We are proud to present “Appropriate All Emotions”, an exhibition by the Austrian/Israeli artist duo Muntean/Rosenblum in our Salzburg gallery.
Juxtaposing references to the histories of art and literature with imagery borrowed from present-day pop culture and social media, the duo has become internationally renowned for their complex conceptual work which has been ex- hibited in solo shows at Secession, Vienna; Georg Kargl, Vienna; Sommer Contemporary, Tel Aviv; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Salzburger Kunstverein; Australian Center for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Tate Britain, London; Galerie für zeitgenös- sische Kunst, Leipzig; Team Gallery, New York; Bob van Orsouw, Zürich; and most recently at MOCAK, Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow; MAC, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Coruña.
In the compositions of their paintings and drawings, the artist couple Markus Muntean and Adi Rosenblum use methods of sampling and resampling of subjects from art history and present-day popular culture. The starting point is an intensive confrontation with the pathos formulas of art history and the questioning of how emotions that find expression as a result are articulated and interpreted in different eras. Motifs that we know from Passion cycles are applied to the psychological dispositions of contemporary existence, sometimes as the expression of an apathy that appeals to the empathy of the beholder. Historically overwhelming pictorial subjects are transferred into the present day, while at the same time triggering a discussion of the media conditions in which pictures are produced today. As a result of the use of language and lettering, a further plane penetrates into the paintings of Muntean/Rosenblum and gives insights into the complexity of the challenges which a subtle medium such as painting and drawing has to face up to today.*
A new series of paintings introduces images that have been culled from videos viewed over one hundred thousand times on YouTube, what we call viral videos. These pictures are larger than normal and the style of painting is more expressive, with looser, more gestural brushwork, the two aspects used with a certain ironic intention. The viral videos are of all kinds, for instance the one that lead to Untitled (It's Turning Dumb...) is a compilation of big explosions. Another highly popular subgenre is videos of people under the effects of anaesthesia, in situations like having wisdom teeth removed, the source of Untitled (Between the Conception...). And yet another subgenre, without by any means exhausting the examples, is made up of slow motion images of all kinds, like a slice of watermelon, from which the image used in Untitled (Beyond this Road...) came. As one might expect, there are also many videos with animals, both pets and wild animals; or of people training or practicing sports, often highlighting erotic aspects like prominent buttocks or bulging biceps. The most popular images among viewers are generally banal and created with a playful intention. Other times, however, they are eye-witness recordings of accidents or natural disasters.
The paintings in this series are paired with poetic texts by authors like Rainer Maria Rilke, T. S. Eliot, Paul Celan or Paul Bowles, which contrast sharply with them, both in terms of the origin of the two types of messages as well as who they are aimed at. Muntean/Rosenblum take the lines and the images out of their contexts, in a way reminiscent of how DJs work, creating frames of mind from mixing tracks they choose from a repertoire of music created by others, at times juxtaposing two totally unexpected tracks.**
The exhibition also includes the eponymous video installation Appropriate All Emotions. For this piece the duo collaborated with six in fluential Youtubers on whose faces they painted wounds reminiscent of knife slashes or other echoes of violent acts – a nod to stigmata iconography as well as Vienna Actionism. The vloggers would then go on maintaining their channels as if nothing had happened. Their audience was never told that these wounds were the product of an artistic intervention but were left wondering they were the result of a minor accident or a serious act of violence. Accompanying the show, Muntean/Rosenblum will stage an intervention in this vein at the Salzburger Festspiele on 21 July.
What Muntean/Rosenblum leaves us with is an artistic practice that operates as a field of loose associations and ambiguous gestures, susceptible to coherence only by outside interpretation. Decontextualized figures and phrases stare back at the spectator, demanding us to engage with the images and to extract our own narratives from these elusive tableaux.