Birgit Jürgenssen


Meret Oppenheim and Her Artist Friends

February 11, 2017 until May 28, 2017

Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985) is a foremost twentieth-century artist, a legendary figure who achieved recognition within the male-dominated context of Surrealism, while at the same time developing her own independent research.

The aim of the Lugano exhibition is to highlight the relationship between Oppenheim and her fellow artists in the 1930s: Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Arp, to name just a few, documented by some of their most significant works. The exhibition offers the chance to understand the young artist’s interpretation of the themes of Surrealism, and how she herself influenced the movement with her personality and her charisma.

Emerging from the works by Meret Oppenheim and her fellow artist are the themes that the artistic imaginary of the time especially focused on: dream-like fantasies and erotic aberrations; the woman as an enchanted creature or a sorceress; fetishism and the relationship with nature. In the post-war years Meret’s work was enriched by her research into abstract art, strongly influencing the following generations of artists; parallels can be drawn with the work of Daniel Spoerri and Birgit Jürgenssen, among others, as well as with contemporary artists like Robert Gober and Mona Hatoum.

Lastly, it is worth stressing that the decision to hold an exhibition of this outstanding artist in Lugano is also based on the fact that Meret Oppenheim spent long periods of time at her family home in Carona, not far from Lugano, a place she held close to her heart. 

The Beguiling Siren is Thy Crest

MoMA Warsaw
March 25, 2017 until June 18, 2017

Those visiting the newly opened pavilion can view historic materials – works of art and artefacts – as well as creations of modern artists inspired by the mythological siren. This exhibition, the first ever of this scale to discuss the siren, aims to portray and activate her potential as a symbol. It combines different takes on hybridity, national identity and mythology.

The title of the exhibition is a quote from a poem by Cyprian Kamil Norwid (one of the great Polish romantic poets), who addresses Warsaw by means of a personal invocation (“capital of my youth…”) and formulates a reminder that the mythological siren was originally a dangerous hybrid of a human and animal (specifically a bird with a woman’s head), that lured sailors to their doom. The poet calls upon the origins of Warsaw’s coat of arms to explain his multifaceted relationship with the city. This quote proved deeply inspiring to the exhibition’s creators.

Depictions of the siren have changed so often over the centuries, that the one thing they all have in common seems to be her dualistic, hybrid nature: she is both human and animal. Appearing on Warsaw’s medieval coat of arms is – surprisingly – a half-man, half-dragon figure. The image of the fish-woman became prevalent as late as the beginning of the 18th century. The exhibition focuses on this diversity of forms.

The Mermaid of Warsaw is a symbol that doesn’t bind forcefully, but organises the community while allowing it to remain diverse.

The exhibition features the works of the following artists:
Korakrit Arunanondchai, Evelyne Axell, Alex Baczyński-Jenkins, Zdzisław Beksiński, Louise Bourgeois, Eugène Brands, Agnieszka Brzeżańska, Bernard Buffet, Claude Cahun, Liz Craft, Edith Dekyndt, Christian Dietrich, Leo Dohmen, Drexcyia i Abdul Qadim Haqq, Elmgreen & Dragset, Leonor Fini, Ellen Gallagher, Malarz Goltyr, Justyna Górowska, Zdzisław Jasiński, Dorota Jurczak, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Birgit Jürgenssen, Tobias Kaspar, Marek Kijewski, Aldona Kopkiewicz i Mateusz Kula, Łukasz Korolkiewicz, Gina Litherland, Jacek Malczewski, Witek Orski, Sylvia Palacios Whitman, Pablo Picasso, Krzysztof Pijarski, Aleka Polis, Agnieszka Polska, Karol Radziszewski, Joanna Rajkowska, Carol Rama, Erna Rosenstein, Tejal Shah, Franciszek Siedlecki, Tomasz Sikorski, Penny Slinger, Juliana Snapper, Franz von Stuck, project „Warsaw’s Sirens” (Jacek Łagowski, Danuta Matloch, Katarzyna Opara), Alina Szapocznikow, Stanisław Szukalski, Jerzy Bohdan Szumczyk, Wacław Szymanowski, Dorothea Tanning, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tunga, Anne Uddenberg, Aleksandra Waliszewska, Wojciech Wilczyk, Hannah Wilke, Ming Wong, Marcelo Zammenhoff, Anna Zaradny, Artur Żmijewski.


FEMINIST AVANTGARDE in the 1970s from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND Collection

May 6, 2017 until September 3, 2017

mumok is presenting more than 300 artworks from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND collection that show how women artists in the 1970s first began to collectively redefine their own “image of woman.” As this significant artistic movement has been neglected in art histories to date, the collection director, Gabriele Schor, coined the term ”feminist avant-garde” and introduced it into art-historical discourse—with the aim of highlighting these artists’ pioneering work. Schor thus extended the avantgarde canon hitherto dominated by men.

In the 1970s women artists emancipated themselves from the roles of muse and model, rejecting their status as objects in order to assert themselves as subjects actively participating in social and political processes. One-dimensional role ascriptions as mothers, homemakers, or wives were radically challenged—often using irony. Key themes were female sexuality, women’s own bodies, clichés and stereotypical images of women, the dictate of beauty, and violence against women. The women artists of this generation were united in their committed rejection of traditional normative notions, even if they did not all know each other.

At a time when civil rights and women’s movements were gaining ground, women’s issues were increasingly the subject of public debate. One important slogan was “the private is political,” gaining women and their quasi-private concerns greater influence and resonance in public life. They set up feminist networks, organized exhibitions, wrote manifestoes, and founded numerous journals and magazines. In their art, they made strategic use of historically “untainted” media such as photography, video, and film. Performances and actions were also preferred means of expression—as a contrast to the male-dominated genre of painting.

The exhibition shows works by 47 European, North American and South American women artists, including Eleanor Antin, Helena Almeida, Lynda Benglis, Renate Bertlmann, Lynda Christanell, Lili Dujourie, VALIE EXPORT, Sanja Ivekovic, Birgit Jürgensson, Ketty La Rocca, Karin Mack, Ana Mendieta, Rita Myers, Orlan, Gina Pane, Ewa Partum, Margot Pilz, Ulrike Rosenbach, Martha Rosler, Carolee Schneemann, Cindy Sherman, Hannah Wilke und Martha Wilson.

Curated by Gabriele Schor (director, SAMMLUNG VERBUND) and Eva Badura-Triska (mumok curator)

ich weiß nicht. Growing Relations between Things

June 21, 2017 until October 1, 2017

In a world increasingly shaped by digital technologies and interfaces, interaction between humans and things has become a focal point of interest. Against the backdrop of new digital and social settings, the group exhibition ich weiß nicht [I don’t know]—Growing Relations between Things analyzes the relationship between subject and object. In the framework of the VIENNA BIENNALE 2017: Robots. Work. Our Future, seventeen positions of contemporary artists, most of whom live and work in Austria, spin a narrative on the affect of things.

Objects—whether analog or digital—serve as tools (“media”) to configure our everyday world and thereby also shape our society. Through the Internet of Things, smart devices, wearables, and apps, it appears as though the objects we have designed are gaining ever more control over us humans. In this complex, networked world, how is it possible to maintain or reclaim our autonomous, sovereign lives?

The exhibition title alludes specifically to Birgit Jürgenssen’s work ich weiß nicht (2001), a photographic depiction of the artist’s car snowed under in a parking spot. Rendered undriveable, the vehicle serves as a medium for breaking taboos—the main focus of interest is relief that the machine no longer functions: I don’t know as an alternative form of autonomy and mental “mobility.”

As we come to terms with our inventions, creations, “self-expansions,” and “proxies,” new fields of interaction emerge. Not only in the museum context do human-made objects function as components of ever newer networks in a world beyond the reach of their creators. Awareness that through our actions—not least through our work—we place ourselves in reciprocal relationships with human-designed objects is the motivation for examining this phenomenon in the MAK DESIGN LAB. Last but not least, the exhibition reflects on the curatorial process itself, in which the capacity for relationships between things to multiply is a constant source of wonder.


Padhi Frieberger, Bruno Gironcoli, Sofia Goscinski, Nilbar Güreş, Lisa Holzer, Birgit Jürgenssen, Anita Leisz, Paul Leitner, Ute Müller, Julian Palacz, Signe Rose, Günther Selichar, Misha Stroj, Zin Taylor, Sofie Thorsen, Patrick Topitschnig, Kay Walkowiak

Curators: Janina Falkner, Contemporary Art Collection; and Marlies Wirth, Curator, Digital Culture and Design Collection, MAK