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Vienna part II: Film, photography and the unexpected

In the way the my first couple of days centered around the MQ and checking out bands, my third and fourth days in Vienna seemed to have a running theme centered around the unexpected, photography and film.

The first great surprise was catching up with Marita from bell street artist-run “off space” in the 2nd section. Run by her and her partner Alex Lawler (who, coincidentally) I knew from Sydney way, way back in the day), it was a lovely surprise in amongst the big guns of the Vienna visual arts. Probably because it’s run by a couple of aussie artists, it felt incredibly familiar and we sat and chatted for ages about being an ‘expat’ and what the visual arts is really like in Europe and especially Austria.

I then went to Hundertwasser house, which I had been looking forward to for ages, having loved his architectural work (ie grass on roofs, wonky likes, subterranean abodes) for a while. The big surprise was that it wasn’t as cool as I had hoped. In fact most of it was irritating and reproduces in print much better than the ‘real thing’. I still enjoyed looking at the architectural models and checking out the house, which was great, but I left feeling a little ‘ripped off’ – hate it when that happens.

Marita pointed me to a little ‘off space’ of Mariahilfiger Straße, swingr, which was having it’s opening that night, so I popped along. Unfortunately, the most interesting part was the catalogue - largely cut ups and reproductions of important feminist cultural texts (The Reason There Are No Good Women Artists by Linda Nochlin, surely on every undergrad girl’s text list).

Having nothing planned, I wandered down the main shopping ‘strip’ – Vienna’s equivalent to Oxford St and while nothing really grabbed me – mostly high street crap you can get anywhere in the world – I did pop into an English cinema to see my first movie since June! I saw The Bourne Ultimatum and while it’s not going to change the world, it was fucking great. I’d seen the other two, have a weird small crush on Matt Damon and it felt like a really wicked thing to do – a culturally rich city, and I go off to see a Hollywood blockbuster! ha!

My last day in Vienna was a little weird ‘cos I felt like I was just ‘waiting’ to catch my train to Venice. And yet I still managed to squeeze in a crazy day: bunch of great show, a bit of a cry at having to put off applying for my masters for yet another year and a beautiful trip to the country - only 25 minutes out of town.

As far as the exhibitions go, I went to the BA-CA Kunstforum, which has a great show on called wannimmervorerst and is an exhibition of mostly Austrian/German works from the BA-CA bank’s collection. There were some amazing artists, a real surprise visit, including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Dianne Arbus, Erwin Wurm (at whose work I giggled my motherfucking arse off!), Duane Michaels, Ed Ruscha and Gerwald Rockenschaub (coolest aritsts’ name in history).

After that I popped quickly into MAK to check out the Held Together With Water exhibition – a fantastic show of works in the Verbung collection. Some of the same artists were in this show as other shows I had seen (here and in Londond) and I realised, for the first time, that I was starting to get a good idea of who is doing what in Europe, at a particular level. This was quite a victory, considering that I felt that I knew sweet fuck all before I came here.

The show had so many big guns there, it’s hard to keep it short, but one’s I’ve noted in my trusty moleskine sketchbook included Cindy Sherman and her Bus Riders, relatively new work, which I loved; Nan Golding, VALIE EXPORT, Gilbert & George (documentation from their Red Sculpture and Underneath the Arches sculpture) and Markus Schinwald’s Gus sculpture which looked a hell of a lot like Gilbert. Sarah Lucas’ self-portraits: as a mobile and with fried eggs were great to see, as was David Wojnawovicz’s Rimbaud in New York series (which I had also seen previously, although I couldn’t remember for the life of me where). I also really liked Francois Alÿs’ video work, which I had seen at the Tate Modern in the Poetry and Dream section, Fred Sandback’s Seven-Part Vertical Construction pushed some buttons – a physical, 3D representation of drawing perspective, using yarn. Joanna Billing’s video piece, Magical World was the soundtrack to my whole time in the gallery“I liiiiiive in a magical wooooooorld”, which I can still sing now. I’ve got no idea who wrote it, but it has impressed itself in my brain. All in all a great show and a hell of a nice surprise.

The last thing I did in Vienna, was one which I had been looking forward to for ages and, like the Hundertwasser, was a tad disappointing: The Third Man walking tour of Vienna. The Third Man is one of my “all-time, desert island, top 5”, favourite movies and one I studied in Year 12 English class. I was really looking forward to going to Josefstadt Theatre, where Anna had worked, going to the Ferris Wheel, where that famous Harry Lime monologue took place, to the station and the bridge where Holly proved himself a bumbling idiot. Not to be. I did see some cool parts of Vienna and we got a great post-war history lesson. We did get to hear a zither playing the Harry Lime theme (as twee as it was) and checked out the Sacher Hotel (the start of the whole thing), but all in all it was a bit of a let-down.

AND I dropped my camera and fucked the focus. Fuck! so all my photos from now, until I can manage to be in one place long enough to get it fixed, will be out of focus.

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