Idea and concept | Carla Bobadilla, Hansel Sato
Curatorial consultant | Andreas Spiegl
Artists | Basile Baixe, Carla Degenhardt, Paula Delgado, Vasilena Gankovska, Fran Ilich, Carlos Perez, Oscar Sanchez, Hansel Sato, Katrin Wölger
When it comes to shaping public opinion, television has developed into an influential medium. This has less to do with the integrity or objectivity of the ideas and contents conveyed, but rather with the desire to relate to a type of reality that is not necessarily real, but appears in the guise of images. As an image and translated into the reality of the media, reality remains at a distance. What appears as reality is the phantom of a mediality of reality as such. In order to ensure this mediality of reality, it is essential to supply a projection of reality that is formed according to the conditions stipulated by mediality, so to speak: to produce the projection of a telegenic reality. Here the concept of telegenic does not so much refer to the issue of image quality as to the aesthetics of distance. In this sense, the aesthetics of television aims to communicate an immediate closeness to reality, whereas it simultaneously promises to keep this closeness at a distance. In order to display distance, however close it may be, various television shows have been conceived – be it soap operas, reality TV, or telenovelas. The latter is of Latin American origin and dominates television programs as much as common ideas about what everyday life could or should be. The density and significance of such series has taken on such a dimension that it seems legitimate to consider telenovelas as a dominant cultural factor that determines our social and cultural lives, as well as our ideas about politics. An artistic discourse devoted to the political, social, and cultural aspects of everyday life can hardly escape dealing with the TV shows in question. They devise influential characters and role models, invent habits, and are a manifestation of stereotypes: heterosexuality coupled with sexist perceptions of women, a tendency toward the immutability of socio-political everyday life, the establishment of social role models, economic tragicomedies, etc.
The “Telenovela” project conducted at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna was initiated through a proposal made by a group of students and graduates that are of Latin American origin themselves or were confronted with telenovelas when living in Southeastern Europe. Subsequently, Hansel Sato, Carlos Perez, and Vasilena Gankovska invited further artists to join them in compiling a small exhibition on the subject that creatively reflects upon its cultural components. The medial spectrum of their practical work ranges from drawing and photography to sound installation, performance, and video, while their artistic perspectives vary from documentary material to parody. Far from intending to supply a comprehensive picture of the subject’s complexity, the project has been designed as a critical sketch. What is conveyed by this sketch is the intersection of an artistic discourse and problematic issues that have become manifest in everyday cultural life. This intersection requires more from art practice than the mere production of works of art. Here art practice implicitly also encompasses research, interdisciplinary translation, methodological criticism, and curatorial work. The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna is pleased to offer a forum for discourse to its students and graduates, and to the artists invited by them, that permits open discussion of their work.
Text: Andreas Spiegl Translation: Wolfgang Astelbauer