Renate BERTLMANN has been selected to represent Austria at the Biennale Arte 2019 – 58th International Art Exhibition in Venice from 11 May until 24 November. The presentation marks the first time in the history of Austria's participation in the Biennale that a female artist will represent the country with a solo exhibition.
Curated by Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein, 'Discordo Ergo Sum [I dissent, therefore I am]' brings together decades of the Austrian artist's radical and risk-taking practice. The title of the exhibition extends the artist's group of work that she has classed under 'Amo Ergo Sum [I love, therefore I am] – scrawled in bold letters across the exterior of the Austrian Pavilion – a further play on the Descartesian philisophical principle 'Cogito, ergo sum [I think, therefore I am].
At the heart of the exhibition is a new installation created especially for the Biennale: a precise grid of 312 glass roses, each hand blown in Murano, out of which protrude razor sharp blades.
Causing upheaval at the highest level, Bertlmann appropriates the arsenal of social symbols, breaks it open and reassesses them feministically. In this process, contradictions stand side-by-side in accord, are made to oscillate, and are perceived as an expression of human diversity and plurality. From the nimble foundation of the artist’s two central figures, the lover and the insurgent, emerges a transitional space where incongruities convene, separate things change sides, and hierarchies and dichotomies are set in motion. Created in an interplay of conceptual, aesthetic, and material intensities, this space offers a basic tension that, on the one hand, critically presents itself as personal and sociopolitical phenomena of global developments and, on the other, points to the transformative potential of art in aesthetical and sociopolitical contexts.