An Exhibition of a Study on Knowledge

Artists: Rossella Biscotti (IT) . Marjolijn Dijkman (NL) . Nikolaus Gansterer (AT) . Toril Johannessen (NO) . Pilvi Takala (FI) . Haegue Yang (KR) . Gernot Wieland (AT)

Curated by: Margit Neuhold (AT) and Fatos Ustek (TR/GB)

Forum Stadtpark Graz:

Opening: Friday, April 13, 2012. 7:00 pm

Duration: 14. 4. – 12. 5. 2012

Part of the festival: aktuelle Kunst in Graz: 4. – 6. 5. 2012



scientia potestas est

Francis Bacon



This exhibition brings together seven artistic positions concerned with the conceptualisation of knowledge within the framework of current streams of thinking and researching. As a study, the exhibition uses a rather performative approach towards the domain, the notion, and the production of knowledge as a non-static entity; hence, besides putting works on display, the exhibition activates spaces of encounter through a series of events and specially developed performances.


The preoccupation of thinking about knowledge is inherently marked by the current dichotomies of production in the world around us; that is in such a way that the term information society is being replaced by ‘knowledge society’, where the notion of production of knowledge receives appraisal. The knowledge society, designed for livelong learning, serves as foundation of the present capitalist order, of cognitive capitalism, which foregrounds multiplicity evoked through cognitive work in knowledge economies. Here knowledge is no longer a tool but becomes an actual ‘product’. Such economies, which function interdisciplinarily to a large extent, involve a broad range of specialists: economists, computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, geographers, chemists and physicists, as well as cognitivists, psychologists or sociologists. For the knowledge flows generated by them, livelong learning, prescient education and communication are markedly fundamental. Currently, we witness how education stratifies societies and that it plays an important role in the class struggles at schools and universities. Self-learning methods are becoming increasingly significant as precarious developments in public education and fields of knowledge-production have lead to the privatization of knowledge as well as to restricted access to education.


Playing on the double meaning of the word ‘study’, the exhibition questions the intellectual processing of reality perception, from which, in a next step, technologies depart and in turn create both knowledge and actual worlds. Yet were do we turn upon searching for a definition of knowledge? Most commonly knowledge is understood and referred to as a familiarity with something. That includes facts, information, descriptions or skills acquired through experience or education, or, in other words: knowledge is understood as cross-linked information. In empirical research, knowledge is equally a theme of natural and social sciences: psychology investigates how knowledge is stored and interconnected; neurosciences explore the brain’s structure, its sensory and its neural networks; pedagogy and social sciences scrutinize ways of how knowledge is gained, mediated and made available. Needless to say, within philosophy there is no consensus as to the a conclusive definition of what knowledge means. However, epistemology addresses questions as to how knowledge is generated, which cognitive processes are possible, or to what extent a given subject or entity can and may be known.


About the Exhibition


Amidst the changes in the production and setting of knowledge, the exhibition as a study brings together seven international artists. Their artistic practices expand across domains of critical thinking to bring out scientific, statistical, discursive, empirical, playful or artistic perspectives on knowledge. Aiming at encapsulating the ephemeral (spec. knowledge), the exhibition is rather geared towards investigating the concept of ‘knowledge’ at large than towards merely displaying conceptual objects.


By way of her artistic practice, Italian artist Rossella Biscotti consistently takes (mainly historical) social or political events as her starting points. Her encounters with incidents from the past are rooted in journalistic or other forms of documentation which she meticulously investigates, further develops and unfolds. Biscotti’s works transform the found documents as fragments of individual histories into reflections on identity at large, on how we relate to reality and depict memory. The exhibited Selected sections of a human brain (2009–2010) shows photographic reproductions of the first ever photographs oft he human brain, taken by G. Jelgersma at the University of Leiden (1908–1911). His aim was to create a scientific tool for psychoanalysis and in particular for the study of memory. Through the indexing the brain structure, Biscotti’s piece not only illustrates but also speculates about the as yet undiscovered ‘tools’ for, and acts of, thinking. Beyond objectifying so highly complex an organ, Biscotti brings into play the notion of inter-dependability, juxterposing it with how photographic paper physically reacts in a humid environment.

LUNÄ (2011) by Marjolijn Dijkman (based in Brusseles and Rotterdam) pays tribute to the Lunar Society – a group of thinkers, researcher, artists and philosophers as well as the first industrialists, who epitomised eighteenth-century Enlightenment in Birmingham and beyond. Among the society’s members were, amongst others, James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood, Joseph Priestley, Matthew Boulton and Erasmus Darwin. LUNÄ is a reproduction of the original society’s monthly roundtable on the evenings before a full moon, where they entusiastically discussed their love and strive for exploration, knowledge, collecting and for the potential for progress. In the exhibition, LUNÄ acts as an agent in the dissemination of knowledge through the scheduled and self-initiated events and meetings that takes place around the table provided.

!! LUNÄ is open to bookings, to host your exploration of various content and expansion of knowledge among peers and colleagues and friends. You can book the table for your seminar, workshop, lecture roundtable, reading group, jour-fixe … during the exhibition. Please e-mail your request to

Nikolaus Gansterer (based in Vienna) focuses on how scientific approaches can be translated and transposed into the artistic field, thus revealing immanent structures of interconnectedness. He collects, orders and studies diagrammatic images and symbols from various sources – which are an integral part of our daily perception – to investigate how information is visually constructed and conveyed within these forms. By way of performative redrawing and redoing, he has developed Drawing a Hypothesis, a multi-layered body of works. In Figures of Thought (2012), the exhibited form consists of two modular components “The Table of Contents” and the “Index of Figures”. The latter was developed with regard to Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, where associative images – which here become Figures of Thought – were collected and in the course of the project emerged as a visual response to the contributions.

Nikolaus Gansterer poses the question of what happens when figures are removed from their original context, what potential for action this might unleash.


As opposed to Gansterer, Bergen-based artist Toril Johannessen creates diagrams. In her series Words and Years (2010–2011), Johannessen goes through entire volumes of journals or news magazines from their first to latest issues and maps the frequency of selected words. Her analytical approach offers a different form of deriving knowledge which unfolds through investigations of carefully selected terms. Observed over a given period of time, a variety of diagrams – which function as strategic tools to visualize empirical data – alternatively point towards world affairs, societal change or shifts in, as well as the introduction of, new vocabulary. Concurrently they revaluate the respective volumes’ theoretical and historical relation to the world up to the present day. The segmentation of significant yet seemingly irrelevant vocabulary marks a certain position in the course of knowledge production, where a new or differen perspective is introduced into the picture through the depicted vocabulary.


In her work Players (2010), Finish artist Pilvi Takala (based in Amsterdam) portrays a professional online-Poker community in Bangkok, consisting of six juveniles, either European or American. However, the artist slips into the roles of the poker players. A voice-over narration introduces the players and their daily routines: we witness parties, a luxury hotel, helicopter rides or games such as pool, ping pong or Nintendo Wii. Traditional societal rules are replaced by analytical or systemic methods and manifest themselves when it comes to paying a bill or organising tickets: the community practices probability theory, which conditions the Poker game, through methods such as flipping cards or shuffling credit cards. Hence, through speculating and taking risks, players bring a certain aspect of playfulness to the state of knowing. The irregular relation of the content to the domain of knowledge is juxtaposed by the narrative in a way in which knowledge of cards predicate the living.


Hague Yang has reworked single pages of used schoolbooks for subjects such as social studies or general engineering from her home country Korea. By deleting the schoolbooks’ original texts she made the circles, lines and letters drawn by anonymous pupils productive. The individual scribbles might suggest both a struggle with the required process of understanding as well as a silent protest. The re-contextualisation of the single sheets in the 16-part series Traces of anonymous pupil authors (2001) seems to suggest the importance of alternative and subjective readings of given structures (such as institutionalised education) and models. Yet, how could one reasse this series more than ten years after it was produced? A possible answer is that such a kind of mediation of knowledge reflects the current trends of de-schooling and un-learning that experiment with different processes of learning.



The invitation to contribute to the current exhibition on the one hand prompted Gernot Wieland to question reality and the respective processes that generate or establish what may be understood as ‘commonly accepted reality’. On the other hand it inspired him to challenge hegemonial structures of knowledge. The work I follow Memories (2012) investigates the correspondence of Maxime Leroy and Sigmund Freud on the subject of a dream by René Descartes. This dream inspired Descartes to depart on a new way of scientific thinking, at the end of which we encounter modernity. Leroy wrote a letter to Freud describing Descartes’s dream, which Freud tried to analyse. For the film I follow Memories, Gernot Wieland slightly modified this text. Michel Foucault critised Descartes’ philosophy of “machine man” for laying the groundwork for disciplinary processes and power. Wieland is interested in the fact that such (power) principles derive from a dream.


Further information:

—-Opening Event:

Lecture Performance “Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis” with Emma Cocker and Nikolaus Gansterer.


—- Saturday April 14th, 16:00

LUNÄ Meeting: Current topics in Quantum physics.
In conversation: Univ.-Prof Dr. Erwin Fiala, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hohenester

Hosted by Marjolijn Dijkman and Fatos Ustek (In english)
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Part of the festival aktuelle kunst in graz: 4. 5. – 6. 5. 2012.
Extended opening hours: Fr. 6 – 11 pm; Sa. 11 am – 7 pm; and So. 11 am – 5 pm.

Friday, May 4, 2012, 6.30 pm

Lecture Performance “On Thievery and Walls” by Gernot Wieland and artist talk with Manuela Ammer.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012, 11 am
Tour and Conversation with Manuela Ammer

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This project is supported by: Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur, Vienna, Kultur Steiermark, Mondriaan Fund, Graz Kultur, HS Art Service Austria GmbH, Vienna.

***** LUNÄ table will be open for bookings for meetings, classes between 13.4. – 12.5.2012 through