Eva Kernbauer


Dr. Eva Kernbauer is currently directing the research project Images of the Past in the Present. Reflection and Retrospection in Contemporary Art (APART Austrian Programme for Advanced Research and Technology, Austrian Academy of Sciences) at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.


Studies of Art History in Vienna and Berlin (MA, University of Vienna, 2001), followed by curatorial positions and a position as research coordinator at the MUMOK and the Kunsthalle Vienna. 2004–2006 Junior Fellowships at the IFK Vienna and the Centre allemande d’histoire de l’art in Paris for research on a dissertation on theories of the art public in eighteenth-century France and England (PhD, University of Trier, 2007). 2008–2011 Assistant Professor for Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Berne, Switzerland.


Exposition: Taking the Book Apart (01/01/2011) by Sarah Alford
Eva Kernbauer 21/11/2011 at 22:03

The essay is original and well researched. It is accompanied by drawings and photographs, resulting in a finely tuned combination of various sources of information and levels of reflection.


The subject is both intellectually and methodically interesting and includes material of considerable artistic potential. While Ellen Gates Starr is a well-known figure of cultural and political history, the details presented in the essay point to a serious and extensive engagement with the topic and allow an original access to her work.


However, the most interesting feature of the exposition seems to me the indirect establishment of parallels between Gates Starr’s socially engaged work and understanding of craftsmanship and the author’s own artistic practice. These parallels are not directly presented as arguments, but instead emerge in the course of the essay, as Gates Starr’s social and political work is aligned to contemporary modes of artistic practice, as an instance of what the author terms ‘activating historical politics within contemporary situations’. Thus, the exposition allows for an interesting reassessment of the understanding of historical and contemporary forms of political engagement, as well as of craftsmanship as political and artistic practice.


The submission is of considerable merit in its reflection on the practice of artistic research, as it links the practices of the historical figure of Ellen Gates Starr to the practices engaged in by the author and thus ‘activates’ its object of research.


In its present combination of research in cultural history and poetic / essayistic presentation, (the exposition) appears as a model of contemporary artistic research, pointing to an interesting and well-known historical figure, highlighting contemporary relevance and presenting related artworks. This in itself is a recommendation, but points to typical pitfalls of contemporary artistic research projects which may lead to a hardening or condensation into a specific artistic style.


However, the submission stands out among similar projects in its potential to critically reassess forms of artistic practice, as the subject of Ellen Gates Starr’s political and social practice reflects on contemporary understanding of artistic practice.

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