Taking everyday practices as a starting point, the art project “Banal Complexities” dives into complex socio-political issues such as social inequalities, sexuality, religious rituals, and civil disobedience. Four newly-formed intercultural artist duos use public art interventions to create safe zones where encounters and discussions can take place between artists, passers-by and residents in Vienna’s second district.
It’s all about collaboration! Establishing connections, conducting dialogues, fostering exchange and cooperation between artists, organisations, associations and communities are at the forefront of the art and mediation project entitled “Banal Complexities“. Artists based in Vienna will work together with artists from North Africa to develop interventions that will be presented in public space between March and September 2021. Collaborative projects by Oscar Cueto & Bassem Yousri, Margareta Klose & Nourhan Maayouf, Lisa Großkopf & Soukaina Joual, and Malek Gnaoui & Markus Hiesleitner make a stand against geographical distance, cultural differences and artistic egocentricity, and stimulate participation bya broader section of the population by means of art actions connectedto everyday life.
Between March and September 2021, philomena+ will host four collaborative art interventions in areas between Praterstern and Volkertmarkt, with the aim of promoting an exchange between different sectors of the Viennese population and creating new incentives for communal action.
This exchange is the special feature of the project, and it starts with joint development work over several months. The curators of “Banal Complexities” matched artists who live and work in Vienna with artists from North Africa with similar artistic approaches. In the following section, all eight participating artists are introduced to each other and their joint interventions in public space, which are being developed, are outlined.
Stuffed eggplants, pickled cucumbers, simits and donuts have found their way to Volkertplatz in an unusual form. The photo series “I am stuffed” even confuses veggie fans while ring-shaped seating sculptures invite people to take part in “dialogues on donuts”.
Artists Nourhan Maayouf and Margareta Klose use their artistic intervention at Volkertplatz and in the philomena+ front yard to show that cooking is indeed a collective act, and they fuel the exchange of recipes with a lively workshop programme in collaboration with the piramidops association. The artists use the preparation and preservation of food as a vehicle to explore topics such as gender roles, memories about ingredients that are common elsewhere and the migration of dishes.
Intervention at different public scales in Vienna’s 2nd district (Praterstern, Augarten, Taborstraße, Karmelitermarkt)
With their artistic intervention “Intimate Body Machine” Lisa Großkopf (*1989, lives in Vienna) and Soukaina Joual (*1990, lives in Rabat) explore the boundaries between public and private space. The project, which was developed collaboratively, deals with corporeality and challenges normativity – aspects that that reoccur in the practice of both artists. Their interactive tour of public scales in Vienna’s second district invites participants and passers-by to weigh individual body parts and recalculate their weight. A booth at the beginning of Heinestraße also makes it possible to weigh one’s own clothes and subtract it from the calculated body weight. In doing so, the weighing and measuring of human bodies and related conceptions of the ideal are taken ad absurdum.
In a photograph, the two artists give a demonstration, staging themselves weighing a body part – Lisa Großkopf in Vienna and Soukaina Joual likewise in Rabat. In cooperation with Fluc, the image is presented from June until July 2021 on the billboard facing Praterstern and the public scale positioned on this spot.
A walk with performative interventions by the artists Lisa Großkopf and Soukaina Joual together with the invited artists Veronika Merklein and Jihad Al-khattib shed a light again on the whole project.
Interventions in shop windows in Heinestraße, Lasallestraße and Praterstraße
Bassem Yousri and Oscar Cueto invited residents of Vienna’s 2nd district to share their personal stories, vicissitudes and any miracles they may have experienced along the way. Inspired by the ex-votos from his home country, Mexico, Oscar Cueto painted the stories onto small plates. The music group Luna y Son included some of the stories into their lyrics and performed them during the presentation of Oscar Cueto’s painting collection at philomena+ garden. Bassem Yousri‘s film project “Speed Date” is based on an organized encounter between him and Maria, a Bulgarian sex worker in Vienna. In the setting of a speed date, they share conversations about various topics raising questions about the body, play, happiness, and creativity.
at various bike-parks in the 2nd district of Vienna
“Wunderkorb 1694” is the title of the artistic collaboration between Malek Gnaoui (*1983, based in Tunis) and Markus Hiesleitner (*1981, based in Vienna). It refers to the term “Wunderkammer”, cabinets of curiosities that became popular among noble circles since the 14th century onwards. Instead of exotic objects, however, the “Wunderkorb 1694” contains a curious collection of sound recordings that acoustically trace the migration flows between Tunis and Vienna. A sculpture made from freshly cut willow rods will be transported by bicycle to various locations in Vienna’s public space. Passers-by are invited to put their heads into the woven “sound helmets” and immerse themselves into foreign or familiar soundscapes.
(born in Mexico City in 1976, lives and works in Vienna) studied TransArts at the University for Applied Arts Vienna. In his artistic work he develops narrative practices and reflects mechanisms that shape the concepts of history, knowledge, memory and identity. Oscar Cueto's projects are developed using a variety of techniques, from drawing to the performative installation. In order to attract the public to participate, the artist often makes the latter accessible or playable. Since 2017, Oscar Cueto has invited international curators and artists to
collaborate on his nomadic anti-museum MUME.
(born in Gabès in 1983, lives and works in Tunis) studied ceramics at the School of Art and Design Tunis and the National Center for Ceramic Arts Sidi Kacem Jellizi. Using a range of techniques including video reportage, ceramics, installation,
sound, and performance, Malek Gnaoui deals with sensitive questions about social conditions and the concept of ‘human sacrifice’ in all its forms.
(born in Vienna in 1989, lives and works in Vienna) studied at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna as well as at the Art University Linz. Her artistic work oscillates between a wide range of disciplines and encompasses diverse techniques from photography to performance art. Her projects are dedicated to the social use of photography, human behaviour in the digital world, differences and particularities of public and private space, as well as questions of sex, gender and heteronormativity.
(born in Amstetten in 1981, lives and works in Vienna) studied performing arts and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Today Markus Hiesleitner is primarily present through ecologically-motivated projects. Organic materials, and the careful use of environmental resources, are often at the core of his artistic work, as is the careful use of environmental resources. In his function as co-operator of the artist-run space Kulturdrogerie in Vienna's 18th district, he also offers other artists space in his "universe of thought and experimentation".
(born in Fes in 1990, lives and works in Rabat) is an interdisciplinary artist. She graduated from the National Institute of Fine Arts Tetouan in 2011. Her works (video, performance, painting, installations) break down boundaries between public and private space, individual and community, the inside and outside of our bodies, and artistic and everyday actions. The human body plays a major role in her work. She investigates how the body changes, connects to identity constructs or can also become the site for ideological debates.
(born in Berlin in 1993, lives and works in Vienna, Salzburg and Brussels) studied painting at the Mozarteum Salzburg, linguistics, German literature, history and politics at the University of Salzburg as well as TransArts at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and at the School of Graphic Research Brussels. Her work reflects queerfeminist themes and deals with the construction and optimisation of the self. Performative and research-based works are part of her artistic practice.
(born in Cairo in 1990, lives and works in Cairo and Sierre) is an artist whose practice focuses on photography and video. Her works are mostly autobiographical and reflect the socio-political situation of young women of the Egyptian middle class, of which she herself is a part. Through self-portraits, performances and installations, she deals with questions of gender, home, dreams of independence and contemporary relationship issues. She is currently studying Arts in Public Spheres at the Valais School of Art and Design.
(born in Algeria in 1980, lives and works
in Cairo) is a visual artist, filmmaker, and art educator. He studied painting at the School of Fine Arts - Helwan University Cairo and received his MFA from Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University Philadelphia. He works with various forms, including mixed-media installations in art galleries and public spaces and experimental and documentary films. Yousri’s work explores issues related to the relationship between the everyday details and the larger socio-political context and between form and representation in the context of the exhibition space and public space. He makes use of humour and sarcasm as a tool that can reach different audiences from diverse cultures.