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mumok exhibits works by the Kapsch Contemporary Art Prize 2017 winner: Julian Turner
Exhibition view of Julian Turner why not, Kapsch Contemporary Art Prize 2017 © mumok. Photo: Klaus Pichler.


VIENNA.- Julian Turner (born 1985 in Hamburg) is the second winner of the Kapsch Contemporary Art Prize, an award promoting young artists who live primarily in Austria. The prize was established in 2016 by the Kapsch Group and mumok and the winner receives 5,000 euro prize money and a solo exhibition at mumok, including a publication. In addition the Kapsch Group purchases a work or work group by the winner for the mumok collection.

In his first museum exhibition entitled why not, Julian Turner takes a pointed and humorous look at the concept of the display, forms of presentation in museums and elsewhere, and also various collecting processes. In the clean white cube of the museum, Turner makes allustions to public spaces such as Brussels-North rail station or Berlin’s central Alexanderplatz square. His exhibition focuses on questions like what do we collect, how do we collect, and why do we collect? Why do we exhibit? Or why not? Imperfection and playing with the unpretentious and ready-made are also always among Turner’s concerns. “The broken is always more authentic, you can understand it better,” Turner says.

Like an exhibited object, Turner gives his exhibition a display side and a back side. He gives just as much space to imperfection as he does to any polished presentation. A choreography of classical forms of work and display using presentation cases, objects on plinths, and pictures in the standard format 70 x 100 cm is complemented by a storeroom in which Turner places left-over materials and everything that was used in installing the exhibition. In this way the artist adds something chaotic, diffuse, and irrelevant to the museum’s institutionalized and hierarchical system of selection. This is an underlying game with the expectations of musuem visistors, who will know that such storerooms exist in museums but never think about them during their museum visit.

When visitors encounter this storeroom in Turner’s exhibition, this leads to a number of questions. What is the connection between the exhibition space and the storeroom? What is hidden, and what is displayed? It is this ambivalance that Turner is aiming for. The irony and the wit with which he approaches objects in their inherent structures also explains the exhibition title why not . This does not represent a question, but an answer to a question just posed: Why? Without explanation the why of making exhibitions is thrown back on itself.

Excursion to Venice
The main work in the exhibition is Excursion (2017), which is both a bar and a bench to sit on. Here Turner draws on the idea of a souvenir and then explores how souvenirs work. For Excursion he selects the massive tourist attraction of the Venice Biennale as his perspective on the lagoon city and he declares a canal trip in a vaporetto, the Venetian water bus, to be its symbolic emblem. The work is characterized by a detailed imitation of the back end of a vaporetto. With an open deck, a bench, and a half-circle table, this walk-in sculpture invites museum visitors to sit down and enjoy the view.

Our use of souvenirs (French: memories) is one of the the most striking rituals associated with traveling. The souvenir is a manifestation of our memories of the journey and our relationship to the places we go to. Turner’s recreation of the back of a boat represents an interesting shift. In choosing a vaporetto he has selected an object that is well known to visitors to the city but he leaves out all the sights. By directing visitors’ gazes to an empty space, the moment of leisure connected to a trip by boat is emphasized. The only references to the Venice Biennale are on a marginal wall shelf: a special edition of the magazine Kunstforum about the Biennale and a tablet showing a boat trip through rather disloyal regions of the city. Both of these objects have the function of mementoes of a mega-exhibition that was the actual reason for the young artist to travel to Venice, which it would be safe to assume served as a source of inspiration quite unlike the banality of a boat trip.

Curated by Marianne Dobner






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