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RESANITA
 

DAS HAUS ALS WIRT,

RESANITA
Das Haus als Wirt (The house as a host)

In a project lasting several months entitled Das Haus als Wirt, the artist duo RESANITA analysed the flora of the KUNST HAUS WIEN. Resa Pernthaller and Anita Fuchs examined the vegetation in, around and on the building. They see the KUNST HAUS WIEN as an organism that provides a habitation, a shelter and the possibility of distribution for a variety of plant species. RESANITA has edited its research results in the form of photographs and an installation for the exhibition.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the founder and designer of the KUNST HAUS WIEN, chose to provide the inner courtyard, the façade and the roof with plentiful, luxuriant plant life. Since last September the two artists have examined how the flora of the house appears today, 26 years later. In their artistic approach they make use of scientific modes of knowledge. Documentation through photography plays a central role here.

Since the invention of the medium, photography has been put at the service of science and thus rapidly developed and perfected. Everything was mapped photographically: people, buildings, animals and with great meticulousness also the flora. Andreas von Ettingshausen (1796-1878), who participated as an Austrian envoy in Louis Daguerre's first presentation of the photographic process in Paris in 1939, photographed the cross section of a vine branch just one year later. The English botanist Anna Atkins (1799-1871) illustrated her first publication in 1843 exclusively with cyanotypes, an early photographic process. The publication Urformen der Kunst (1928) by the German photographer Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) is probably the best-known work of strictly formal plant photography.
In a scientifically oriented society, art also arises from the examination of the natural sciences and their methods. During the Renaissance - just think of the universal genius Leonardo da Vinci - interdisciplinary works between art and science were a matter of course. In recent centuries, however, there has been an increasing specialisation and strict separation of areas and disciplines. Gerald Bast, Rector of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, has pointedly stated that this is currently changing again in "Können Künstler Forscher sein" (Can artists be scientists) in 2011: "For some years now we have noticed a renewed strong interest in an attempted convergence between science and art. The interest of collaboration and/or rapprochement between science and art seems today more than ever to be a mutual one."
Resa Pernthaller and Anita Fuchs carry out artistic research – they are quite naturally researchers and artists at the same time - and in many of their projects they count on collaborations and the synthesis of knowledge. For the exhibition project Das Haus als Wirt in the KUNST HAUS WIEN RESANITA was able to document more than 230 different plant species and determine them in cooperation with botanists from the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, the University of Vienna and the Natural History Museum. Pernthaller and Fuchs have not left out the difficult to access areas on the roofs of the house and the wilderness settling there. On several screens they now show the extensive and varied photographic yield of their investigation. The photographic claim is not so much a formal-aesthetic one, but is committed to completeness. Nevertheless, these encyclopaedic pictures are simply fascinating because of their rich green colouring, the forms of the plant and leaf structures and the view of the otherwise inaccessible and therefore invisible.

RESANITA is the collaboration of two artists driven by curiosity and adventure. In their engagement with nature they want to understand things. Their projects take them to various locations - most recently the Observatoire Haute-Provence in Saint-Michel-l'Observatoire, France, where the effects of climate change are being researched in the O(3)HP project, an oak forest field study led by Ilja Reiter. From this partnership, the work Climate Bouquet developed. Implemented within the project Das Haus als Wirt, it shows an arrangement of 168 different plants as a large-format photograph on which larger-than-life grasses and flowers can be viewed in detail. With this still life they formally quote a classic genre of art history, which had its heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially in the Netherlands, but has enjoyed almost unbroken popularity ever since. The title of the work refers to the importance of plants for the creation of an intact (urban) climatic balance or to the currently virulent topic of urban planting and the natural environment in the city - a consideration that Friedensreich Hundertwasser repeatedly formulated in his works and which has not least led to the greening of the house.

The daring of the two artists had them camp on the roof of the KUNST HAUS WIEN. A photo wallpaper in the exhibition shows this temporary dwelling and research station, next to it a dozen herbaria. With this installation, RESANITA continues a long-standing project in cooperation with the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry in St. Petersburg, which houses one of the world's largest databases for grains and seeds. During their research for their project Observation Journal, the artists came across photographs of Russian botanists documenting their work situation. The scientists' postures at work are similar to those of Pernthaller and Fuchs - they kneel in the field and collect grasses and plants, which they dry and archive in the form of herbaria for the huge collection of plant DNA. With the installation at the KUNST HAUS WIEN, RESANITA quotes this approach, but adds another level of content: the plants that the artists have selected are "political plants" that they found at the KUNST HAUS WIEN. In recent history, flowers, bushes and trees have been and are continued to be used as symbols in various political groups and movements. Among them, for example, the forget-me-not, which serves the Armenians to commemorate the genocide by the Turks in 1915 and which has also been a symbol of Freemasons since the time of National Socialism. Or the red rose, which is the emblem of the Rose Revolution in Georgia in November 2003, or the white rose, which was the sign of the student resistance movement against the Nazi dictatorship, to name but a few examples.

The overall project Das Haus als Wirt, which RESANITA developed and implemented especially for KUNST HAUS WIEN, is part of a series of confrontations with urban and rural areas that the artists have been pursuing for many years. On the one hand, they are primarily interested in processes and on the other hand, they rely on collaboration. Their projects often start with an action: road trips for the purpose of plant transfer through several countries, the transport of trees from a research station or the cultivation of a field with historical seeds. These actions are linked to current social issues such as climate change, terrorism, migration and global economy, and more generally to history and politics. Nature plays an important role in this. Part of their conceptual working method is a scientific-research approach and often years of exchange with international institutions. Das Haus als Wirt will also be further developed in the course of the presentation. In cooperation with biologist and climate researcher Ilja Reiter, the climate relevance of the KUNST HAUS WIEN will be examined in July 2018 and the results will then be presented in the exhibition.
(Verena Kaspar-Eisert)

DAS HAUS ALS WIRT
21. Juni - 7. Oktober 2018
KUNSTHAUS WIEN
Untere Weißgerbstraße 13, 1030 Wien


SUPPORTING PROGRAMM
July 27, 2018, 5:00 - 7.00 p.m:
Worshop Experiments for Climate Change Research with RESANITA and the climate researcher ILJA REITER, 03HP - Oak Observatory Haute Provence / Institute IMBE and Research Federation ECCOREV.

Further programme at www.kunsthauswien.com