The sculptural installations by Philipp Timischl (born 1989 in Graz; lives in Vienna) generally make use of a recurring formal device: the combination of flat-panel displays—on which video loops play—placed below equal-width canvas panels incorporating historical, text, or appropriated imagery (often arranged onto raw, unprimed canvas above epoxy resin). On the one hand, Timischl’s hybrid sculptures—free-standing, or installed against a wall—allude to traditional art historical conventions such as the tableau, the Warburgian visual panel, and the diptych. On the other—in his technique of turning video displays into sculptures below two-dimensional paintings—Timischl creates links between these historical visual conventions and the more recent visual devices of mass-cultural technology: the smartphone, the Apple product, the flat panel monitor, as well as the style and arrangement of the commercial and product display. When physically placed alongside the static, austere visual-textual panels on canvas, the works provoke questions about the viability of private experience amid our time’s unprecedented constellation of media and information imagery, the instability of the public sphere, and the often-problematic determinism of technologically-saturated media and information environments, and its simultaneous elevation and effacement of personal narrative.
The Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien is very pleased to present Philipp Timischl’s first large institutional exhibition, for which he developed a new installation and an artist’s book. The title, “They were treating me like an object. As if I were some sextoy or shit. I don’t wanna see them again”, already hints at the contextual path that Timischl takes as he evades the snares hidden in the process of questioning the critique of representation amid a media-saturated society, the traps involved in inquiring into identity and its constructions, or the adequate production of art by the next generation in an astonishingly relaxed and productive way.
Rather than displaying autonomous objects, Timischl presents a pool of information. He reveals the process of conceiving and producing an exhibition, bringing all of the elements together onto one equal level by using printed banners hanging evenly throughout the space, fog machines, and a commissioned soundtrack (cover version of Linkin Park’s “Rebellion” by Daphne Ahlers, Lonely Boys). On the banners visitors see stills from an as-yet unfinished video project, next to various information such as the title of the exhibition, this very press release, conversations with friends, pages from the artist’s book he made for this show, or the lyrics to the above-mentioned soundtrack.
For Timischl it is not about clarity or transparency; as a frequently claimed idea for a simple solution and often literal illustration, they are rejected here. Nevertheless, despite (as well as with) all of the breaks and distractions, an idea can be developed out of this and ultimately shown as a whole: it is the personified exhibition, justifying itself and addressing the visitor directly: “They were treating me like an object. As if I were some sextoy or shit. I don’t wanna see them again”.
An artist’s book will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. Despite its special manufacture, and the fact that selected works from recent years have been reworked, it is not really a resume of Timischl’s work up till now. Rather, it expands upon individual projects, giving them—similar to the exhibition—a voice of their own.