Two solo exhibitions at FOTO ARSENAL WIEN in the MuseumsQuartier (MQ) cast an eye over education and health politics.
- Karolina Wojtas addresses the Polish school system
- Laia Abril tackles the consequences of abortion restrictions
- Photos dominate but expect other media, too
- Thoughtful combinations of art, documentation & commentary
- Info in English & German
- Run Dec 14, 2023 – Mar 10, 2024
- See also:
More than photos
Although FOTO ARSENAL WIEN by definition hosts special photographic exhibitions, consider the Abril and Wojtas events as more multiple media art exhibitions with strong photo elements.
Let us begin with…
(Karolina Wojtas, from the series Abzgram, 2017 © Karolina Wojtas)
The smaller Play and Punish exhibition serves as commentary on the strictures of the school and education system in post-2017 Poland.
This walkthrough experience also includes, for example, video and giant-sized toy building blocks that you can move around. The block’s surfaces are large-format photographs.
Karolina Wojtas’s photos and installations manage the trick of combining tongue-in-cheek whimsy with implicit criticism and occasional shocks.
Playful images of children contrast with the regimented requirements of the system and the implicit pressure to conform and perform. And then, for example, a display of school certificates acts as a reminder of the dozens of (school)children that take their own lives each year.
The exhibition invites you to view the school system askance and from a distance, revealing absurd elements that we likely never thought about during our own education.
(Laia Abril, From Boiling Baths to Dog Bites, On Abortion, 2016 © Laia Abril)
On Abortion, as the title suggests, tackles reproductive rights and, more specifically, the impacts of restricting access to legal abortions. The displays come out of Laia Abril’s wider international research project on the topic of misogyny.
The works focus on the real-world implications rather than moral or political debates.
Regardless of where you stand on those debates, you can’t help but be moved by the often harrowing psychological and physical consequences of restrictions or by the desperation that leads to “illegal” treatments.
By the end, you come to understand the ridiculousness (and cruelty) of laws that take no account of practical outcomes and nuance.
The photos, documents, and other items can be viewed at different levels. For example, from a sociopolitical one, as testimonies, stories and images reveal the complexity of abortion politics. Women jailed for miscarriages. Women suffering medical emergencies through pregnancy. And similar.
Or from an artistic perspective. How something as ostensibly banal as a photo of a coat hanger or hot bath takes on vastly different meanings dependent on context. How images can shock without being overtly explicit. How photos can give power and agency back to those facing the camera.
An exhibition to make you think (and weep).
Dates, tickets & tips
Both exhibitions run from December 14th, 2023 to March 10th, 2024. A single ticket available on site covers both.
For other photo-focused exhibitions in Vienna, try these listings.
How to get there
Simply follow the travel tips at the end of the MQ article, and look for appropriate signs outside the tract south of the main entrance.
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna