Julia Seyr and Michael Bürgermeister in the Vondelbunker. Day 6,7,8

21. November 2014 - 07:03 Uhr

Previously on WeAreNotSisi: It was – until  September 2014 – the most impressive artistic performance I have ever witnessed in my live: Julia Seyrs „The Capitalistic Innocence of Tastelessness“ (between fans and admirers simply known as „Die Rouladenperformance“) that  took place in 2007 in the Wichtelgasse in Vienna. It was very slow, it took very long, it was never boring, it was very colourful, it was very quiet and the sound that was heard was intriguing. There was a lot of smell, there was a lot of humour, there was a lot of tragedy, there was a fantastic story around it. There was not a movement too much and not a movement too little. It was perfect. (The end of the 1 hour performance you can see HERE – so you get a tiny tiny little glimpse of it).

I never saw work of Julia Seyr again, I did not follow what she was doing further, I even forgot her name. I  did hear some good stories, though, once in a while from Bibi Lukitsch who brought me to the Wichtelgasse back in 2007. That’s why I knew Julia Seyr was still working as an artist. So when I made the decision to organize an exhibition one thing was clear: I would try everything that Julia Seyr would be part of it. Things had changed a bit and so not only Julia Seyr, but Julia Seyr and Michael Bürgermeister agreed to perform three consecutive days in a row in the first week of WeAreNotSisi. Very exciting indeed.

So 7 years after I’ve seen her in the Roulade (we never actually talked or met), Julia and me shook hands and had lunch together with Michael Bürgermeister on the day of the Kick Off, met to prepare the performances the day after and were ready to go! on Friday for the first run.

Sunset Performance NR 1 and 2 and a Sunday Performance.

The official opening times of WeAreNotSisi where “Every day except Thursday from 12-18″, but as for so many other days of the show we made overtime these days.  The sun on day 1 set around 19:45, so that was where we set up the first third of the performance.  Three monitors where standing in front of the  area where Julia Seyr was working. In the three monitors the Video „Vondel 1 – Homage to Joost van den Vondel“ by Michael Bürgermeister was screening simultanously. The Video was a view into a melancholic paradise with bits of Vondels’ huge and diverse Oeuvre read by the Michael Bürgermeister. During the performance he stood by the side, filming without moving. On the following days we heard more Vondel and saw more caleidoscopic glimpses of for instance market-beauties or wedding sadness.

We did not know how many guests to expect, so while Julia started the show, I brought all the design-mobiliaer standing around in the Bunker to make it comfortable for those who were there to see her assembling i.e. paper, spraypaint, egg, flour, confetti, glitter, wire, string, plastic flowers on the floor without saying a word.

Time to Zoom Out: The sun is setting. We are in the Vondelbunker. The Vondelbunker is an air raid shelter built during the Cold War in the Vondelbrug that is bypassing the Vondelpark. Many of such shelters were built all around Amsterdam in the 50s and 60s, but very soon the municipality realized that the case of emergency seemed to have been postponed for quite a while and so they were looking for new ways of using it. So at some point it became a youth center, where some of the now old or dead Amsterdammers had their first experiences with drugs and intense live (music)-performances. Naturally this couldn`t be tolerated for too long so after one or the other scandal the youth center/club/disco was closed down and the bunker left behind for some more exclusive usage. Until 3 years ago, when the Amsterdam-based collective Schijnheilig took over the space as a “broedplaats” from the municipality to create an open space for all sorts of highly political initiatives.

Time to Zoom In: After we finished to clean up the rests of the performance, I made an interview with Julia Seyr at the spot where the performance took place – surrounded by Micha Willes’ “Joseph Beuys’ Bericht an die Akademie” (2014), by Garaceks’ untitled assembly of PO-foam plofkippen (made in the Bunker while we were building up the show) by Hari Schütz’ triptychon “Roma Napoli” (1986) and the rest of Julia Seyrs performance hanging on a wire just in front of us. She told me, that, on the third day performing, she realized,there was something very personal she worked off in the performance and that on the last day she realized what the performance actually is about.

Starting point, Julia Seyr further explained, was a myth of a girl imprisoned in a palace,  who is forced to live in superabundance there. She is bored and thus is punished by the gods because of her boredom. The performance was about ingratitude and perishableness – a reason why she used the symbols “cross”, “egg”, “flower”. While working on this text, recollecting the three performances for days, I realized that Julia Seyr and Michael Bürgermeister created a deeply melancholic and utterly beautiful vaccuum out of over abundance in this little corner of a brutal space called Vondelbunker. Clearly that was exactly the plan, which is very, very & very impressive. And furthermore mercilessly radical in our age reigned by an all-encompassing horror vacui. Chapeau!

Time to Zoom Out: It’s dark in the Vondelpark, there is people sitting under the Vondelbrug and around it, playing music, talking, hanging out. Sometimes, the really brave ones even light a fire. As most of the other parks in Amsterdam the Vondelpark is also not closed and shut at night. So you can use it as a highway or hangout all through the night. The park was founded by some rich industrials and bankers 150 years ago. They erected a statue of Joost van den Vondel there, so people started to call the park Vondelpark and in 1880 the name was made official.  Mr. van den Vondel was a poet who pulished his work in the 17th century.

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We Are Closed, but We Are Working. Day 5 – September 18, 2014

18. November 2014 - 22:16 Uhr

Previously on WeAreNotSisi: We were working very concentrated and very smoothly, we reached the point where we knew – we will make it. At the end of the day, the night before the Kick Off, the guys from Stapel.tv came along – all the way from Den Haag! – to bring the 3 TVs for the performances at the weekend (and for the Video Installation that will follow the performances). On the next day we had a delightful Kick Off of the show, with the art where it belongs and an interested crowd to look at it. Not to forget my personal highlight on the Kick-Off-Day: I organized, that the Gemeente Amsterdam picked up the grofvuil from the Vondelbunker. After 4 or 5 phonecalls, some een moment geduld alstublieft en a lot of very nice municipial-conversations during the week, it finally really happened. I couldn’t have been more happy…

Grofvuil-Video

The next day after the Kick Off, Thursday, the Bunker was closed, but anyway there were things going on underground. Julia Seyr and Michael Buergermeister came along in the afternoon and we made everything ready for their 3 performances that would take place on September 19, 20, 21. I met the two already a day before, we ate together which was a very pleasant break within the madness of the last hours of fixing the exhibition. This meeting was more relaxed, we had time and peace to prepare everything for the exhibtion and after that, the Bunker was closed when it was still daylight outside.

What a pleasure!

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KICK-OFF!! ongoing…

17. November 2014 - 23:35 Uhr

WWW.WEARENOTSISI.COM

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First and Last Holiday-Blog-Post. Day 3 and a Cutback.

16. November 2014 - 22:54 Uhr

Previously on WeAreNotSisi: We did some computer work and began to think about the „We“ that we are forced to be for this project. It is important but at the same time such a boring and mind-stultifying work to think about those generalisations, clichees and random attributions, so we postponed to think about that further for now and concentrated on the more essential stuff. But surely the „Austrian“ will be back at some point. In the evening the first artists arrived from Vienna in Amsterdam – Micha Wille, Catharina Bond & Garacek.

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„If you weren’t my friend and if I didn’t know I can trust you, I would have left immediately!“, Wille said to me a day or two after the Kick Off (that hasn’t happened yet – tomorrow!!!). We thought we had brought the space into a state that is easily good enough for WeAreNotSisi, but those who did not have the romanticised view of the general bunker-fan, but the view of the artist who wants to present her work there, those knew there was still a whole lot to be done. So Bond and Wille took a walk after seeing the room, I fixed the ventilation that was out for 2 days to make a further stay within the premises possible, and than the second phase began: more white-painting, more cleaning, more throwing stuff away. We had never worked together in this constellation and it worked perfectly. Everybody knew what had to be done without many words that had to be dropped. So we were fast and after the lunchbreak, I kept fixing stuff in the bunker, while the rest began to unpack the art and start thinking about where to put what. The interesting part has begun…

Let’s take an important view cut-back at this moment. Unpacking the art? Which art? And how did it get there? This brings us back to September 12, 2014. We got up early, still holding on to the idea that we would go „wildplakken“ every morning. While the rest is packed in plastic and running through the city we would put our dirtiest clothes on to plak the city. We learned at the Ijzerwinkel that there is posteroorlog out there and indeed – even the wildplakzuilen were wrapped in commercial advertisement from the multinationals which decided to flood the city with their messages. Thats why we wanted to be out there every morning to strike back. Well, we didn’t but at least we gave it this one shot. While we were filling our jerrycan with best Amsterdammer Grachtenwater from the Singel next to the Munttoren and mixed it with the glue, I received a call that „in 15 minutes“ the art will be unloaded on the Vondelbrug – the bridge in which we were about to spend the next couple of weeks. So we raced through the city, arrived exactly when the guy with his overfull transporter arrived and minutes later the art was on the bridge.

I did not have a key for the bunker yet, but there was the most splendid summer-morning-sun that dried our sweat and made it acceptable to wait for something to happen so we could actually go into the bunker. Well, Sam Heady and Martin were both preparing the first show of Sin Sin Collectives’ Jarry Unchained as part of the FreeFringeFestival so we were able to get in and store the stuff. Lucky Bastards we are.

Meanwhile Freiherr von Wrede arrived to start the wildplak-action with a few hours delay. We made a very small round out of the park, over the Museumplein and back via the Stedelijk Museum into the bunker. It was fabulous even though we knew the next morning the multis will have overplakked us without any mercy. But we do strongly believe: „De plakplaatsen zijn alleen beschikbaar voor niet-commerciële aankondigingen en vrije meningsuiting.“ Duidelijk?

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We Are Austrians! Part 1. Day 2 – September 15, 2014

15. November 2014 - 22:15 Uhr

Previously on WeAreNotSisi: We received the key and freaked out, I sprayed a whole bottle of toxic Anti-Fungi-Chemical on the wall of the room with fresh-air-tanks and the bikes to fill them and Marieke Verkoelen dropped by to paint this toxic room afterwords. So while we were both diminishing our expectancy of life there, Andi was trying different ideas of how to hang the art (Note: bunker-walls are made of armoured concrete). Jay Tronic made pictures,  that should be with us soon.

Because of our long night after day 1, we did computer work at home on day 2, which needs no documentation. So let’s talk concept today for the first time. I’ve uploaded the original concept on the website (here) and as it is in German I just pick one point out of it once in a while and present it here. One of the goals of WeAreNOtSisi is to help to answer the question: Who actually  is this „We“ that is  Not Sisi? As we are talking about a project involving artists living and working in Austria, that is the logical first assumption: „We“ = „The Austrians“. Who on earth is that? Let’s get the first answer from those who know it best, because they have to sell Austria to the rest of the world: the Austrian Tourism-Industry. In a folder from April 2013, published by the “Österreich Werbung” we find an overview of the „genetic code“ of the Austrian. Here we go:

Here a little translation of what it says:
We are masters of the compromise that we inherited from the imperial Vielvölkerstaat.

Lockerheit – Looseness. We are relaxed. Easy-going.
zuvorkommend – obliging. We are courteous without being submissive.
Gefühl des Lebenlassens – adulating. We are good in making you feel at ease.
Lustvolle Unterhaltung – We have learned to treat strangers visiting us very well.
Gelassenheit – we look on the bright side of life.

Our mentality – “a melange of german organisation and thoroughness, the Slavic soul and the Hungarian, Bohemian and Italian way of life.

I think that’s enough for today, let’s envision what the Art may look like produced by those people until the Kick Off of the show in 2 days and see if it will be exactly as we expected.

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Key, Euphoria & Aleksandr Brener. September 14, 2014

14. November 2014 - 19:40 Uhr

After I have been working as a vrijwilliger a couple of times in the bunker, I knew that it is a very very very very intriguing but difficult place. You actually don’t have any chance to outplay it. It always wins. But once you know that, you can prepare yourself to at least get a draw in the fight Bunker vs. Guyswhothinkcoldanddustyspotwithoutsunlightisgreat. So I was prepared. Why was I prepared? Because Andi Hellweger came all the way from Austria to work 24/7 for the first 10 days of the project. What were his first impressions as he saw the room the first time that day? I’ll ask him and write it down here later.

We were lucky. After the Free Fringe Festival and the “My favorite F-Word”-exhibition the place looked more tidied up than I’ve ever seen it before. And still, once we began digging into the details a massive amount of work grew in front of us. NO. A massive amount of possibilities, which lead to the only possible reaction: Euphoria. So we were running around in the place like crazy, trying stuff, looking at every room a million times and inventing even more scenarios of what would be echt really really great. Obviously almost nothing of it happened in the end, but after our first full night in the Vondelbunker (it happened to be our last luckily) we knew that it will work out eventually.

Cheesy, isn’t it? How about that – the Facebook-Post at 01:15 a.m:

We received the key of the Bunker today. Still sitting there trying to grasp this mindblowing space (this feeling of amazement will not go away, as the bunker is different every day – no matter what happens there). Where to start: thanks to the pals from Schijnheilig for trusting us. Thanks to the organizers and artists from FreeFringe for great theatre (we couldnt see much, but toch iets) and for giving us the bunker with such good vibes and tidy as hell (is it tidy in hell?). Thanks to the Fucking Bastards for leaving the parels of the hellhole, we will treat them with the utmost respect. And thanks for the organizers and artists of the exhibition “My favorite F-Word” for waiting until tomorrow with removing the art. Program is still not online, deadline missed again, but we are working on it. … … .. . aren’t we?”?”?

Or this:

In the preface of the little special edition „Een deftige Parade“, published by „De Groene Amsterdammer“ on the occasion of an exhibition curated by Rudi Fuchs in Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden, museum director Meta Knol writes over a relevant exhibiton she only knows from the catalogue that supposedely stands in her bookshelf since ages: „Ik stel me de tentoonstelling voor als een visueel gedicht“. Which means something like: I envision the exhibition as a visual poem.

I like that idea, because it can – lets hope it does in this case – transform the ones that organize/curate/build an exhibition into poets. This is plausible, if you see the (real) poet as somebody who does not necessarily has to write poems or texts or words at all but as someone who becomes a poet by the way she or he talks, walks, sits, works. Or simply through the way she or he lives. If we see it like this, the poem and it’s creator(s) are more connected to a body and it’s presence than to a product of the mind. It is not a „creative mind“ that is so much embraced and loved by the money-industries these days but it is present as a moving, eating, drinking, shitting, pissing, sweating, laughing, dancing, crying, talking, kids-producing, thinking, mess-producing and up-tidying body that works on the poem in a space that in itself is always more than the ingenious „blank page“. No matter how white you paint the walls. (And without any doubt in a space like the Vondelbunker). If you take this seriously the whole working process (organizing, building up, opening, guiding through or „letting it see“, closing down, wrapping up, documenting)  becomes a poetic act, a form of “resistance in action” (I would obviously call it hinwegsetzung in action) an „ultra-active invasion into the world, an attempt to totally change it, to completely transform it“ as Aleksandr Brener put’s it in his text Obossanny pistolet, that he wrote while being in prison in the Netherlands, after spraying a dollar-sign on a painting of Kazimir Malevich in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

If we dig into Breners’ further into Breners prison-notes about openness; poetry and action or democratic art we will find more about this obscure poet and what I see discribed here are I would call the “total artist”: People who „feel the grubbing of chaos under their soles like nobody else, the rolling of the heavenly bodies and the immobility of the sun. Highwaymen they are, Raging Rolands. Death follows their ways. This is not romantic tattle. Some people are related with the damp soil and not everybody manages to sit at the same table with them. […] They live from their passions, and this is a huge punishment, a heavy burden. […] They have something stubborn, something tremendously unruly.  […] And yet they are sensitive and unbelievably fragile and ready for an unreasonable infatuation that can be their undoing. This has all almost vanished from the face of the earth. Together with love, together with the Mensch.

In certain cases (the NotSisi case?) this positions can stand side by side with the more worldly idea of the curator beeing a catalyst and sparring partner that is helpful to artists as Hans-Ulrich Obrist put it in an Interview once.

We’ll see how this worked out…

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WeAreNotSisi = International Effort

16. August 2014 - 07:37 Uhr

The project evolves – and finally the new main text on the website presents it as what it turned out to be. A joint-venture of two collectives active in two different European cities – Hausbank and Schijnheilig. It is great to see how a simple and quite kleingeistig question like “What do I and others think about Austria” can lead to a vibrant international effort if all people involved dare to make this step. Indeed, not many meals cook well in their own gravy (Haha, I doubt that’s proper English – the artistic director of the Kremser Donaufestival said in an Interview that inspired this text: “Das Kochen im eigenen Saft tut nur ganz wenigen Gerichten gut”)  and it is great that we are able to cook many Süppchen at the same time and see how they match. Mo(o)izeit!

M.S.

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37 days left – time to answer some FAQs

11. August 2014 - 20:39 Uhr

Money and time is running through our fingers and this can only mean one thing: we are getting there! We are excited like a bag full of hamsters and can’t wait for September 17 when WeAreNotSisi will receive guests for the first time in the Vondelbunker. The program for the three weeks will be live soon, as well as the posters and other goodies that help to spread the word. For now we answered some FAQs about WeAreNotSisi. Check it out.

1) What is WeAreNotSisi?
It is an exhibition-project in the Vondelbunker in Amsterdam. It lasts three weeks and
in those three weeks works of art will be shown from 25 artists who live and work in Austria. As the Vondelbunker is small and because the programm of the venue goes on, the exhibition is a rotating one.

2) What is a „rotating exhibition“?
It means that each individual work of art will not be public in the bunker all the time and will not be at the same spot all the time. Some works move within the Vondelbunker, some develop while the exhibition is on, some will only be seen for a very short period of time. There will be a thorough documentation of these changes that will be visible on the website www.wearenotsisi.com.

3) What kind of art can I expect?
Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Performance, Design, Computer-Art, DIY-Madness, Video and stuff not fitting in any genre really.

4) Are the artists participating students/young/old?
It is a mix. Some just finished art-acadamy and are at the beginning of their carreer, some are in the business for a couple of years now, but would still fit into the box „young artists“, some are well established artists exhibiting since 20, 30, sometimes even 40 years.

4) How did „WeAreNotSisi“ start?
The concept and idea for the exhibition is from Manuel Schmaranzer. He moved from Vienna to Amsterdam last year and was surprised about the picture the Dutch had about Austria – being a stage for Apres-Ski-Parties and imperial Sisi-Fairy-Tales in a flawless Sound-of-Music decor.
In addition he was surprised about the answers he himself gave on questions addressed to him, because the longer he was away from home the more those answers seemed not to fit the „real picture“. So he invited artists living in Austria to show the Dutch how they deal with the issue of „Me“ and „We“.

5) What is „WeAreNotSisi“ aiming for?
a) To provide the participating artists with the freedom and space to do what they want.
b) To establish a project that goes beyond common ideas on what „an art exhibiton“ could be.
c) To connect the independent Dutch and Austrian (art-)scenes.
d) To start a process that leads into an exhibtion in Austria in autumn 2015.
e) To provide the participating artists with the freedom and space to do what they want.

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Facebook – Server – Holiday

31. Juli 2014 - 14:25 Uhr

Dear Friends of WeAre NotSisi,

after thinking and re-thinking, we do have a Facebook-Account now and WeAre NotSisi is happy to become friends with all the blue-blooded people out there – check it out.

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Apart from that we are happy to collect material from which you think it could be a contribution to the website, please contact us via office{at}wearenotsisi.com to exchange files. We will have a lottery and all the contributors get the chance to win something original. We do not want to use youtube, etc. to present the audio, video, pics, texts. But we will do it directly from the website, storing the files on our dear server which lies safe and cool approx. 666 metres beneath Viennas’ Saint Stephan’s Cathedral. Thanks to netm for providing this exclusive service.

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But before all that – - – a break. WeAre NotSisi is back August 10 and can’t wait to have loads of “Freundschaftsanfragen” or an exploding inbox after the return from the analogue world. So long…

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Inofficial Concept Online

13. Juli 2014 - 08:07 Uhr

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