Herwig Steiner
'Vitres_de_son_Ballet_t3' by Eduardo Paz Carlson


With its platform talks, the DOCUMENTA XI indicates a shift of discourse production onto the terrain of aesthetics.

Though the means used are different, this in a way converges on my own artwork, as functions of textualized reflection on art/culture/politics provide me with my aesthetic material (see below appendix A).

I see the basic goal of a reflexive/analytical media intervention in addressing those crucial aspects referring to the political discourse, and culture, which were not adequately covered in the Platform events.

The overall impression (until now) is that the individual contributions, valuable as they may be, still lack tension in their relationship with one another; this leads to a narrowed perspective or a reduction to an 'idealist view ' of the topics on the agenda (hegemony of the critique of hegemony). Corresponding to the five-part structure of the Platform program, the art intervention is divided in two main sections (the aesthetic and the political), which are represented on five aspect levels.Four of these aspects are of a fundamental nature and provide a red thread running through the intervention; one aspect level refers to specific issues discussed in the Platforms.

1) Aspect level: the form of the Platform talks chosen for the DOCUMENTA XI indicates a shift of discourse production onto the terrain of aesthetics (=first main section). Though the means used are different, this in a way corresponds to my own artwork; textualized reflection on art/culture/politics is aesthetic material: PRE-PRINT FORM (see below appendix A).-a COMMENT (as an art practice)on the shift of symbols in connection with the DOCUMENTA XI Platform projects -mutual pervasion of aesthetic/political/discursive levels and their respective persuasive structures.

All text levels are mounted on aesthetic carrier media -abstract-geometrical formal structure (PRE-PRINTS) see photo (as a model will be adapted for the print format)­ the individual text structures are integrated in easily legible size.

All text levels are typographically distinct from one another, but are simultaneously present, which leads to an oscillation effect.

Readers/viewers can explore the conceptual space individually.

MOTTO: Apart from the mentioned reflexive/analytical addressing of the phenomenon of interwoven optical and discursive/textual persuasive structures, the aesthetic element will, through the integration of the political (second main section) gain additional and new reflexive functions: politicizing aesthetics (art/culture) and aesthetizing politics; Aesthetic structure as a symbol of, and skeptical comment on, the contemporary political/social epoch.

In a very complex process the aesthetic structure is given several additional connotations, among them skepticism ­ aesthetics as a field left to the individual in the post-industrial society a the last remaining freedom zone: critical analysis of perception processing and construction as well as considerations of the subjective relevance and function of the creation of meaning provides a theoretical matrix for the entire work (see below appendix A)­ and provocation.

Aesthetics as a symptom of creeping political disempowerment (globalization ­ economy as the decisive power ­ erosion of democracy ­ references to:
'Democracy Unrealized is a matter of bringing to light what liberal democracy promises but fails to deliver.' Traditional politics reduced to the role of an MC and executor of ((economic) power interests.

This leads over to the second aspect level: determining the philosophical position from which to consider the production of discourse ­ linguistic criticism ­ poststructuralist positions ­ the aesthetic basis (text excerpt from 'Reconstructing Hermeneutic Rationality ' by Gianni Vattimo).

MOTTO: critical evaluation of hermeneutics (as a key method in humanities) and its relation to philosophical/aesthetic structures.

This leads to the third aspect level: if hope ever to attain truth must be given up, what remains to do is to visualize dynamic flows of meaning within the flow of time in terms of a historigraphic wide-angle perspective (see PRE-PRINTS concept in appendix A);

THIRD LEVEL historical texts on DOCUMENTAS I ­X

MOTTO: Historical survey of the aesthetic terrain:

Short (concise) text samples characterizing the individual historical DOCUMNTAS = a historigraphic time travel through the past fifty years: character, features, what was distinctive and essential about the past DOCUMENTA shows. This brings us to the second main section, politics/democracy. I use the aporetic key values of the French Revolution / Modernity ­ Liberty, Equality, Fraternity ­ as a matrix of the political//as the basic tenets of any modern political discussion. The history of the DOCUMENTA must be seen as a history of freedom in a Western sense of the word.

This leads on to the fourth aspect level referring to the fact that the Platforms are hosted by different countries (among them peripheral places far away from the centers of the West-dominated art business) Reference: fourth level: the greeting/the guest: text excerpt from: The Speech of the Guest, A Meta-Ethics by Hans-Dieter Bahr.

MOTTO: Greeting of the DOCUMENTA guests!

A philosophical/critical linguistic reference to the first stage of the interpersonal encounter (with strangers/friends).

Obviously this is a visualization of the motif of fraternity!

The fifth aspect level relates to the platform topics
PF1 Wien ­Berlin: Democracy Unrealized
PF2 New Delhi: Experiments with Truth :Transitional Justice and the Processes of Truth and

PF3 St.Lucia: Créolité and Creolization

PF4 Lag s: Under Siege: Four African Cities, Freetown, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos

PF5 Kassel: Exhibition Documenta XI and is dedicated against the background of PF1 Wien ­Berlin,to democracy:

Fifth aspect level: text contribution to the block theme of the DOCUMENTA XI Vienna Platform 'Democracy Unrealized ':

Quotation from (historical documents): Constitution of Athens ­ Aristotle ­ the roots of democracy in a slave-owning oligarchical society ­ and the problem of illusionary EQUALITY.




a) Information about PRE-PRINTS
Herwig Steiner's computer-generated print collages pose the question of the locus and the constructional principles of art and its interpretation. At the same time an effort is made to include the conventional art historical preformation of the public in the artistic production. The traditional reflection on art and the structure of the formation of theories are turned into aesthetic material.

The texts by renowned authors (which have either been written specifically for the artist or selected by the authors from their existing texts for Herwig Steiner's work) form thematic cores, are monumentalized aesthetically and thus exposed -the aesthetic sphere cannot be left behind.

The critical analysis of how our perceptions are processed and their constructional structures as well as reflections about the reference to the subject and the function of generating meaning acts as a kind of the retical bracket for the entire work.

In this attempt at a historiographic wide-angle picture of the dynamic streams of meaning, in the flux of time, the individual texts visualize something like a poetic force -while at the same time revealing their aesthetic function as a constituent for the visual arts since modernism, which is so often suppressed! Thus the works can be viewed on several different levels by the spectators, activate them and represent different cognitive processes, thus giving rise to an interactive relationship between seeing/reading/imagining/remembering and beginning anew, a creative endless loop of interpretation.

Typographical structures from the world of communication and advertising are filled with complex abstract content, irritating "headlines" are combined with areas of densely printed small text material and everything is put together according to strict compositional principles. At the same time, however, the underlying collage and "poster principle" are perceptible, a fact that refers to the precarious construction structures of "descriptions of reality".

A textual picture created in spring 1997 is entitled "Function of Misjudgment", which refers to the loss of the possibility of describing reality irrespective of the power factors that constitute it. This shows the relevance of these aesthetic works for the political sphere.

"Pre_Prints"is thus not only a superficial reference to the computer generated design before printing, i.e. the preliminary stage to the "definite one" that can perhaps not be achieved, but it also appears as a play on words that refers to the preformations which enigmatically allow us access to these textual paintings.


(Instruction for Action)

As the basic concept of an "art in the public sphere" project, the term is remarkable in itself, raising questions beyond usual performance art programs and calling for some more personal considerations.
What I associate with it in the first line is a whole range of motivational variables: from more or less casual pieces of practical advice of all kinds and different (sometimes long internalized) regulations operative in social structures to military chains of command.
This may have to do with one of the general lines pursued by the Enlightenment, the aspect of a certain hegemonic and didactic impetus. It is indicative of some of the inconsistencies inherent in our social and cultural ideals. For one thing cannot be denied: the idea of freedom which is again and again declared to be of central significance and the motivation of personal initiative and "self-realization" is counterpoised, to say the least, by "over-organization" and "regimentation" of social and individual life, not to mention tendencies to relativize notions of freedom altogether in the wake of certain findings of philosophy and research.
These trends can also be identified historically as conflicting elements in the discourse on power.
From the most negative aspect of modernity (its inherent violent side, as it were), I have chosen a short excerpt from a historical text. Here, the ideal of rational action has collapsed and humanity is buried under it. The mad idea of the "new human" under a racist ideology put an end to all humanity. This should never be forgotten. Nevertheless, even after the collapse of the Nazi regime, the atrocities committed in the course of the deportation of Polish Jews in 1942 were by far not the last case of systematic mass destruction of humans in history. There were always people available who were willing to follow any instructions given to them.

Read the account of facts and put yourself in the position of one of the groups involved. Think about whether you would have been able to influence what was going on, and if so, how.

The text, an excerpt from a police report of the German occupation force in Poland in the Second World War describes in dry bureaucratic German the deportation and murdering of Jews by German police. Difficulties that the police guards had with the prisoners, but also their brutality, the unimaginable misery of the victims and their hopeless situation are documented in very sober terms (untranslatable into any other language, I think) by the victimizers themselves.


floorinstallation -Computergenerated Prints

Starting from the contemporary media experienc as an inextricabl interlacing of text and image, the project attempts a comparison and reflexive exploration of optical and textual persuasive structures, thereby acknowledging the essentially creative and meaning-assigning aspect of text within cultural production.

The classical distinction between textual-cognitive and visual-artistic function is for the most part discarded here. The underlying assumption could be that perception processing highly depends on the presence of a particular (not necessarily conscious) canon of knowledge and ethics. On the other hand, 'abstract patterns' regulating mental preselection from the profusion of impulses act as a kind of shielding conductor for the perception process.

Thus this floor installation of computer-generated prints could be described as a walk through discourses. From the diversity of meanings streaming in the flow of time, excerpts from about 100 sources and authors were used, which interweave into a dynamic fabric of meaning construction and them representation and, in their contextual relations, create interpretation zones beyond immediate contents.

Texts from important Indian authors, like for example, Shahid Amin, Upendra Baxi, Siddharth Varadarajan, and many others concentrate reflexively on special issues of the country in which the exhibition is shown. Viewers walking through the artwork will come across various different textual fields of tension and will be confronted with, partly, unpleasant and controversial statements.Historiography as a means of political justification, of arrogation and agitation is on aspect in this context, which clearly raises the question of the responsibility of the intelligentsia and their institutions.

A more subtle skepticism emerges in this works with regard to constructive structures in historiography and art history in general.
The series of ironical 'pre-prints' (which have been a central theme of the artist for some time now) refers to the fact the identity formation is inevitably perspective-bound and to the anachronistic belief in the possibility of a homogeneous outlook, something like a defined 'objectivity'. Yet the oppressive relationship of violence, pain and remembranc (F.Nietzsche) is encountered in this succession of human catastrophes with every step of the way.

Against this background, all attempts to explain the ever-changing flow of actions and causalities come down to mere rationalizations. The grandmasters of propaganda who inflicted terror on the 20th century mark, as examples, the starting point of what follows, forming, paradoxically, also the terminal point of the debate on the idea of progress in, or the human capability to learn from, history.

The central passages of the text material from which the title of the floor installation derives ("PROPAGANDA SERIES ") indexically focus on the discours on power, the potential for violence, and the manipulative capacity of texts. Here the claim for truth is an empty gesture; what is characteristic is the will for power.

Th call of fundamentalist terrorists for the random murdering of Americans and their allies, the cynical-technical report about the use of gas vans that is, of the mass-murderous machinery of mobil gas chambers once used by the SS in the Balkan (during world war II ) are shocking because of their outrageous cruelty.

More sophisticated,but no less informed by the wish for power are those texts that deliberately thwart factual accounts of historical constellations.

They are an ingenious blend of provabl fact and unprovable proposition, drawing a curtain over, mostly criminal, historical events so as to efface facts and leave matters undecided. Kafka's Gregor Samsa as a death figure (A.Zistakis), or as embodying the degradation of a once-dear member of the family to that point of disgust when elimination seems to be the only choice left, is a providential find around which media mechanisms and foe-image constructions used to reassert one's own distinctive identity are represented in many facets. In the profile of the texts, some exemplary personalities gain contour.

The critic as a prominent outsider (N.Chomsky), or the tragic-heroic pacifist and philosopher Miladin Zivotic stand for the double function of reflection and action.

Brilliance of a shadier kind characterizes the journalist's career (D.Rohd) that is fuelled out of the reportage of the horror (Srebrenica). The provocation of conspicuous luxury in a view of Manhattan (S.Rushdie), the outdated concept of the nation state (Negri /Hardt), or 'blind' followership of a fatal leader figure (R.Domanovic) provide additional levels of the textual zones.

Thus the pieces can be viewed on several different levels; they activate and, at the same time, represent different cognitive processes, creating an interactive relationship of viewing/reading/imagining/remembering/starting over again ,a creative loop of interpretation. As a "margin zone of the boundless", a loung showing materials which only partly coincide with the contents of th artwork provides a passageway and a space for recreation.

Biography and selected exhibitions

Born in Austria
Study of history at the University of Vienna
Study of architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, with Gustav Peichl

1979 First large-scale designs of objects, nature studies

1983 Füger Prize

1986 Diploma in sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts,Vienna (Bruno Gironcoli)
"Geist und Form "("Spirit and Form "),Vienna and Galerie Krinzinger, Innsbruck
"Neue Wege des Plastischen in Österreich" ("New Approaches in Austrian Sculpture "), Galerie Maerz, Linz (together with Galerie Insam,Krinzinger, Pakesch)
"Eremitage", room installation, Steyr, Austria

1987 "Jeune Peinture ", Grand Palais, Paris
Working grant in the fine arts, awarded by the City of Vienna Fine Arts Prize of Lower Austria

1988 "On Paper ", Galerie Lang,Vienna
"Balanceakte 88 " ("Balancing Acts 88 "), International Art from Lower Austria, Frauenbad, Baden/Vienna

1989 Galerie Ariadne, Vienna (one-man show) Academy of Fine Arts
Temple of Theseus, Vienna (one-man show)
Austrian Museum of the 21st Century-a 60-Day Exhibition, Vienna (organised by Oswald Oberhuber)
"In Context ", National Museum, Belgrade /Yugoslavia Modern Gallery (Museum of Contemporary Art), Ljubljana Museum of Fine Art, Skjope /Macedonia U Hybernu Art Center, Prague /Czech Republic

1990 Pawilon Wystawowy Biura Wystaw Artystycznych Art Centre, Krakow /Poland National Gallery, Bratislava /Slovakia Kunstverein, Erfurth /Germany Dum Umeni Art Centre, Brno /Czech Republic Galerie Altnöder,Salzburg /Austria Fészek Galeria, Budapest /Hungary

1991 Niederösterreiches Landesmuseun, Vienna (one-man show) Contemporary Art, from the collection of the City of Vienna, city hall, Vienna Organic and Structural Study Project, Vienna

1992 "Surface Radicale ", Grand Palais, Paris "Individual Positions -Young Austrian Artists ", Convention Ctr., Art L.A., Los Angeles /USA (curated by Lorand Hegyi) Multiple(s) Edition, L.A./Vienna

1993 Sighart House, Palm Springs,USA Academy of Applied Art, Heiligenkreuzerhof, Vienna Galerie Piltzer, Paris Konfrontationen, Museum Moderner Kunst/Foundation Ludwig/ Museum of the 20th Century, Vienna Galerie an der Brücke, Spitalskirche, Lienz
Ideas Imagenes Identidades, (one-man show) centre culural Tecla sala, Hospitalet/Barcelona /Spain

1994 Fet a Europa, Art International Dels 90,centre cultural D`Alcoi /Spain Colorstudies, Pascual Lucas espai, Arte Contemporaneo, Valencia /Spain (one-man show)

1996 Henninger House, Seefeld/Munich /Germany "Attitudes ", Galeries-Jonge Kunst, Knokke, Belgium Art-/Media-intervention /Text-Artwork-Multiple(s) Edition (L.A./Vienna), Real Art/Cimal, Valencia /Spain Aspect-Color, Galerie Insitu,Aalst, Belgium A Pascual Lucas, espai Lucas, Valencia, Spain

1997 Hedendaagse Kunst uit Oostenrijk,Cultureel Centrum De Werf, Aalst, Belgium Henninger House, Seefeld /Munich /Germany Posiciones del Arte Austriaco Actual, Sala Parpallo, Valencia /Spain

1998 ATTRAPPEN, In Situ gallery, Aalst, Belgium (one-man show) Montrouge -Vienne, Art contemporain, Montrouge-Paris PRIX DE PEINTURE, Montrouge -Paris Des Eisbergs Spitze /Museum auf Abruf, Kunsthalle Wien /Vienna Henninger House, Seefeld /Munich /Germany

1999 LINKS, SCHILDERKUNST IN EXTREMIS, Art-Centre Sittard, Provinciehuis Maastricht, Netherlands Henninger House, Seefeld /Munich /Germany

2000 PRE-PRINTS, Royal Nepal Academy-Bhanubhakta Hall, Kathmandu, Nepal (one-man show)
Positions of recent Austrian painting, Floor installation, (art and freedom), Academy of Fine Arts,Calcutta, India
Positions of recent Austrian painting, Royal Nepal Academy, NAFA Hall, Kathmandu, (effects of the Indian and Nepalese cultural inventory upon individual developments of Western contemporary art)
5 Colorstructures /Art in public space (permanent exhibition)/Collection of NÖ -Landesmuseum /Neues Amtsgebäude -Bezirkshauptmannschaft /Wiener Neustadt
Austria Notes /2 Text works -Art in public space (permanent exhibition)/Collection of NÖ Landesmuseum /reading hall ­ NÖ Landesarchiv /St.Pölten, Austria Collection of the Ministry of Art /Kameliterhof /St.Pölten,Austria

2001 PRE-PRINTS,Kunsthalle.tmp Steyr,Austria (one-man show)
Paradise/Paradise, Academy of fine Arts, New Delhi, India (one man show), (INDIA as a projection field in the western discourse production)

2002 Textfields /Battlefields Discourses -Yugoslavia Muzej Istorije Jugoslavije /Historical Museum,Belgrade, (one-man show)

2003 Attack, Kunst und Krieg im Zeitalter der Medien, (Art and War in the Age of Media), Kunsthalle Wien,Vienna, Austria

2004 HOME WITH NO WALLS /World Social Forum 2004 /Mumbai/India
Propaganda Series /(floorinstallation),Visual arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre /New Delhi,India /(one-man show)
"Handlungsanweisung ", art in public space / (permanent exhibition), Kunsthalle Wien/Karlsplatz
Vienna Translucence /Stephansplatz 6,2 large glaswalls / permanent installation,Vienna

E-mail: Steiner_Herwig@gmx.at
Tel+Fax:43 1 5458135