VIENNA.- Mind Expanders shows the connections between the social upheavals and the art forms of the 1960s and 1970s that were border transgressing and architecturally-influenced or performative in nature. The title is derived from Haus-Rucker-Cos seat object for two people which conjoins technology and body and stands as an example of the attempt to achieve an artistically radical redefinition of the social environment and interpersonal relationships. On the basis of exceptional works taken from the museums holdingstogether with numerous international loansthe extensive show will throw light on the inception and development of new, interdisciplinary, socially-critical visions and utopian forms of art. The broad spectrum of exhibits runs from pictures, objects and models through photographs, videos and films to publications and other historical documentary material.
The rejection of the socio-political conservatism of the 1960s with its traditional gender and class-specific role models is reflected in farreaching artistic changes: unconventional, non-linear thinkers undertake the dismantling and mixing of the previously strictly separated genres of art and architecture. The interest in devising social utopias and the associated tendencies towards the performative and participative prove to be one of the decisive areas that architecture and art have in common. Architecture here is propagated as an art form which is in directly touch with life and a domain where experiments are to be undertaken with new materials and forms. These are directed against a (literally) petrified tradition that has been long cemented into place. In Austria significant impulses for this development originated with individuals such as Walter Pichler and Hans Hollein while the Galerie nächst St. Stephan in Vienna developed into an important meeting place for the avant-garde. At the Technical College, Prof. Karl Schwanzer and his assistant at the time, Günther Feuerstein, permitted fundamentally new questions that were critical of tradition to be asked.
This led to the formation of numerous experimental groups who wanted to live up to the demands of the space age as well as proposing alternative ways of living.
That this is was not a specifically local phenomenon but rather an international one can be seen in the comparison of Austrian, Anglo-American and Italian architectural groups and individuals (Archigram, Ant Farm, Superstudio, COOP HIMELB(L)AU, Missing Link, Haus-Rucker-Co, Zünd-Up, Hans Hollein).
In concept art space and architecture, as socially relevant subjects, also gain in importance. In the exhibition Gordon Matta-Clark, Dennis Oppenheim and Christo are the best known representatives of this development. In different ways their concerns with architectural questions extended the definition of art.
In the sphere of performative arts the human body, seen as a mirror of the relationships of power in society, increasingly shifted into the centre of the performance itself. The works of the Wiener Gruppe and Viennese Actionism can be seen in the exhibition along with the international positions in Body Art which was concerned with gender roles and feminism (Carolee Schneemann, Gina Pane, Marina Abramovic). In addition Mind Expanders shows just how much performative means of expression influenced and changed painting and sculpture (Maria Lassnig, Arnulf Rainer, Bruno Gironcoli). Mind Expanders shows border transgressions and altered states of consciousness as a common concern in an ea of artistic change and social re-orientation.