Interview with Josef Trattner

about the exhibition Josef Trattner. Donau-Sofafahrt (25.05.–13.10.2019, Kunsthalle Krems in der Dominikanerkirche)

You were invited by director Florian Steininger to exhibit at the second venue of the Kunsthalle Krems, the Dominican Church, built in the 13th and 14th centuries and secularized already in the 18th century. What stimulus did the sacred architecture provide for your work?

Interventions in historic spaces have interested me for many years now. I did the first project of this kind, Baroque in Progress, in 1996 in Eckartsau Castle. The Dominican Church, though, calls for utmost carefulness and a subtle approach. The church space with its history does not allow superficial action but forces “tender realism” and color. This space is not really suited for exhibitions in a conventional sense. It is the dialogue with the space, the colors and the acoustics that is in the foreground. What I was concerned with in developing the concept particularly was the special acoustics and the integration of the interior with exterior space. So the river, the Danube, is an essential part of the installation. Foam rubber, which also goes through a fluid state during production, almost imposes itself as a material.

Foam rubber has been your favorite material ever since the 1990s. Is this your response to Arte Povera?

I don’t think that this is a cheap “poor” material; on the contrary: foam rubber is an expensive and transient material, and our daily life is not imaginable without it. The fact that I mostly use “scraps,” material that goes to recycling, makes it look cheap. For the intervention at the Dominican Church, very expensive, cut-to-order materials are used, which then find a new use through recycling. The installations mostly are experimental setups which have a self-reflective critical potential inscribed in them. Recipients are actively involved in the project in most cases.

The lightweight material also enables you to take your famous red foam rubber sofa with you all across Europe. What do you want with those so-called Sofa Rides, which are also documented in another exhibition at the Kunsthalle Krems on Land Art (14.07–03.11.2019)?

The Sofa Rides are an attempt to also take up, aside from visual qualities, literary, musical, and architectural aspects and bring them to the project. Traveling in itself becomes artistic action. Different art disciplines are being combined. In the foreground, there’s dialogue and spontaneous musical interventions. The Land Art exhibition at the Kunsthalle Krems shows the video Danubian Sofa and photo works. Most of the projects are published in book form. So far, six books about them have appeared with publisher Schleebrügge.Editor.

For years, you have been inviting various personalities to join you on the sofa. In Krems, you’ll be asking well-known faces of the city to sit down with you for a conversation. What do you expect from your conversation partners?

I expect a lively exchange about art, culture, and politics. After all, Krems is a central cultural location in Lower Austria. Conversations with those responsible for art will be held on the sofa in assigned locations, but I also want to invite artists staying in Krems on an AIR—Artist in Residence Lower Austria scholarship to conversations on the sofa and explore Krems together with them.

In conjunction with the exhibition, you’ll be inviting different musicians and literary writers for performances at the Dominican Church. How do these performances go together with your installation?

I’ve been working together with musicians and writers for many years, though almost exclusively in the area of experimentation. Interpretation, acting in certain selected places requires an extremely high degree of empathy and sensitivity. For the opening on May 26, 2019, there will be performances by Franz Hautzinger, Isabelle Duthoid, Burkhard Stangl, Angelica Castello, Cordula Bösze, and others. In addition, there will be three concerts featuring Anika Vavic, SOFASURFERS and Harald Kimmig, Angelika Sheridan and Carl Ludwig Hübsch.

One part of your foam rubber installation is dismantlable and invites touching the art, even taking it apart. What role das interaction have in your art?

Foam rubber is a material that invites acting on it, and that’s actually the idea. Visitors become actors and thus part of the installation, they are co-performers. From 2005 to 2009, I realized “T.JAZZ” once a year at the Husarentempel, a landmark folly near Mödling in Lower Austria. The project was intended for participants to disassemble the installation and so to become part of the subsequent musical performance. This concept is continued at the Dominican Church. A sculpture can be disassembled by about 250 participants, and they become part of the action.

Bildcredit: Josef Trattner © Archiv Trattner

My Visit

0 Entries Entry

Suggested visit time:

Send List