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March 31 2009 3 31 /03 /March /2009 12:09

Georg Ritter is one of the two artists creating together huge size drawings who was showcased in the Patrick Ebensperger Gallery, based in Graz,  in the Salon du Dessin Contemporain, Paris. Just arriving at the fair, he took his time to explain us the process of his work, and how it started, twenty years ago. Trough many collaborations, he did also performances, installations, all in the name of art, in relation with the machine.

Interview with Georg Ritter.

So why don’t you start by explaining us this amazing black and white drawing in front of us ?
This is Stutzpunkte, it shows the reconstruction of Stadtwerkstatt in Linz, it’s pastel and paper, 180 x 330 cm.

Which is …
This is a cultural art center which we organized. I do it together with Peter Hauenschild

How long does it take you do create it ? How did you get this idea of working together ? How does it function ?
The main idea is that each one goes on the other one, by superposing layer. It is three to ten layers, so each one we change. The more sophisticated works could take us about two months for instance, two months. « Monitor »
Do you usually you deal with architecture ?
 The topics are different, mainly between architecture and nature. This piece we made last year, 110 m high in the mountains, this is the place where Hebrew were hiding for surviving during the World War 2 in Austria.

So you actually went to this place, took a picture, and then drew it ?
Yes, this is how we work, from photographs.

What is your aim behind those drawing ?
This is documentary work in the one hand, and in the other hand it is representing works which are under construction, we always want to show the changing of things, and nature also is always evolving, that’s why it is interesting.

In the mean time it is very dark, very special enlighten, for instance, it is artificial light ?
Yes, when we work on closed places,like this is where we use to do tv performance and tv show, so we enlighten the scenery of the workshop,and it renders like immaterial work

For how long did you work together, how did you met Peter Hauenschild ?
We met in this organization, there we started to collaborate together, in Sadtwerkstatt.

Do you also make work alone?

It must be sometime difficult? Passing so many hours together, creating together, it must create a very strange relation ship?
Truth, but you must understand that when you draw you don’t talk. You are communicating trough the pencil and the pastel.

Do you have any influence, artists that inspired you ?
I like for example Graf, presented also in the gallery. I like a lot of works, but i need when it is some kind of meditation, when it takes a lot of time.

Could you tell us about details that you had ?
Some spots we leave open, and while we work some things, passing through our mind, introduce by itself. Very often we have a timer, a clock, that shows usually 6 o clock.

Why a clock ?
Because it is linked  to a group of artist connected in Europe, so we gave them a dedication.

So it is twenty years that you are working on drawings, how do you consider the evolution of contemporary drawing today?
I think it is very open minded, you can experience very different areas, I appreciate the fact that today, everyone can express himself.

Do you have any future projects?
We have a lot of projects, hidden in the boxes, waiting for us… We are dedicating us to drawing, but before we made a lot of different projects, I can show you trough this book, Stadtwerkstatt, in arbeit 1979-1995,  if you want.

Yes with pleasure, so that you could tell us a bit more about Stadtwerkstatt.
It started in 1980, in Linz, it’s an old building that we organized as an art centre.

Did you also live there ?

Yes, sometimes. But this building was supposed to be destroyed, so all our combat was to fight against it. And all we did inside was art related.

There was no political aim ?
No, but there was left organizations. It was very open minded, a bit anarchist free place. We were doing performances, recorded. We organized also concerts. And we also had a room like a parliament, were we were taking decision for the art projects and concerts. And we did also that sgraffito in the wall, outside of the building, covering all of it. This sgraffito was using very different techniques, like avant garde content. On this photograph, you can see a caterpillar destroying the building, and the art on it. But we got it rebuilt. We went to the mayor of Linz, asking him to rebuild it. So we were using art for politic.This is for me on of the main question in of art : Can art stop the machine? And here is the answer, they finally did as planed. And then we did also many public performances, and installations. Like “the whether building”, in 1988, it is a building out of whether. Meaning that it exists out of the whether. There was fire, snow machines, steam, and the people could walk into this installation and get an impression of heavy whether. It was related to the destruction of Stadtwerstatt.Here are photographs of an exhibition Peter and me did: on very large glasses, like window glasses, we engraved all the plans of the quarter of Stadtwerkstatt. A light in the inside of the glasses made it visible. We also displayed all the discussions we had about the quarter. Here is a photograph representing a drawing we made on a building. It is the portrait of an artist who was competing for election in 1992. And the building was where we had all the meetings for the campaign.

Did he win ?
There was a very famous scientist who also enters in the campaign, so the artist step back. It was a important election because an ex SS from WW2 was also competing. It was a big issue :  after the WW2 Austria was considered as a victim of war, so all the nazi, after the war, didn’t have trial and continued to work inside the society. For us it was necessary to do this. This other photograph shows a concert for the celebration of 500 years of the city of Linz. We did a concert in a very big place with construction, machines. We used those machines to make noise for the symphony. In our tradition, breaking glass brings luck we through a tone of glass down the ground.

It was indeed a lot of luck for Linz...
We also did the opening for the festival of electronic art in Linz. Inside the city hall, we made fireworks, pyrotechnics, so that from the outside it would look like the building is on fire.

And what are those big digital numbers on the other building?
The festival was called intelligent ambience, and it was supposed to be able to count the people in the place. So there were about 10323 people; if it functioned. And there was a fence featuring steam.

So you actually did a lot of works differents from drawings...
Yes, performances, videos, sculptures, concerts, installations. We were very interested in the question of the power of machine. We also did TV live show. For instance, we were on TV during three days on 3 sat, two hours show. For the festival of electronic art in Linz in 1991 : “Nobody is safe from himself”. One the strongest moment was : we were displaying a dog on TV, and people had to vote if they wanted or not the dog to die. 

And ?
People decided death. So we blew it. But it was a trick. After we blew it many people called so we had to show that he didn’t actually died.

How crazy, they actually voted to make the dog die ? It’s kind of mad and sad...
I guess it was a provocation. An other example of provocation is when we blew up a tree. It was called “the execution of a tree”.

What did you want to show ?
Well, anyway many people blow up tree. So we showed it, but in a very direct way.

The title “execution” is usually used for men, so it makes the action even more direct, or violent if I can say..
Yes, so this was this performance. There is a lot of other stories, twenty years of Stadtwerkstatt…But want to insist that this art was only in the name of art, not politic.

Okay, thank you very much for sharing this with us

We follow a two part interview of the Edlin Gallery, New York, who presented works of Art Brut, and among it, acquarelles of Henry Darger.

[Visuals: above : Peter Hauenschild and Georg Riiter : Stutzpunkte, 1992, pastel/paper, 180 x 330 cm. Below : Peter Hauenschild and Georg Riiter, On-TV, 1989, pastel/paper, 180 x 330 cm. Courtesy gallery Ebensperger]]

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