news release: 2004

New horizons for Anthony Auerbach and ACF

Voluntary Memory concludes the Visual Arts Programme run by artist Anthony Auerbach for the Austrian Cultural Forum London (ACF) since 1999. ACF will continue to support visual arts and Anthony Auerbach is moving on, but will maintain a relationship with ACF in an advisory capacity.

The programme began as an experiment to suggest ways of overcoming the isolation common to many foreign cultural institutes, with the emphasis on providing a space for contemporary art events based on artists’ initiatives and international co-operation. The programme has provided a distinctive space in the London art scene and a stimulating context for a wide range of contemporary practices, gaining recognition for innovative and sometimes audacious projects. Anthony Auerbach took on the challenge of turning a small space in an out-of-the-way part of town on into a venue, and, on a sometimes precarious budget, mobilising the energy and commitment of artists and other contributors. The experiment was successful and the time has come to assess the implications for future development. The aim will be to secure flexible structures and effective means of maintaining a diverse programme.

Over 200 artists, architects, curators and critics have taken part in exhibitions, new commissions, residencies, performance and public discussions. Anthony Auerbach organised Austrian group Gelatin’s London debut (Breakfast in Bed with Gelatin at ACF and The Gelatin Ship Paprika at Bishopsgate Goodsyard, 1999) and has introduced artists from Bosnia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia and other countries alongside Austrian and UK-based artists. The programme has initiated debates on migration and European expansion (Roman Vasseur’s 500 Pounds of Common Earth, 2000; B+B at Home, 2003), political engagement and activism (Alexander Brener & Barbara Schurz’s Summer School of Bukaka, 2001), art in media space (Museum in Progress, 2002; Video as Urban Condition, 2004), feminism (Mons Veneris: Female Geographies and Coming Round the Mountain, 2002; I am not a feminist. I am normal., 2004) and the representation and misrepresentation of history (Klub Zwei in residence, 2001, Voluntary Memory, 2004). The International Necronautical Society (in residence 2001) mapped the horizons of art and literature and presented its findings at the Royal Geographical Society (Navigation Was Always a Difficult Art, 2002). Werner Reiterer put on Trousers for the Brain (1999) and Uli Aigner made Enemy Contact at the Freud Museum. Muntean & Rosenblum with David Burrows introduced Wild Life (along with half a dozen hired Tarzans, 1999) and Grant Watson and Beata Veszley answered the call with Woof Woof: Becoming Animal (2000). The space has seen, among other events, a Treasure Hunt (Halt+Boring, 2003), a Hungarian Feast (HINTS Institute, 2003), a punk riot (CRASH! & Earl Brutus v. Alexander Brener & Barbara Schurz, 2001), a lecture by Gelatin (2001, say no more ;-) and pyrotechnic striptease (Ursula Martinez, 2004).

Art Extraterritorial, a limited edition compilation of artists’ editions was issued in 2002.

Anthony Auerbach says: ‘It’s been an exciting project, I’ve learned a lot and made many good friends. I’ve enjoyed a freedom as artistic director which few institutions can offer and this has been one of the advantages of bringing a do-it-yourself approach to a place that had very little infrastructure, but an open-minded attitude. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the programme, especially to Sally Tallant, Sarah Carrington and Rosa Reitsamer who have helped me personally with the organisation. I hope now to concentrate more on my own work and other projects and collaborations.’

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Visual arts at ACF 1999–2004
Art Extraterritorial
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