Andrea van der Straeten
Werkschau XXVIII – burning down the house

OCT 24 – NOV 25, 2023
Fotogalerie Wien

Fotos: Michael Michlmayr (Fotogalerie Wien), Andrea van der Straeten

Fotogalerie Wien | eSeL

Catalogue (pdf)

The Photograph is One Word in a Sentence A French author characterised an installative five-part photo series by Andrea van der Straeten in the Antagonismes exhibition in Paris in 1996 as a sentence constructed of individual words. (Claire Peillod, Notices. In: Antagonismes – 30 ans de photographie autrichienne, Paris 1996)
Each element has form and meaning but together they constitute something new. From the beginnings of her work as an artist Andrea van der Straeten has been building “sentences” of this kind from photographs, objects, words, videos and interviews encouraging their interaction. They expand and develop dense webs depending on the size and duration of the project …

Burning down the houseInnocent Bystanders – Unschuldige Dritte 1 + 2 … is one of these early multi-part works which Andrea van der Straeten created in 1991 specifically for the Vienna Secession. Two thematic complexes stood at the centre: economy and fertility. Vegetables and genetic structures flanked seven large photographs of the priestesses who guarded the secrets of fertility at the ancient Shrine of Vesta in Rome. If you combine the individual parts you will find yourself confronted with a discourse that was prevalent in the 1990s, about our “bodies in society”, i.e. identity, gender issues, gene manipulation and the interests of capital. …

The fabric from which Territory, 2021 is “woven”… served for years as a bedsheet and had been repaired innumerable times; the places that had been worn through were patched with thicker fabric. Territory appears to be a plea for a careful use of resources. Above all, a unique beauty unfolds from the former bedsheet as soon as it is seen backlit and photographed: the fine structure of the fabrics becomes visible, as is the geometry of the patches where the heavier patches frame the thinner. De facto this reproduced sheet at a 1:1 scale lies in front of us like a topographic map on which the borders of the occupiers’ domains, their territories, are inscribed…

The photo series, Like Adventures, comes closest to what, as a general rule, we would normally associate with photographs. They show special places that no longer exist ... they are relicts of measures that real estate policies impose as when, the tiny Mars Bar in 1st East Street, New York ..was replaced by Jupiter 21, a multi-storey building … In 2013 Andrea van der Straeten placed the casino-like workings of the capital and real estate markets under what seemed to be a polemical title, Like Adventures. In the meantime the consequences of this seemingly justifiable exploitation has pushed our entire planet to the limits.

Ruth Horak, Curator

The exhibition shows a selection of photographic and media works from 1986 to 2023