With Geistervölker, meaning “ghost populations”, Kunsthalle Wien presents a comprehensive solo exhibition of Austrian artist Ines Doujak (b. 1959, lives and works in Vienna), revolving around histories of pandemics, transmission of viruses, and their relation to global trade and to the current economic, microbiological, and ecological crises. The artist traces, in fragments, the origins of pandemics throughout history and links them to a global economy that is based on logics of extraction facilitated by colonial legal mechanisms and late capitalism.
Since the 1990s, Doujak has been developing a multidisciplinary practice that encompasses photography, performance, film, and installation and uses political theory as well as natural and human-made objects—sculpture in the broadest sense—to deconstruct the political implications of sexist and racist stereotypes. Her meticulous research and her strong storytelling ability allow her the prowess to use both science and the grotesque to denounce exploitative structures and inequalities in society.
This exhibition is both a continuation and a newly visualized manifestation of her work as an artist as well as an archivist, a researcher, and collector. In Geistervölker, the artist combines both new and old projects to create a constellation of works that conceptualize the constant and absurd movement between accumulation of capital and the impossibility to continue extracting from the Earth because it has reached the limit of what we greedily and continuously take. The textiles, videos, papier-mâché sculptures and installations on display form a narrative linking global chains of economic production, consumption, and exploitations and the present pandemics, as well as the recurrent patterns that cause and spread pandemics historically.
Geistervölker will be accompanied by a series of live performances centering around Transmission: A series of five Podcasts on Disease and Pandemics in a Distorted World (2021). In these five polyphonic podcasts, Ines Doujak and John Barker follow pandemics and disease throughout the centuries, artfully addressing timely topics like factory farming, healthcare speculation, and the relationship between the spread of disease and the development of new trade routes featuring the World Traveler and Rat, the Scapegoat. Every October Tuesday at 5 pm, visitors of Kunsthalle Wien will be invited to join a collective listening of a new podcast episode.
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