Biennale Arte 2019
Opening of the Austrian pavilion on 9 May 2019

On 9 May 2019, Federal Minister Blümel opened the Austrian pavilion at the Biennale Arte together with Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein, the curator of the Austrian contribution, and the artist Renate Bertlmann whose works are presented in the pavilion this year.

2019 is the first year in the history of Austrian contributions to the Biennale that a female artist, namely Renate Bertlmann, shows a solo exhibition in the pavilion. Thereby, we, as a society, set a sign that follows art and considers structural disparities.
(Curator Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein)

Renate Bertlmann has developed an installation, Discordo Ergo Sum (I disagree, therefore I am), for presentation at the Austrian pavilion. Through this re-phrasing of the philosophical principle of Cogito Ergo Sum (I think, therefore I am), the artist tries to overturn the predominance of logocentrism and describe herself in her resistant self-perception. Based on the artist’s subversive programmatic axiom of Amo Ergo Sum (I love, therefore I am), the impressive textual work in front of the pavilion – by which Bertlmann signs the pavilion as if it were a canvas in an ironic gesture inherent in her work – and the installation of knife-roses covering the entire courtyard in a “precisely arranged grid made up of 312 roses, a kind of red army standing to attention under the blazing sun” (Beatriz Colomina) present a synesthetic artistic commentary that makes the existential ambivalence of human experience tangible in both form and content. This subversive take concisely gets to the heart of the principle of Bertlmann’s artistic approach that is based on contradictions.

I am very pleased that Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein curates the Austrian pavilion for the Art Biennale 2019.

Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein is an internationally renowned creator of exhibitions, author and editor of numerous papers and publications and has taught art history at the Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Sciences of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna for many years where she also initiated and serves as the head of the Cathrin Pichler Archives. Her work focuses on feminist, gender-specific and performative issues.

By selecting Renate Bertlmann for the Austrian pavilion in 2019, the curator presents an artist whose work not only holds a key position in the female performance history of Austria, but also is highly respected in the international feminist avant-garde. In 2017, the artist born in Vienna in 1943 received the Grand Austrian State Prize. I am all the more happy that the presentation organised in the Austrian pavilion is dedicated to a female solo position for the first time in its decades-long history.

The Austrian contribution again offers a starting point for a lively, internationally oriented discussion in 2019 that will certainly highlight the world-wide presence and significance of Austrian art and culture.
(Gernot Blümel during the opening ceremony on 9 May 2019)

58th International Art Exhibition
Biennale Arte 2019


Curator: Ralph Rugoff

11 May—24 November 2019

Austrian Pavilion

Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein
Renate Bertlmann
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