Otmar Wagner

The work ‘Aesthetics of barriers’ is a mental map that the artist will continue to work on during the exhibition period. The visual exploration of world wide border walls / fences and their aesthetics is based on several essay performances that Otmar Wagner showed from 2016 to 2019 under the title of the same name in several variations and at different locations. The subject is shoreless and boundless, the artistic method pursues a strategy of ambivalence (Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen), expresses itself as a delirious association trip (Otmar Wagner) and knows no end.

“When the curator Osama Zatar asked me to contribute to the exhibition entitled NON DEGRADABLE, I thought: Oh dear, another themed exhibition with, in the end, politically correct
politically correct, pretty artistic works on plastic waste and oil catastrophes. That’s why I put a question mark after the ‘non degradable’. I liked that very much because the setting lost its determinism and opened up in different directions – up to the examination of personal mental constitutions: Can my stress, aggression and depression as a privileged system worker and functioning self-exploiter in capitalist meritocracy be relieved, and if so, how? Are prejudices, racism, neo-colonialism in me (as a heterosexual, white, ageing male) degradable, and if so, how? Great topics, but better left in self-help groups and therapy sessions. I grew up in an arch-Catholic little village in the German border region between Bavaria, Hesse, and the Electoral Palatinate, in the middle of the Cold War. My border visits and border crossings (in the Rhön, in Berlin) had – because I was on the privileged side of the wall – a certain erotic appeal. You can find that shitty, but that’s how it was. Since 1989, the dismantling of a border fortification, the number of walls and fences erected has increased about 5-fold. The artistic processing of the endless misery, the horrors, the suffering, the despair, the pain, the death in and along the death strips always means aestheticisation, and is therefore fundamentally cynical. And yet, despite Adorno’s oft-quoted remark ‘to write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric’, poems continue to be written, operas sung, pictures painted. Everything has an end, except hope. With the work AESTHETICS OF ABSTRACTION, I put into play the no man’s land between l’art pour l’art and political art.”

Otmar Wagner

born in 1966 in Germany, has lived in Vienna since 2008.

As a freelance performance artist, he mainly develops concert performances (in which he is concerned with ‘mental territories that have to be sung’) and multimedia essay performances (a term he coined for certain forms of performative-actionist discourse). In addition, he works as a stage designer, dramaturge and performer, realises radio plays and spatial installations and is involved in numerous collaborations. He is currently a lecturer in performance theory at the Graz University of the Arts.

Recent works (selection):

  • CABINET OF EXHAUSTION. Environment / Actions / Performances. (WUK performing arts at Kunsthalle Exnergasse Vienna, 2022)
  • EXCURSION INTO THE UNKNOWN. Installation / performative walk in 12 stations with instruction pieces and philosophical discourse particles (Kahlgrund near Frankfurt/Main, July – Sept. 2021)
  • HYPEROBJECTS? Wagner and Feigl are working on it… Blech & Gewebe I-VII. A Wagner-Feigl Research/Festival Project (Sophiensäle Berlin, 2020)
  • PPP presents: TOYS OF JOYLESSNESS or DISTURBANCE & DEBILITY. Virtual reality performance (liveart.dk, Copenhagen, 2021)
  • SICK IN EUROPE. Environment / concert performance. (WUK performing arts Vienna, 2019)
  • SICK WORLD #1-3 + SICK WORLD #End. Essay-performance cycle (div. venues; 2017-2019).
  • Sport Art Politics. Radio play for the Impulse Academy; in the stadium of Fortuna Cologne (Cologne, 2018), radio broadcast of the radio play on Deutschlandfunk Kultur (2019).

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