The Visiting Critics residency in Vienna was a unique, intense and generous program of visits to artists’ studios, exhibition venues as well as meetings with thinkers and philosophers based in the city of Vienna. Organized on a high professional level, Verein K provided well-planned, balanced and outstanding introduction to Vienna vibrant contemporary art field. The program embraced institutions of different scale and artists on different stages of their professional careers (from emerging to established). Connecting art critics from different contexts and countries, it stimulated the critical dialogue and activated the collective experience of observation and exploration of contemporary art agendas and criticism in Vienna and internationally. The private interests of every participant were considered and visits connected to specific areas of interest were arranged. Following long-week program, we had an amazing opportunity to discuss issues most relevant to Vienna and Austria: the economies and geographies of cultural production, political implications, the role of curatorial and critical work in the field of art.
I greatly appreciate the work of Jelena Kaludjerović, Dejan Kaludjerović and Klaus-Peter Speidel, their generosity, professionalism and hospitality.
– Aleksei Borisionok, Belarus
The Visiting Critics residency was an intense but fascinating introduction to Vienna’s contemporary art scene. Our meetings with curators, scholars, critics and artists ensured that we heard a wealth of perspectives on what it means to work as an artist in Austria today. As a scholar and writer myself, it was especially interesting to speak with others engaged with economies of knowledge production; I found myself asking, what critical debates are emergent in the city? Which voices are dominant, and who is struggling to be heard? And where does this sit in relation to discourse on art and politics elsewhere? Overall, our group learned how public funding for the arts has fostered a vibrant community that is not afraid to think self-reflexively, and which includes a range of critical voices. While the legacies of history and tradition weigh strongly in the city, Verein K’s program showed us that there are many creatives pushing forward in search of something new.
– Daniel Udy, UK/Canada
My time in Vienna with Verein K was incredibly fruitful and engaging. I loved having the opportunity to dive into the Vienna art scene and meet people at all levels of the community. I felt like I’d really stepped into the middle of the art world, a perfect situation for learning and research. The programme was excellently coordinated, and offered a real breadth of art journeys, and enough flexibility to follow our noses. As well as learning about Vienna and its art world, the week allowed me a rare chance to consider art criticism in itself, and to discuss with other crtics about their practice. So often we are separated by publication, genre or the type of art that we write about, and I found it illuminating to be able to openly discuss work and criticism in a dedicated space.
– Josie Thaddeus-Johns, UK
I consider myself well travelled, having visited more than thirty countries, but my first visit to Austria reminded me that my experience of the world is still partial, even blinkered. At least, this is my sense now, after having visiting Vienna as a participant in Visiting Critics VIENNA 2018. This residency programme was more than just an unexpected privilege for me; it was a real treat, I would even venture to say an education too. The intensive, weeklong programme surveys all aspects of Vienna’s highly resourced, critically minded and remarkably welcoming art scene. The itinerary was thoughtfully curated and included visits to artists’ studios, meetings with key critics and thinkers, guided walkthroughs of large museum shows, and stopovers at Vienna’s numerous commercial galleries and project spaces. Although intense, the programme left me with a clear sense of the core issues and debates that currently energise Austria’s foremost art city – without forsaking due care for, and attention to the small, the local, the Viennese everyday. It was treat, for example, to bookend my official visit with a meeting at young artist Michèle Pagel’s studio-home in Penzing; her quirky output, varied ambitions and worldly artist network clarified an earlier, confused encounter at the Secession. A key virtue of the Visiting Critics VIENNA 2018 programme is that it is not just an inward-looking project: the opportunity to see and experience Vienna alongside other visiting critics – from Berlin, Toronto and Minsk – provided for rich contextual dialogues, which unfolded over time, in the studios and gallery halls we visited, but also in Café Engländer and other landmarks of the Viennese scene. My sense of Vienna’s art scene since returning home to Cape Town lingers on two, inter-dependent themes: hospitality and critical dialogue. I recognise that this is a first-time visitor’s sense of things, no doubt in need of refinement, but one I will seek to refine on future visits. I would like to thank Jelena Kaludjerovic, Dejan Kaludjerovic and Klaus-Peter Speidel of Verein K for their generosity and attentiveness during my participation in Visiting Critics VIENNA 2018.
– Sean O’Toole, South Africa
Verein K is an independent arts and cultural organization from Vienna, founded in January 2018. Verein K focuses on projects in the field of contemporary art and culture connecting diverse cultural and social interests: critical approaches to contemporary art, creating curatorial platforms as well as enabling innovative cultural practices including diverse social groups.