixing as a strategy of avoiding unchanging monoculture and countering dominant concepts of infection and contamination with something positive. It includes both cordial encounters and gatherings, as well as the furious collision of opposites.
Leilah Babirye’s sculptures celebrate the contradiction between local traditions and the global setting by juxtaposing African traditional art with Western modernism. In this conversation, she uses exclusionary devices on both sides. The artist appropriates the exoticizing vision of African iconography that was prominent in sophisticated early twentieth century European art circles by incorporating works of classical modernism from the mumok collection into her queer army of lovers.
Nilbar Güreş’s art, which she grew up in Turkey, is concerned with the psychological and social limits imposed by heteronormativity and manifested in the biological and social categories of woman and man. She hilariously emphasizes how essential the subject of sexual orientation or preference and the interaction between the sexes is in this setting in a sculpture created just for the exhibition—a sort of information tree.
In the case of Peruvian-born Nicolás Lamas, it is the interfaces and fractures between art, science, technology, and ordinary culture that are of interest. The artist works with a collection of partially found, partly self-made objects and images that he reassembles into ever-changing ensembles. His works converge with objects from the Natural History Museum Vienna in the exhibition, making the ossified categories of art and science porous.
Mariana Castillo Deball, a Mexican-born artist, is usually drawn to things when researching varied subjects such as her country’s pre-Hispanic history, mathematical models, or fables, myths, and other types of literature. She asks these “non-humans,” as she refers to her chosen objects, what they have to say about the world—a world we humans create around them, one we manipulate, define, and whose objects we utilize in various ways.
Slavs and Tatars, a Berlin-based collective, addresses and performs multilingualism. They deconstruct the notion of culture as something connected to a nation-state, religion, or language in their artistic practice committed to the social and cultural circumstances of the landscape “east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China.” Syncretism becomes a principle in this case. Slavs and Tatars combine their own language-based works with those from the collection that deal with body parts as an emotive, sensuous component of language in the exhibition.
Before we even begin, artists Anetta Mona Chişa and Lucia Tkáčová, who grew up in Romania and Slovakia, are responsible for the exhibition architecture of mixed up with others. The ruins of this display, which was designed for the previous exhibition Collaborations, serve as both the conceptual and spatial context for the current show. In addition, the duo presents a site-specific intervention that unfolds in the exhibition rooms like a mycelium. It spreads to the point where the fungus transforms the name of the museum written on the striking black building’s façade: “museum moderner kunst stiftung ludwig wien” anagrammatically changes to “let fungi guru wisdom meet minds turn us new,” allowing plenty of room for new interpretations.
Participating artists: Leilah Babirye, Mariana Castillo Deball, Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová, Nilbar Güreş, Nicolás Lamas, Slavs and Tatars—with works from the mumok collection and objects from the collections of the Natural History Museum Vienna
Curated by Franz Thalmair.