Launch Event: Wednesday 16 January 6-8.30pm/ All Welcome
Associated Events Listed Below
Democracy is in a state. This first UK solo exhibition by Vienna-based artist Katrin Plavčak comes at the start of the year that sees the United Kingdom on the verge of a dramatic break with the European Union. The exhibition of new and recent works will conclude with a live event on Friday 29 March, that will feature the musical trio Chicken (Plavčak, Hoffman, Ganglberger) who will play out the final day – or not – of the Brexit process.
Haus der Lose / House of Lots refers to systems of democracy, practiced since ancient Athens, whereby citizens selected by lot – through random sortition, rather than by public election – actively participate in what still function in certain countries as ‘People’s Assemblies’ that are convened to resolve the major issues of the day. The exhibition is partly inspired by the writings of the Belgian author David Van Reybrouck, whose book Against Elections: The Case for Democracy (pub. Die Bezige Bij, 2013) offers a convincing diagnosis for the failures of contemporary democracy, and makes the argument that our reliance upon present forms of electoral systems to provide us with representative leadership, has led to growing voter disillusionment with an increasingly narrow field of career-politicians jockeying for positions in power, across Europe and beyond.
“Elections are the fossil fuel of politics…if we don’t urgently reconsider the nature of our democratic fuel, a huge systemic crisis threatens. If we obstinately continue to hold onto the electoral process at a time of economic malaise, inflammatory media and rapidly changing culture, we will be almost willfully undermining the democratic process.” from Against Elections: The Case for Democracy by David Van Reybrouck.
Directly engaged within this broad political context, Plavčak works with a sense of both urgency and optimism, offering through her paintings personal visual responses to current events as they occur. As Silvia Eibmayr comments on the artist’s work: “She has a keen sense of the bizarre dystopian and barbaric aberrations that characterize current world events, and without becoming cynical she finds poignant symbolisations for prevalent fears, traumas, aggressions, for malice, helplessness or repression, but also for empathy and political commitment, to specific agendas or individuals” (from On the Mirror of Twilight, Katrin Plavčak, pub. Snoeck 2017).
For Haus der Lose / House of Lots the artist paints a contemporary political landscape of carnivalesque horror; a world populated by a cast of grotesquely humorous characters, including real-life politicians, ‘sci-fi’ aliens, refugees, anthropomorphic objects, maps and cartoon beasts. Plavčak, nonetheless, remains critically constructive in her own political beliefs: “The European Union is a unique concept, which started as an important peace project. Yet the European Council seems, more and more, to be the institution which is working against the integration of a unified Europe, unable to find collective answers to the problems the world is facing, like migration, climate change and environmental pollution, digitalisation and the changing working environment. There is an urgent need to come up with solutions for the whole European continent and, by extension, what Buckminster Fuller called our spaceship earth.”
Over the course of the exhibition, in response to ongoing events in the political landscape, the Gallery will be publishing an online dialogue of correspondence between Katrin Plavčak and Dr. Egle Rindzeviciute (Kingston University), with a live discussion between the two taking place on Wednesday 27 February 2019.
Wed 16 Jan 6-8.30pm: Exhibition Launch / All Welcome
Wed 27 Feb 7pm: Katrin Plavčak in conversation with Dr. Egle Rindzeviciute and Prof. Ilaria Favretto (Kingston University).
Fri 29 Mar 6.30-9pm: Live set by Chicken (Plavčak, Hoffman, Ganglberger) and DJ set by Stanley Picker Fellow Yuri Suzuki. Staged in collaboration with the Visconti Studio (Kingston University).
Also: Accompanying the exhibition, Kingston University’s Dorich House Museum is displaying Katrin Plavčak’s painting Is She a Lady? (2015) – a fictional group portrait of historical European women painters. Dorich House Museum is the former studio-home of sculptor Dora Gordine (1895-1991), and now operates as a specialist centre supporting women creative practitioners and thinkers. Special thanks to Marlene Haring & Anthony Auerbach, London, for the generous loan.
Katrin Plavčak (b.1970) is an Austrian painter and musician based in Vienna. She studied painting with Sue Williams at The Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and holds a Diploma from The Social Academy, Vienna. Plavčak has shown at many international galleries and institutions including: the Secession Vienna; Kunsthalle Wien; Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle, Berlin; Kunsthalle Basel; Galerie Mezzanin; Geneva; Marc LeBlanc Gallery, Chicago; Dispari & Dispari, Berlin & Reggio Emilia. From 2012-14 she formed part of the feminist artist group ff and, together with Caro Bittermann and Claudia Zweifel, runs the website The History of Painted Revisited; a growing archive of female painters from art history. Plavčak performs with M.O.G, a sewing machine improvistation duo with Swedish artist Ulrika Segerberg, and founded the band Chicken in 2018 with Nicholas Hoffman (vocals, bass) and Hari Ganglberger (drums), Katrin Plavčak (vocals, guitar). Chicken are currently recording their debut album in collaboration with the Visconti Studio at Kingston University.
Many thanks to: Charlotte Cullinan and Jeanine Richards; Marlene Haring and Anthony Auerbach; Michael Gatt and Pol Jesperson, Liam Guest, Louis Peckham, Ben Williams and Samuel Johnson at Visconti Studio (Kingston University); Ilaria Favretto and Egle Rindzeviciute.