Schleifmühlgasse 18 - 1040 Vienna 
+43-1-9207778 -

13.11.2015 - 9.1.2016
Opening: Thursday, 12th November 2015, 18h
WHERE: Galerie Michaela Stock, Schleifmühlgasse 18, 1040 Vienna

There is hardly a profession more myth-laden and, at the same time, as prestigious as that of the artist. The fact that the work of art defines its own laws, that the artist only follows his conscience and his genius by painting a picture just for the sake of itself, that they pursue the purpose of purposelessness, all these characteristics appealing to the freedom of art have – at least so it seems – given way to another practice: It is not the creation of works of art, but rather the habitus that is taught at the academies of fine arts, it is not craftsmanship and technique, but rather 'self-fashioning' – this at least is the diagnoses of various art historians and art critics. Therefore, the following aspect is in the focus of self-concept, success and the artist's right to exist: relations. Relations with museum employees and art historians, with gallery owners and exhibitors, with press people and collectors, to sum it up, with all those people who are involved in exhibiting and promoting art, giving a meaning to it and participating in the artists' success. The artistic genius is the gifted "networker" whose work may only unfold via his "good connections". He is not only concerned with economic aspects, but rather interested in prestige.

In his exhibition, Lukas Troberg (*1984) shows his "connections" – countless business cards which he has received on opening nights and other occasions over the last few years. Some influential people of action from the heart of the business have gathered here and would like to share their global art-scene friendship circles: curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, gallery owner Peter Kilchmann, Nana Bahlmann from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, collector Petch Osathanugrah from Thailand or Bärbel Vischer from the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art Vienna. But Troberg disappoints the observer; no, he does not disappoint the observer, but rather the outgoing curator, gallery owner or collector, for the cards have been meticulously yet simply framed, displaying the artistic network, but lacking the essential point: All contact details except for the name have been torn and extinct. Is this a game with systemic preconditions of art or a gesture of despair? Is it a flirt with the habitus, as described above, or a conscious liberation of the constraints of self-promotion?

A glance at other works by the artist is worthwhile in order to highlight this fundamental approach, a motivation that is inherent in all his works. Lukas Troberg's artistic origins can be traced back to graffiti and Street Art, a picture format that is per se critical of its deliberate sub- and countercultural aspects. The interventions in the public space intend to operate beyond commercial and consumer desire. And if, by applying the means of self-authorization, the whole city may be a potential exhibition space, a sheer countless number of possibilities of artistic space appropriation evolves. The balance between resistance and adaptation as well as the expansion of the artistic generic term by interactive, social and temporary aspects were also the focus of Troberg's studies in Erwin Wurm's sculpture class at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. There he realized that a translation of graffiti and Street Art with its typical drawings, symbols and fonts into other artistic processes could not be reached by perfecting them onto canvas. For the future, he thus opted for an artistic approach with process and abstraction, form and moldability.

Drips (2013) marked the beginning of figures that were strongly based on spraying practices, sculpturally retracing the vertical and horizontal lining of spraying colors. If despite the rigidness of aluminum, the dripping of the color can be imagined, its flowing, dibbling, leaking, the series Buffs (2013) does, supposedly, not make reference to Street Art. High-gloss varnished surfaces in form of shaped canvasses and their expansion of the classic panel by the object-like rather allude to constructive-concrete traditions. However, "buff" is the term describing the cleaning of unwanted graffiti from house walls, with the cleaning process turning them into "graffiti phantoms". Troberg transposes these schematic surfaces remaining on the cleaned house walls onto chipboards, like a reminiscence of his own sprayer past. The cleaning of house façades that have been illegally decorated with graffiti was quirkily turned into a performance dealing with the cleaning as an administrative offence by Troberg in 2012. Highly efficient, with techniques that are used when spraying large-scale graffiti, he quickly cleaned a parking police car before the arriving police could intervene. If the visualization of symbols of façade cleanings is characterized by a certain degree of persistence, this is a highly ironic act given that the vigilante himself is restored to more tidiness. By violating the ban, the action reflects a right that is not only persistently demanded for by Reclaim-the-Streets activists: the right to creative self-determination. Troberg strains his actions to the border of legality. His mingle-mangle of objects stolen from the public space, which, transformed into pieces of art, are then returned to the public, is not only a plea for an alternative-critical participation in and co-design of our surroundings, but also represents a sensitization for the chances of aesthetic experience. Troberg found a concise metaphor for this criticism of the private seizure of urban space with his performance 100 against 100 (2012): He excavated 100 liter soil both from a private property and a public park. The private soil was then filled into the public park, and the public soil equally found its place on the private property. The practices of secret exchange are dialectic on various levels: hidden and evident, spontaneous and conceptual, aesthetics and ethics, irony and seriousness.

Good Connections equally raises the question of intimacy and publicity. What are the modalities for an artist to exhibit and thus to step into the public? What contacts does he need in order to be successful? By publically exhibiting the business cards, Troberg lifts the lid on the discretion which usually covers the networks of the art business. What he puts in the focus and into question is exactly what is usually concealed in the background of an exhibition, powerfully operating beyond the work of art. Awarding a dimension of emancipatory power to art also means an alienation of constraining regulations – which has principally been an essential part of art since the classic avant-garde. Refusal assumes many roles, either directed against the expectations of the audience, against conventions, customs and canonized traditions, or addressing the art system itself, the "art moloch" and the constraints linked thereto, also including the constraint of "networking". Good Connections may be accused of only unfolding the impetus of a sovereign, emancipated approach to relations and networks with a security web, because the exhibition is presented in the rooms of yet another contact, a gallery. But looking at the history of artistic resistance between the art of refusal and the refusal of art, we notice one paradox: Art that is critical of the system can only be effective if it productively implements its refusal in the system. It cannot disengage from the dilemma that any form of negation directed against the canon will only be placed in the canon again. But if irony remains, as it does in the works of Lukas Troberg, in order to create the conditions for returning to art its own laws, to be able wo work within the system as an artist, one actually can forget about "good connections".

Dr. Judith Elisabeth Weiss/ art historian and ethnologist

Lukas Troberg | press GOOD CONNECTIONS
Lukas Troberg | press photo 1 | Good Connections, Lukas Troberg
Lukas Troberg | press photo 2 | Good Connections, Andrea Jungmann
Lukas Troberg | press photo 3 | Good Connections, Petch Osathanugrah
Lukas Troberg

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