Dual Use : When a town is under influence

My comment on Franz Wanner´s works translated into English, based on his live discourse with Daniela Stoeppel Munich 20/04/2015.

Franz Wanner, Dual-Use, opening at the PLATFORM Munich, 02/10/2015.
Franz Wanner, Dual-Use, opening at the PLATFORM Munich, 02/10/2015.

The German artist Franz Wanner has been awarded the 7,500€ prize for emerging art of the Kunstclub 13 at the PLATFORM in Munich, who is going to represent him in the future. He is currently working on the term “Dual-Use”, and looks at products and academic research which is used for military objectives. The initiative for his new project was lit by his earlier work.

Earlier this year Franz’s innovative new media work has been exhibited at the Rathausgalerie | Kunsthalle in Munich. I attend a public evening conversation between Franz Wanner and Dr. Daniela Stoppel.

Although his works carry meaning in themselves, it is Franz Wanner’s voice who renders them into contemporary objects. The conversation took place in the centre of a space-consuming installation.

.    150 photographs  / large-scale objects / two sound loops / three video art works

This exhibition “Eine Stadt unter Einfluss” (A Town under Influence) resembles a precisely arranged collage of works. Before exhibiting them in Munich, they were shown in the basis e.V. Frankfurt, in the Museum fuer Photographie in Braunschweig, and at the Muenchner Stadtmuseum, entitled “Gift – Gegengift. Krankheitsbilder einer Stadt” (Toxin – Antitoxin. Clinical Pictures of a town).

Owing to the still in-tact fountain inside of the neo-gothic exhibition centre, the Rathausgalerie turned out to be an ideal location for Wanner´s exhibition in Munich. In the middle of the room – to the right of the audience of the discourse – was a small selection of already historic objects imported from the Bad Toelzer health spa: entrances and handholds of water slides, a drilling corn, the fountain, etc.

Further details of the bath’s interior are embedded within the photographs – hung up around the installations. Single words, captured with the aid of photographs, reconstructed newspaper articles, dark corners in which videoworks are presented, as well as a sound-work of narrative episodes about Olga Aschenbach. Gabriele Gast, Thomas Mann and Neil Young speak for themselves. And for Franz Wanner.

The exhibition makes clear that photographs do not necessarily rely on titles and explanations, but are self-referential documents. The frameless, nailless curatorial approach highlights a smooth approach towards the art objects and their making. Despite this encoded message, Wanner also pointed out at this evening that some visitors of the exhibition looked for heavy-worded description on the walls next to the works. Here I started to ask myself again: what do people accept as facts? photos? films? newspaper articles? radio programmes? novels?

Instead of integrating German contemporary history and art into written documentation in the public discourse at the Rathausgalerie, Franz and Daniela decided to make the audience aware of how cultural interest and understanding is equally provoked without written words. At this talk, the concept of the creation of meaning within an exhibition centre realised itself through a personalised narration of a bigger picture.

.            pictures                  /         objects              /              sound             /                video

Franz re-narrated how he travelled through the history of his own home town: the municipality first market itself as a Bavarian beer city, in the nineteenth century as a recreation centre, and during WWII it provided space for a satellite Nazi camp with about 200 forced labourers, who mostly not known by name today. Conversations with others and archives provided him with primary and secondary sources. During the conservation with Daniela Stoeppel, it was of particular importance to the artist to point out that the German mainstream media restricts itself. In particular, it does not tell its readers that the town Bad Toeltz has been an important location for the German arms industry up to today. Injecting this fact into the public discourse is what matters in Franz Wanner’s current exhibition Dual-Use at the PLATFORM.

The juxtaposition and melange of facts (e.g. in the form of exhibited newspaper articles) and fiction (video and sound work) in Franz´s A Town under Influence at the Rathausgallerie earlier this year provided space and time for a required public discourse. With dismissing text-based interpretations in his exhibition shows that the visitor of the exhibition needs to read each picture – as s/he would if it were a text – in order to shape her/is own opinion. Time and calmness are required to reach a state of independent looking and thinking.

Bridging a subjective and collective reflection on Bad Toelz through sound-picture-narrative work awakens a similar state within the consumers of art, as the Bad Toelzer healing waters do – they place the bodies of their visitors into a relaxed synaesthetic state of harmony. But I am wondering, for how long is this going to last?

Franz Wanner, Eine Stad
Franz Wanner, A town under Influence, Munich, 2015.

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