Peter Weibel – A Retrospective 1964–2014
17 October 2014 to 11 January 2015
In the late 1960s, the rejection of sociopolitical conservatism with its traditional genderand class-specific role models manifested itself in radical upheavals in the arts: unconventional thinkers began to break up and merge the hitherto strictly separated genres of art and architecture. The human body became the central medium and motif for performative and space-related forms of art that critically questioned the relationship between the individual and its surroundings and tried to redefine it in a visionary way.
It was in this milieu and in the wake of the Vienna Group and Viennese Actionism that a young art and architecture scene emerged whose protagonists, in view of the innovations in society, science, and technology, advocated experimental and alternative forms of living and production. Peter Weibel, who had been born in Odessa, was one of the bustling main figures of this scene in which artists no longer hid behind their works but made their appearance an integral part of a general concept in which actors and recipients could no longer be distinguished. In the 1960s and 1970s, the artist, curator, and art theorist, who has been Director of the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe since 1999, was one of the rebels of that special Austrian kind whose attacks on the government combined with streaks of absurdity and a Viennese mixture of applied psychoanalysis and Central Cemetery melancholy.
Weibel’s activities are not characterized by an autobiographical signature but by thematic fields and problem areas like the mechanisms of perception and thinking, the eigenwelt of apparatuses, the crisis of representation, the picture and the museum, the relationship between art, politics and economy, and the conditions of the operating system of art. In the plurality of its methods and the coherent presentation of problems, his oeuvre unfolds, in a radical vein of great rarity, new concepts of what a work and an artist is and has not only influenced many artists to date but will continue to do so in the twenty-first century.