관리자 2020-09-05 15:30
Born 1957 in Vienna, Austria
Lives in Berlin, Germany
Josef STRAU, I tried to make birds, 2020, Sand, lampshade, paint on restored metal, A2 poster, variable dimensions
In 2006, the Berlin-based artist Josef STRAU published an essay, which by now became a cult art reading, titled “The Non-Productive Attitude,” which contemplates an artistic model that negates both the production of the work of art and its exhibition. This iconoclastic approach, which negates the making of images while favoring speculative auto-theoretical accounts, is the mark of STRAU’s oeuvre, whose suspicion towards the art object is present not only in his artistic practice, but also in his undertakings in criticism and curatorial work. As a rule, STRAU produces installations. Made of plain materials—wood, cardboard, metal mesh, and wire—they are composed as architectural support systems that contour the space of textual arrangements, and at times, whitened out paintings. Thrift-store lampshades punctuate these sets. Done with bare aesthetics, the installations enact an unstable experience, in which two opposing forces are at play. The texts, which are loquacious, present quasi-autobiographic, circular recollections that combine anecdotal accounts with critical observations, while articulating doubts and revelations.STRAU’s meandering narratives produce expansive spaces for the artist’s voice and the silence of the paper.
Walter BENJAMIN saw the form of Denkbild—the thought image—as the highest form of criticism. It can be said that STRAU inverts the original Denkbild, which took the shape of contemplative miniatures, and produced in turn textual maximums, with similar results. In both cases, text becomes an image. Unseen and unattainable, but nonetheless, an image. Like BENJAMIN, STRAU follows a type of mystic thinking. The artist’s iconoclastic approach, his heresy—both terms uses STRAU himself—seeks redemption in a world governed by image circulation. His installations produce a darkened, or perhaps a blinding kind of illumination, that strokes the viewer’s own cognition. Like STRAU’s, this understanding is made up of spectral fractures of the self.