Museum in Progress: An Incorporeal Museum as a Social Sculpture (April 26, 2018)

In his CDS Guest Lecture curator Kaspar Mühlemann Hartl will present on Thursday, April 26, 2018 the concept of the non-commercial art initiative Museum in Progress and its art projects in public and media spaces. His talk on Museum in Progress: An Incorporeal Museum as a Social Sculpture will especially focus on language-based art projects and exhibitions in newspapers and magazines.

Museum in Progress was founded in Vienna in 1990 by Kathrin Messner and Joseph Ortner († 2009) with the aim to develop new forms of presentation for contemporary art. Based on Joseph Beuys’ “extended definition of art”, this private art association extends the definition of a museum and, through its activities, transforms public and media spaces into a “museum” for its art projects. It does not have its own exhibition building and, therefore, operates outside traditional presentation formats. Instead, it uses newspapers and magazines, billboards, building façades, concert halls, or television for its exhibitions, and in this way reaches a vast number of people as they go about their everyday business.

The concept underlying this art initiative is informed by the ideas of Alexander Dorner, a major early twentieth-century museum director and art theoretician: “The new type of art institute cannot merely be an art museum as it has been until now, but no museum at all. The new type will be more like a power station (Kraftwerk), a producer of new energy.” Thus, Museum in Progress operates like a creative laboratory for innovative exhibition forms and transforms the interstices it uses for its activities into open spaces. As an incorporeal museum that is still “in progress”, its context-dependent and temporary art projects aim at the interface between art and life. The concept of the Viennese initiative, therefore, has an inherent social dimension, with a particular commitment to the diversity and freedom of contemporary art production, while at the same time fostering public social discourse.

Swiss-born curator Kaspar Mühlemann Hartl has directed the art initiative Museum in Progress since 2012. He read art history, German studies, and theatre, film and media studies at the University of Vienna and King’s College London. His publications include a monograph on the German artist Christoph Schlingensief and his artistic exploration of the work of Joseph Beuys, as well as a comprehensive catalogue of the seminal “Safety Curtain” large-scale image project of Museum in Progress at the Vienna State Opera. One of his current undertakings is concerned with the re-publication and continuation of the “Portraits of Artists” video conversations, a series of one hundred interviews with internationally renowned artists, recorded mainly in the 1990s and based on an artistic concept by Peter Kogler and Museum in Progress. Mühlemann Hartl also works for the non-profit aid organisation OneWorldFoundation, which was founded by the same philanthropic couple as Museum in Progress. With the proceeds from its Ayurveda Guesthouse, OneWorldFoundation operates a school in Sri Lanka for over 1100 children, adolescents, and adults The project also includes a residence programme for artists and writers.

Date and time: Thursday, April 26, 2018, 11:00 am
Venue: Department of Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
University of Applied Arts Vienna
Hintere Zollamtsstrasse 17
1030 Vienna
Seminar Room (4th floor)