2018 Kunsthalle wien Exhibition
Death to Pigs is the first comprehensive retrospective in Europe dedicated to Canadian artist Ydessa Hendeles. Her practice is characterised by the fusion of experiences, accounts, and interpretations. Her compositions develop independent narratives and convey reflections on belonging, otherness, and exclusion. Her work tells a history of the 20th century that reflects on how personal as well as national identities have been established over time.
Hendeles’s work is closely linked to her own biography as the daughter of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Canada in the early 1950s. The narratives she develops in her artworks are both universal and specific—they deal with subjects such as loss and alienation, and invite viewers to find or forge a connection.
In her artistic practice, Hendeles not only reflects on her own life and myriad experiences, but also alludes to basic forms of universal understanding. She examines mechanisms of social inclusion and exclusion, and their relation to perceptions of “otherness”. The philosopher Zygmunt Bauman described modernisation as a process that has not only led to rationalisation and individual freedom, but also to control and social marginalisation. According to Bauman, the onset of industrialisation generated a new world order that did not facilitate integration of all social groups. Instead, supposed “otherness” became reason for indeterminate fears.
Regressive tendencies in contemporary politics and society generate widely discussed notions of “foreignness” and “otherness”. Populist and conservative parties as well as identitarian movements propagate ideas of alleged cultural identity as an assumed simplification of complex connections. Hendeles’s works remind us of the dialectics of social evolutions, and encourage us to learn from history. In her works, she looks back on the past to comment on our future, a future that can only be understood through its global interconnectedness.
Ydessa Hendeles’s oeuvre is informed by topics such as collection and recollection, and inspired by cabinets of curiosities as well as the associated quest for traces of the past. The artist frequently works with found, often historical, objects and artefacts, which she integrates into an exhibition context or combines in complex, expansive installations. By using the “exhibition as a medium”, Hendeles not only questions the role of the artist, curator, and collector, but also puts their relationships in the present art system to the test.
The exhibition, on display in both halls of the Kunsthalle Wien Museumsquartier, weaves some of the central complexes of works the artist has created over the past thirteen years into a multi-layered narrative. The title of the exhibition derives from the installation Death to Pigs (2015–2016), presented in the upper exhibition hall. The work draws on the metaphor of the pig, showing how concepts and ideas about the animal have evolved and changed through cultural history—from fairy tale stories and religious contexts to murders carried out by the Manson family in the summer of 1969 and depictions in the mass media.
The story of the exhibition begins with the work Veronica’s Veil / Tigers’ Tale (2016–2018), that was recreated, augmented, and retitled for Kunsthalle Wien and presents the juxtaposition of two tales conjuring the miraculous and the magical for adults and children. From her wooden sleep… (2013), the central work in the lower exhibition hall, is an expansive arrangement featuring more than 150 historical wooden manikins, which form a seemingly closed society, putting the viewer in the uncomfortable position of an outside observer. The preceding installations, Blue Beard (2016) and Crypt (2016) introduce associated themes such as belonging and exclusion, and the underlying ideologies. Like many works, Canadian Child (2009) is closely linked to the artist’s life and is suggestive of the way the transformation of personal or national identity manifests itself externally.
In the upper exhibition hall, the installations The Dead Jumbo. (2011), THE BIRD THAT MADE THE BREEZE TO BLOW (2006–2011), Predators & Prey (The Denslow’s Mother Goose Project) (2005–2017), and Marburg! The Early Bird! (2008–2016) are on display. Marburg— Hendeles’s birthplace, and the first place her parents settled after the horrors of the Holocaust—has close links to the Brothers Grimm, who collected and transcribed fairy tales and legends. Fairy tales play a central role in Hendeles’s work. She traces the way fantasy worlds and stories for children reflect ideologies to show how certain belief and value systems are deeply anchored and infuse everyday life.
THE BIRD THAT MADE THE BREEZE TO BLOW (2006–2011) deals with post-war culture and the aftermath of trauma. It reflects on the disruption arising when a grave responsibility deriving from the past conflicts with a hopeful contemplation of the future. Modernism, technological development, and the aspirations associated are impeded by the psychological and emotional burdens that restrict the individual’s ability to act. Ultimately, the work is about finding a place in the world within the context of history, generation, culture, and nationality. Hendeles’s newly created site-specific work The Eagle and the Hare (2017) addresses the eagle as an ambiguous symbol of the divine and the demonic, protector and aggressor.
The works in the exhibition Death to Pigs present themselves as dense overlays of intensely researched cultural, historical, and autobiographical references. In their dramaturgy, they unfold in a subjective view of cultural history that relates to diverse social developments. The result is a multi-layered narrative that shows how socially constructive forces were used destructively time and again, how utopian ideas turned dystopian.
At the opening of the exhibition "Ydessa Hendeles. Death to Pigs", Markus Müller (art historian, journalist, and curator) and Gaëtane Verna (Director, The Power Plant, Toronto) discussed the diverse practice of Ydessa Hendeles. They further talked about the reception of Hendeles's work in Canada, where Verna recently curated an extensive solo exhibition of the artist, and about how the local background plays a role in the exhibition in Vienna.
Curator: Nicolaus Schafhausen
Artist: Ydessa Hendeles
(born 1948 in Marburg) currently divides her time between studios in Toronto and New York. She studied at the University of Toronto, the New School of Art (Toronto), the Toronto Art Therapy Institute, and holds a PhD from the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis of the University of Amsterdam. She taught art history at the New School of Art and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Fine Art at the University of Toronto. In October 2017, Hendeles was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Philipps-Universität Marburg.
In 1980, she established The Ydessa Gallery, Toronto, where she represented Canadian artists exclusively, including Rodney Graham, Ken Lum, Jana Sterbak, Jeff Wall and Krzysztof Wodiczko. In 1987, she launched the exhibition program of the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation in Toronto, and in 1988 opened Canada’s first privately funded exhibition venue for contemporary art. By the time its building closed in 2012, the Foundation had mounted more than 35 major curated exhibitions.
Hendeles began to incorporate her own artistic projects into the exhibitions at the Foundation in the early 1990s. Her work has also been exhibited at: Haus der Kunst, Munich (2003); National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2004); Gwangju Biennale (2010); Marburger Kunstverein, Marburg (2010); Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (2011); König Galerie, Berlin (2012); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2015); Kunsthaus Hamburg (2016); Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv (2016); New Museum, New York (2016); and The Power Plant, Toronto (2017). Hendeles is represented by Barbara Edwards Contemporary, Toronto, where her work, Death to Pigs, was first exhibited in 2016.
NO MATCHING PROJECTS
Tanea Hynes & Ethan Murphy. The Shape of Desire 2022 EXHIBITION
Tell me about yesterday tomorrow. A Book about the Future of the Past 2021 PUBLICATION
Curating contemporary art against the backdrop of a local context 2019 TEACHING
Heinz Frank. The Angle of the End Always Comes from Behind 2019 EXHIBITION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2018: Ting-Jung Chen & Hui Ye. Keep Me Close To You 2018–2019 EXHIBITION
Olaf Nicolai. There Is No Place Before Arrival 2018 EXHIBITION
Ieva Epnere. On water, wind and faces of stone 2018 EXHIBITION
Guy Mees. The Weather is Quiet, Cool, and Soft 2018 EXHIBITION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2017: Marlene Maier & Olena Newkryta: Everything a Hand Can't Take 2017–2018 EXHIBITION
Florian Hecker. Hallucination, Perspective, Synthesis 2017–2018 EXHIBITION
Publishing as an Artistic Toolbox: 1989-2017 2017–2018 EXHIBITION
Marlene Creates. To the Blast Hole Pond River 2017 EXHIBITION
Marcel Odenbach. Beweis zu nichts / Proof of Nothing 2017 EXHIBITION
Marcel Odenbach. Beweis zu nichts / Proof of Nothing 2018 PUBLICATION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2016: Margit Busch, Andrej Polukord 2016–2017 EXHIBITION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2016: Margit Busch. IF—THEN—ELSE. Welcome to Transciency 2016 PUBLICATION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2016: Andrej Polukord. The Sarcophagus 2016 PUBLICATION
Nathalie Du Pasquier. BIG OBJECTS NOT ALWAYS SILENT 2016 EXHIBITION
Wilfrid Almendra. Light Boiled Like Liquid Soap 2016 EXHIBITION
Wilfrid Almendra. Light Boiled like Liquid Soap 2019 PUBLICATION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2015: Karina Mendreczky, Anastasiya Yarovenko 2015–2016 Exhibition
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2015: Karina Mendreczky 2016 PUBLICATION
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2015: Anastasiya Yarovenko 2016 PUBLICATION
Charlemagne Palestine. GesammttkkunnsttMeshuggahhLaandtttt 2015 Exhibition
Charlemagne Palestine. GesammttkkunnsttMeshuggahhLaandttttt 2016 PUBLICATION
Individual Stories. Collecting as Portrait and Methodology 2015 Exhibition
Individual Stories. Collecting as Portrait and Methodology 2016 PUBLICATION
Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz. Future Light 2015 Exhibition
Function Follows Vision, Vision Follows Reality 2015 Exhibition
Flaka Haliti. Kosovo Pavilion for the 58th Biennial 2015 EXHIBITION
Pierre Bismuth. The Curator, the Lawyer and the Psychoanalyst 2015 Exhibition
Pierre Bismuth. Things I Remember I Have Done, But Don’t Remember Why I Did Them 2017 PUBLICATION
Tony Conrad. Two Degrees of Separation / Über zwei Ecken 2015 PUBLICATION
Gareth Long & Melton Barker. Kidnappers Foil 2014–2015 Exhibition
Kunsthalle Wien Prize 2014: Leander Schönweger. The Fog Disperses 2014 Exhibition
Leander Schönweger. Die Nebel lichten sich 2014 PUBLICATION
Hannah Rickards. Grey light. Left and right back, high up, two small windows 2014–2015 EXHIBITION
Isa Genzken. I’m Isa Genzken, The Only Female Fool 2014 Exhibition
Isa Genzken. I’m Isa Genzken, the Only Female Fool 2014 PUBLICATION
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys. Das Wunder des Lebens (The Miracle of Life) 2014 Exhibition
Zin Taylor. The Story of Stripes and Dots 2013–2014 EXHIBITION
Zin Taylor. Lichen Voices/Stripes and Dots 2013 PUBLICATION
WWTBD – What Would Thomas Bernhard Do Festival 2013 EVENT
Act I: Beautiful from Every Point of View 2009–2010 EXHIBITION
John Kormeling. Dutch Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 2010 EXHIBITION
Liam Gillick. German Pavilion 53. Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte La Biennale di Venezia 2009 2009 EXHIBITION
Liam Gillick. How are you going to behave? A kitchen cat speaks 2009 PUBLICATION
William Hunt. Tempting Fate, Swimming Alone 2008 EXHIBITION
Liam Gillick. Three perspectives and a short scenario 2008 EXHIBITION
Isa Genzken. Deutscher Pavillon 52. Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte La Biennale di Venezia 2009 2007 EXHIBITION
Die Frage des Tages / The Question of the Day 2007 PUBLICATION
Michael Beutler. nicht innen sondern außen – nicht drinnen, sondern draußen 2004–2005 EXHIBITION
Ars Viva 03/04. Film: Jeanne Faust and Omar Fast 2004 EXHIBITION
Adorno: The Possibility of the Impossible (Vol. II) 2003 PUBLICATION
Adorno: The Possibility of the Impossible (Vol. I) 2003 PUBLICATION
Gerard Byrne. Books, Magazines, and Newspapers 2003 PUBLICATION
Alex Morrison. Giving the Story a Treatment 2005 PUBLICATION
Stephen Prina: An Evening of 19th- and 20th- Century 2003 EXHIBITION
Marcel Odenbach. Even If The Driver May Be Different, The Truck Still Remains The Same 2002 EXHIBITION
Husain / Richter / Jensen. Lavawoche – Krustenwoche 2001 EXHIBITION
Christa Näher. Das Malwerk und das Schöne 2000–2001 EXHIBITION
Tulipomania Dotcom: A Critique of the New Economy 2000 EVENT
Stephen Prina. To the People of the City of Frankfurt 2000 EXHIBITION
Jeroen de Rijke and Willem de Rooij. After the Hunt 2000 PUBLICATION
Man muss ganz schön viel lernen um hier zu funktionieren 2000 EXHIBITION
Dorothea von Hantelmann. Der andere Schauplatz 1999 EVENT
Benutzeroberfläche Stadt. Performanzen für den Frankfurter Kunstverein 1999 EVENT