Juliane Rebentisch: The Hundred-Headed Artwork

Henrik Olesen has changed the exhibition spaces in the basement of the Secession. Although the change is not drastic, it is still enough for the grave atmosphere of these historic white cubes to noticeably intermingle with another: namely that of newly built apartments, where the slightly oppressive stench of a petit bourgeois background is already heralded by the smell of fresh paint. The symmetry of the cross-shaped room is abolished by means of a wall added on the left, such that, together with the corridor constructed behind it, a suite of rooms is created. At the end of it, a door stands slightly ajar; on the door handle—the style of new buildings—hangs a pair of trousers on a simple wire clothes hanger. The right protrusion of the room is meanwhile freely accessible. However, this part of the room—being bereaved as it is of its spatial counterpart—looks as though it were the unmotivated corner of an architecturally obstructed apartment, for which no one had any plans: left undone or left over, just like the newspaper with traces of white paint which seems to have been forgotten there after the construction. Or also like the skirting boards, only partially painted, supported by tightly folded newspapers, which in some parts of the corridor and the gallery indicate the project of the levelling out of the historic stone floor in the style of newly-built apartments. The gallery itself has also been shortened. To the rear, a narrow room has been divided off it into which another door leads, again in the style of new buildings. Behind this door, just as in the case of the other one, there are empty rooms. Both seem like the institution’s backstage area. One windingly leads to an exit, a fire extinguisher, and a study, the other suggests its possible use as a storeroom—both are evidently unofficial rooms in which nothing is supposed to be exposed to an audience. To enter them as a visitor thus seems almost illegitimate. This is due not least to the fact that these rooms seem to be at least partially withdrawn from the socially controlled exhibition situation: here, viewing potentially hides from being seen, it has the tendency to turn into voyeurism.
Yet, as opposed to a truly voyeuristic arrangement, there is actually nothing to be seen in these rooms, only the empty and peculiarly undefined rooms themselves. Since it remains open in a very distinct manner, what does and what does not still belong to the installation behind the back of the walls in the entrance area (each of which is declared an artwork— (both Ohne Titel, 2004), the visitor is thrown back onto herself–not only with respect to the activity of her perceptive production of meaning, that is, but also in relation to her movements in space which are also a potential device for constituting sense. Precisely because of its being open for the audience with regard to meaning, this situation covers any imaginable symbolic or functional alignment of the room, with a zone of reflection, which may affect everything: the basic physicality of our perception as well as the spatial, institutional, and cultural contexts of art. A virtual space is somehow penetrating the forbidding emptiness of these rooms, a second order space (let us call it the aesthetic space), which is determined by the game of meaning that reflectively is set in motion in it. This game cannot be brought to an end for the contexts that potentially enrich these spaces with sense are always laid out experimentally by the audience, yet can never be fixed onto these rooms objectively. The contexts are neither an objective part of these rooms nor can the rooms be viewed independent of their visible and invisible contexts, “as such” (as a mere sense datum).
In a discussion of Kant’s Critique of Judgement, Jacques Derrida has shown that the question regarding the limits of an aesthetic object can be considered one of the central questions of traditional aesthetics.1. According to Derrida, however, and I agree with this, it is precisely the impossibility to answer this question which must be regarded as a crucial structural feature of the aesthetic, as such. The question as to what actually constitutes the artwork as opposed to whatever is merely externally ascribed to it or projected onto it remains constitutively open in any aesthetic experience. Yet a process of reflective understanding is thereby instantiated, and it is not until then that the work is released as a work of art: is made to work. Only within and by this process, in which any kind of immediate understanding, any direct access to the work is denied for the sake of a reflective movement, does an aesthetic object constitute itself as aesthetic. The “parergonal” logic, as Derrida puts it, in the pattern of which an empty space, for instance, may force itself into the center of aesthetic significance at one moment, only to withdraw from it in the next as a supplementary work, as the rear of the “actual work”—this specifically aesthetic dynamization of the limit or the frame therefore runs through all of art, including the art of installation, where it happens in an almost literal way. Can it be coincidence, that the etymology of “installation” also leads back to the middle high German “Gestell,” the framework?

It is not only with regard to the discrete co-exhibition of institutional back rooms that Olesen proves himself a master of the par-ergon, the supplementary work and its logic. His installations are replete with staged trivialities which have the inherent tendency to suddenly appear as some kind of punctum of the whole arrangement—as something which seemingly incidentally and from the margins—determines the entire installation. However, the various parerga—the newspaper, the pair of trousers, the skirting boards, the empty rooms behind the untitled walls—only display their full force once they are put into relation to that which, at least for the time being, presents itself as the actual center of the installation, namely to those works which are exhibited in an almost classical manner in the subtly reduced exhibition rooms. On the new wall of the formerly cross-shaped room there are eight wood-framed graphics; on the left side of the gallery we find ten graphics framed in glass. What is more, corresponding to these are four table-top vitrines in the gallery, each of which exhibits graphic and other materials in a different way. This will have to be discussed later. The most obvious subject of this arrangement is in any case homosexuality: In the vitrines, together with specific drafts from Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, references to the German paragraph 175, as well as material for the scientific survey of this sexual “abnormity” are displayed. Also the graphics in the show cases as well as those on the walls all more or less explicitly have a homoerotic subject. Sometimes photos of gay S/M scenes are mounted in them, sometimes the title alludes to gay topics, like for instance repression by the state (Kriminalisierung des öffentlichen Raums; Kriminalisierung des privaten Raums); cruising (Der Spaziergang,I,II,III,IV), or outing (Die Verwandlung I-X).
The semantic horizon stretched out here certainly also extends—and this is the point I want to make now—to the empty spaces which lie behind the exhibition space; and the dialectics of protection and ban by which they are characterized with regard to form, now potentially receive the specific semantic supercharge of the closet, that forbidden hidden room of deviant sexuality. In the same way, the atmospheric combination of a newly built private apartment and the public exhibition space in the cross-shaped room and the gallery now demonstrates a tendency to relate to the political question of the border between private and public space, namely, the question as to who and what may legitimately show or expose herself or itself in public space. Also the other parerga, the newspaper and the trousers can be included—each in a different way—in this connection: A paragraph symbol on a picture of the newspaper on the floor might communicate with the historical § 175; the second-hand physicality of the trousers now suggests stories of sex and violence. The latently uncanny effect of especially this object—the trousers—is not only due to the very present absence of the body that once must have worn them but also to the circumstance, that within the process of aesthetic experience, their object character is being melded with a sign character without a chance of being entirely subsumed in the latter. Being neither simply an object nor simply a sign, and yet both at the same time, they aesthetically fall into the parergonal movement, too, in which their materiality can, at moments, condense the whole horizon of meaning indicated in the exhibition, only to have it slide off itself at the very next moment in a peculiarly detached manner. It is precisely because of this that they remain—like all the other objects in the exhibition structurally alien: un-heimlich (uncanny, literally, un-homely).
Still, the central status of the initially quite classic seeming section of the exhibition is not only denied by the uncanny (in the sense mentioned above) power of the installative parerga, but rather, on closer inspection of the material exhibited in the show cases and on the walls, this apparently classic part itself dissolves in a collection of supplementary works. This applies first of all to the relationship that the material in the vitrines apparently maintains with the graphics on the wall. For it is usually historic background material that is displayed in vitrines; preliminary studies or accompanying material of the actual subject of the work -supplementary work, that is. Yet here, too, the relation of parergon and ergon, supplementary work and work, becomes more complicated. For the attraction of such material vitrines emerges in most instances from the belief that the fetishistic desire for traces of authentic production can be met by means of the documents presented in the vitrines, rather than by the end product. In our case this applies even more so. Whilst the materials in the vitrines literally display original handwriting, traces of intellectual and technical work being done, those traces withdraw behind the smooth surfaces in the instance of the graphics on the wall. Of course, these again do not so much refer to a studio in the old sense but do rather indicate the possibilities of mechanical reproduction (and indeed, as can be gathered from the likewise exhibited list of the works, some of the graphics are actually computer prints). The relations are turned around; what at first sight appeared to be the main work eventually proves to be the mechanically produced supplementary work of artistic undertakings. Again, these are only accessible for us through by-products. The arrangement of the latter not only counts on the fetishistic view of the visitor—therein resembling other vitrine arrangements in the line of Broodthaers to Krebber—and turns it back reflectively by refraining from clarifying the status of the shown material; it moreover partially diverts this reflection on the semantic level as well.
In the last vitrine there lies a tie, neatly folded between piles of material. On this tie, at the latest, the culinary authenticity-fetishism of the art connoisseur is met by sexual fetishism. The elaborate game with the old notion of a work, tied to the original, does not yet stop here. The materials have been taken from the context of Olesen’s book Anthologie de l’amour sublime; an adaptation of Max Ernst’s collage books La femme 100 tetes (The Hundred Headed Woman) and Une semaine de bonté (A Week of Kindness), the image worlds of which again derive from late nineteenth century illustrations. Neither Ernst’s book, nor that by Olesen (which, to give things a further twist, has emerged amongst other things from two exhibitions, one in the Sprengel Museum Hannover (2003), the other one in the Galerie Klosterfelde in Berlin (2003)) can adopt the function of the actual work, especially since they are reproducible books, which themselves fall back on reproduced material. In the exhibition they are only cited anyway, dissolved again in single pages of different status. All that remains for us is their arrangement. If Walter Benjamin is correct in writing that mechanical reproducibility has lead to an achievement of independence of the so-called exhibition value of art, i.e., its possibilities of exhibition at the expense of cult value tied to the original and its constitutively unique presentation,2 then we are dealing with an art form here, which reacts to this condition by defining itself essentially as an exhibition. The installative work thus defines itself explicitly as a work without an actual center, more specifically, it is a work that takes countermeasures to any objectivist attempt to declare it as such. This happens for the sake of a parergonal logic (it is the specific logic of the aesthetic), simply through the dynamics by which any work can be set free as a work of art. The so-called “de-limitation of art,” for which the art of installation stands especially representative, thus does not negate the specificity of the aesthetic but only the objectivist misunderstanding of it, as expressed for instance in the idea of a self-sufficiency, independent of viewer as well as context, of the secluded, organic work of art, or again in the identification of work and original which has likewise become questionable.

Why then the recourse to Max Ernst? An initial content-based interpretation of Olesen’ s Ernst variations already imposes itself with respect to the well-known theory according to which Surrealism has helped dreams and the unconscious to a pictorial language independent of the conscious self. Nevertheless, Olesen’s re-collages deal with this established connection between Surrealism and psychoanalysis from a critical distance. Being interventions in a given material, they are clearly set against any pretension of immediacy. Naturally, this gesture alone already affects the source material. In 1956, in Looking back at Surrealism, Theodor W. Adorno stated in the text of the same name, that the thesis of the involuntary expressions of the unconscious fails to meet the surrealistic objects: “One does not dream like this,” Adorno writes, “no-one dreams like this.”3 Thus, what appears in the light of Olesen’s appropriation of Ernst’s surrealistic collages is something else, namely their temporal nucleus. What becomes visible in them is not symbolically the trans-historic existence in itself of the unconscious, but the historic specificity of the time when they were created, that is, the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s.
This first applies to their recourse to the image worlds “with which the parents of Max Ernst’s generation were dealing”,4 to the “childhood pictures of modernity”: Illustrations from the late nineteenth century. “What Surrealism is adding to the likenesses of the object-world”, Adorno says, “is what we lost of our childhood: as children we should have been struck by illustrations which themselves were outmoded even then just as we are struck today by surrealistic images. The subjective factor lies in the act of the montage: it is attempting—maybe in vain but unmistakable with regard to the intention—to create perceptions the way they must have been then. The size of the giant egg, out of which at any moment the monster of doomsday may hatch, is so enormous because we were so small once we shuddered at the egg for the first time. Yet, to create this effect, the outmoded helps.”5
Adorno indeed points out the very motif of the uncovering of childhood experiences that André Breton had placed in the center of his Anweisung für den Leser [Instruction for the Reader] of Max Ernst’s La femme 100 tetes. “La femme 100 tetes,” it says, “is going to be the picture book par excellence of our time, where obviously any salon ‘has sunk to the bottom of a lake’; with [...] all its fish-lasciviousness, its star gilding, its grass dances, its bottom of mud, and its glitter garments. Such is, on the eve of the year 1930, our idea of progress, to once be able to see-–filled with happiness and impassion—with the eyes of children...”.6
In the case of Olesen’s adaptation of La femme 100 tetes and Une semaine de bonté however, it is impossible to open children’s eyes. Today, 2004, this material bears no relation to the childhood of the present nor can it be attributed any revolutionary energies of the kind that Benjamin saw gathering in the “mood” of things recently outmoded which was discovered by Surrealism: “the first iron constructions, the first factory buildings, the earliest photos, the objects that have begun to be extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of five years ago, fashionable restaurants when the vogue has begun to ebb from them.”7
What remains today of the surrealistic discovery is the index of its historicity. Yet, from this perspective the programmatic proximity of surrealism and psychoanalysis once more becomes interesting, since their constellation becomes visible as being historical as well. Olesen’s treatment of Ernst consequently confronts this complex from the outside. Titles such as Aus dem kapitalistisch-familialistischen Interieur, Glückliches Jahrhundert des Kapitalismus/Glückliches Jahrhundert des Familialismus, Angriff der Papa-Mama-Ich-Maschine or simply Papa-Mama-Ich do not refer primarily to psychoanalysis, but rather to its radical critique by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Following Michel Foucault, in Anti-Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari argue that the psychoanalytic narrowing-down of insanity and family “was based on a development enclosing the bourgeois society as a whole transmitting functions to the family by virtue of which responsibility and culpability of its members could be determined.” To the degree that psychoanalysis integrated insanity in a “parental complex” and recognized the confession of guilt in the figures of self-punishment resulting from Oedipus, it made itself, according to Deleuze and Guattari, part of a “general bourgeois mechanism of repression” instead of being the agent of liberation.8 Not only the titles in Olesen’s work indicate a perspective critical in this sense to psychoanalysis, it is also obvious in the collages themselves.
The scenes which in Ernst’s version are quite somber due to their strangeness, yielding the psychological in general, in Olesen’s case become—partly in an entirely funny manner—either illustrations of the “capitalist-familist dispositive” they emerged from (for instance, a kraken entering the bourgeois interior through the window turns into the symbol of capitalism) or they are confronted qua montage with their repressed yet latently present other. Ernst’s salon images are populated here with gay S/M scenes from pertinent web pages and in the (outing) series Die Verwandlung, a Tom of Finland figure appears at the end—a comic icon from the heroic phase of the gay movement. Still, the drastic violence by means of which Olesen injects such contents into the doubly historical material of Max Ernst, as well as the ironic distance remaining between the montaged materials, do not so much refer to a freed zone beyond capitalism and familialism, but rather, indicate the effectiveness of their connection up until the present day.
This is particularly the case with regard to the order of the sexes corresponding to this context and its exclusionary logic of identity. It is also in this context, that the drafts from Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, as well as the documents concerning the scientific categorization of the abnormal shown together with the collages in the vitrines, have to be seen. Consequently, Olesen’s work is not simply anti-psychological, but rather, maintains a certain affinity to Judith Butler’s attempt (with, and against, psychoanalysis) to think of the normalizing implication of that which she calls “law of compulsive heterosexuality.” Its reign does not only find its correspondence in the social expulsion of homosexuals, but also in the psychic mechanism (as characterized in The Psychic Life of Power) of denial and repression of homosexual relations. She describes it in reference to Freud as a mechanism of melancholic identification. To become a “real man” therefore means to identify oneself with that which is forbidden as an object of love and thus has always already been lost. The positions of heterosexual masculinity and femininity thus always bear traces of an original homosexuality, which by means of the melancholic identification is preserved as well as aggressively denied.9 This denial, however, is a double denial; in the case of the heterosexual man it is not only directed against other men provided they approach the subject as potential objects of desire but also aimed at the threat of being identified with the female position: The heterosexual man becomes the very man he must not desire and he desires the woman he must not be.
It is certainly not surprising that the Recherchen im Reich der Sinne—the famous and infamous conversations of the surrealists about sexuality—are a distinct document of this double rejection. Women somehow become the positive “other” of the hetero-masculine artist subject and its production, whereas homosexuals become the negative “other”. While the exclusion in the first case is carried out by means of idealization, it is executed by aggressive rejection in the latter. Already in the first conversation, protest is made against Raymond Queneau’s tolerant attitude towards gay sex. “From a physical point of view I am as disgusted by homosexuality as I am by excrements, and from a moral point of view I condemn it.” Pierre Unik states and André Breton adds: “I accuse the homosexuals of imposing a spiritual and moral deficit upon human tolerance which tends to upset the system and to paralyze any effort I respect.”10 Now, the interesting point is not primarily the sexuality of concrete persons but rather the circumstance that in Surrealism, the heterosexual logic of desire is attributed a programmatic role in production. However, its presence is not direct or obvious but once again sublimated. The point is, as Benjamin noted with respect to Breton’s Nadja, being tied to the object by means of courtly Minne and not by means of love. “The lady, in esoteric love, matters least.”11 She is nothing but the medium of the “profane illumination” Surrealism is aiming at. As such, she embodies a truth that is concealed from her; yet decoded by the surrealist poet-artist and objectivized in his art, it can be made accessible for the experience of others. “Woman’s nudity,” Max Ernst accordingly remarked “is wiser than the philosopher’s teachings.”12
The confrontation of surrealistic collages with homosexual motifs thus does not only touch on the de facto machismo of a historic group of artists but also affects an implication of modern (truth) aesthetics, namely that of a universalistic conception of the art work and the experience of this conception. It is in this case revealed as a particularism based on violent exclusion. This is not simply opposed, once again, by a new, democratically extended universalism. Instead, Olesen’s installation, committed to identity politics, separates its audience offensively along the lines of gender identity and sexual orientation. Depending on where they are situated in this net of identity coordinates, the visitors will experience the single elements (and their arrangement) differently. Already with regard to its content, the installation thus stands in uttermost opposition to aesthetic universalism. This also applies with regard to the individualizing structure of its experience. For what clearly corresponds to Olesen’s installation is, as we have seen before, an experience within which the visitors reflect back on themselves and on the activity of their very own production of meaning. Precisely this structure of experience, however, can be understood in the tradition of the very philosopher who a woman’s nudity was preferred to by Max Ernst13, Kant, as a genuinely aesthetic form of object reference and self reference.
Seen from this perspective, Olesen’s installation-–by means of its various strategies to thematise the “implicit viewer”14 through itself—stresses precisely those essential features of aesthetic experience, which were marginalized by the universalistic conception of art and art experience in aesthetic modernity (and this not only in Surrealism): its projective-performative aspect as well as its self-reflexive aspect. Still, it needs to be specified insofar as there is a difference to Kant, who reduced the object to mere cause and the aesthetic experience to the self-reflection of an abstract subjectivity and its abilities.
In our case, self-reflection is explicitly carried out in the mode of object reference namely in the parergonal logic, the dynamics of which enclose viewer and work equally. In such an experience, now, the empiric subjectivity of the individual visitors is not transcended by means of some profane illumination, but reflected in a very specific way.
Precisely this can be experienced very distinctly through Olesen’s installations in the Secession. It is not the case that the viewer receives simple political messages from them, as an aesthetically dull misunderstanding of contemporary art would have it. Rather, the viewers are confronted with their own social and cultural background assumptions. As long as the elements from Olesen’s installations seem to meet us with meanings which we have neither intentionally read into them, nor are simply to be found in them objectively, the (parergonal) process of meaning production and meaning subversion set free with the work will lead to something like “bearing society in mind by the subject”—to an experience where our own social and cultural background assumptions will meet us in a peculiarly strange way in the mode of aesthetic semblance. This also applies to the installation in the Graphic Cabinet, which takes up some of the motifs of the pieces shown in the basement in order to make them decisively site-specific here.

In the entrance area to the Graphic Cabinet, there is a wall vitrine integrated in the Secession’s architecture. Again, Olesen is using this existing equipment for a display of material
This time the subjects are not the surrealistic collages of Max Ernst, but drafts from two of the Secession’s publications. These are dedicated to the self-representation of the Secession and the reappraisal of its own history, namely Secession- Permanenz einer Idee (1997) and Secession- Die Architektur (2003). In the midst of the historical and contemporary exterior and interior views, which have been documented photographically in these books, scenes of punishment, criminalization, and gay sado-masochism have been montaged. And instead of a tie one finds a belt—folded and held together by a rubber band—in between the prints. Through these formal analogies, the semantic soundboard of the basement rooms reverberates here and overlaps potentially with a reflection upon the institutional space of the exhibition itself, the Secession-not only regarding the correspondence between the illustrations from the late nineteenth century and the founding period of the Secession, but also with respect to the historic incision which is set by the reference to Max Ernst: The unspecifical as well as historically loaden title of the installation shown in the basement is 1935 1922. In the history of the Secession, the 1920s signify among other things a phase of restorative-nostalgic recollection of its own beginnings roots in the Habsburg monarchy, by which the modern project of the Secession was put aside for the sake of the creation of a specifically Austrian cultural identity which eventually—during the presidency of the Nazi-architect Alexander Popp—was led towards its “German destiny”—meaning it was substituted by a racial identity.15 It is hardly necessary to point out the relation of Nazi race politics and the persecution of homosexuals. Displayed in the show case, pages with internet addresses dealing with the 207 STGB (the Austrian counterpart to the German § 175, which was repealed as late as 2002), as well as a page which traces back the precursory formulations to the Constitution Criminalis Theresiana dating from 1767, refer to the continuity of this bio-political complex until the present.
Now the juxtaposition of this complex with the history of the Secession is not only about reference to the bio-political implications of its dark side. Rather, it is not possible to sufficiently grasp the critical potential of Olesen’s intervention, without also considering it as a certain negation of the aesthetic concept which certainly was partly responsible for the problematic fallacy of identifying art and culture: the Gesamtkunstwerk. For the formal integration of the exhibited art in the secluded unity of architecture in correspondence with this idea, at the same time served the intention of integrating art into life.
Paradoxically it was precisely the social “function of art as something ‘sacred’ to society and thus radically withdrawn from it”16 expressed by the stylization of the building to a cult building, which would guarantee its cultural effectiveness. Opposed to that, Olesen’s political contents offensively work on a profanization of art and make it receptive to its concrete social and historical contexts. Moreover, Olesen’s installative procedures are directed against the impression of a harmonious unity. The supplementary—parergonal—logic of these procedures breaks up any tendency of closure, also and especially, at the place where the staging of the unity of the Gesamtkunstwerk of the Secession itself is thematized: in the Graphic Cabinet.
Characteristically, Olesen does not show graphics therein. Instead, he made a plaster cast of one of the room’s corners which is now lying on the floor. The traces of the casting procedure are still clearly visible. On the wall, holes recall the boards which had apparently been put up for the casting. On the plaster cast itself are traces of the Vaseline that served to extract the cast from the wooden shell. Also, on the parquet which is usually polished and clean, and on the wall as well, there are pieces and splashes of plaster all around the cast: a recently abandoned building site, it seems, of suggestive casualness which is reflected in the laconic installation of the second object exhibited in the Graphic Cabinet: Corresponding to the plaster cast—being left there rather than lying there—in the corner, is a board in front of the wide window frontage, clamped slightly diagonally between the parquet floor and the ceiling. A torn-off piece of paper is attached to its rough surface on which it says in handwriting Papa-Mama-Ich. Here, at the latest a process is once more set free through which the sculptural objects in the Graphic Cabinet potentially combine with the energy of Olesen’s other parerga in an infinite loop of a non-concludable reflection, the dynamics of which also seize the Graphic Cabinet- and set it free as an aesthetic space.
Yet, this is a space definitely balking at any formal or content-related closure. For the very reason that it withdraws from any kind of identity logic, it cannot simply be transferred into the space of practice of identity politics or culture politics. Its autonomy, the autonomy of the aesthetic, consists in the reflexive interruption of any direct ignition between art and life.
It is in this interruption that the distance of the aesthetic to any practical or theoretical purposes—as Kant’s theorem of the lack of interest of aesthetic experience has it—is actually manifested. However, the lack of interest is a feature only of the structure and not of the content. Since content cannot be withdrawn from experience, it is by no means irrelevant, which kind of content is set in the reflexive movement of the aesthetic procedures of understanding.
Even more: this movement is intense only if the motivated contents are relevant for the viewer. Yet, since the contents at the same time can never be simply found objectively in the work or be read off it, the confrontation with committed art like Olesen’s always implies the cultural and social background assumptions of the experiencing subjects themselves. If, however, the notion of the artwork is thus internally tied to the procedural nature of aesthetic experience, which is always infiltrated by the social, then art finds the social relation crucial for its notion not so much in the fact of art’s immanence in the society but rather in the fact of society’s immanence in the work. Accordingly, it is especially the socially committed works that today often insist—within and by means of the opening to their concrete social contexts—on the very own logic of the aesthetic, which cannot simply be subsumed under the—frequently fatal—notion of culture. As if he had also wanted to create an image for that, Olesen’s board installation crosses through the view to the streets of Vienna, which is so harmonically integrated in the Gesamtkunstwerk architecture of the Secession.

1. Jacques Derrida, Parergon, in: The Truth in Painting, trans. Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod, London: University of Chicago Press 1987, pp. 15–148.
2. Walter Benjamin, The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, in: Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn, London: Fontana Press 1973, pp. 211–244.
3.Theodor W. Adorno, Looking Back on Surrealism, in: The Idea of the Modern in Literature and the Arts, ed. Irving Howe, New York: Horizon Press 1968: 220–224.
4. ibid.
5. ibid.
6. André Breton, Anweisung für den Leser, in: Max Ernst, La femme 100 ttes/ Une semaine de bonté, Frankfurt am Main: Zweitausendeins 1975.
7. Walter Benjamin, Surrealism. The last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia [1927], in: Selected Writings Volume 2:1927-1934, ed. M.W Jennings, H. Eiland, and G. Smith, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, Harvard UP 1999.
8. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari Anti-Oedipus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Preface by Michel Foucault. Translated by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. University of Minnesota Press 1983.
9. Judith Butler, The Psychic Life of Power. Theories in Subjection, Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press 1997, pp.132–150.
10. Recherchen im Reich der Sinne. Die zwölf Gespräche der Surrealisten über Sexualität 1928–1931, edited by José Pierre, München: Beck 1993, p 10.
11. Walter Benjamin
12. Max Ernst, Die Nacktheit der Frau ist weiser als die Lehre des Philosophen, Köln: Verlag Galerie Der Spiegel 1970.
13. In a faked interview with Ernst it says: Q: What do you think of Kant? A: Woman’s nudity is wiser than the philosopher’s teachings.
14. See: Wolfgang Iser, Der implizite Leser. Kommunikationsformen des Romans von Bunyan bis Beckett, München: UTB 1972.
15. See: James Shedel, Kunst und Identität. Die Wiener Secession 1897-1938, in: Secession – Permanenz einer Idee, hrsg. von Vereinigung bildender Künstler Wiener Secession, Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje 1997, p 13-47.
16. See: Gottfried Fliedl, „Die Secession als heilige Mitte“, in: Secession – Permanenz einer Idee, hrsg. von Vereinigung bildender Künstler Wiener Secession, Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje 1997, p 13-47. p 59-81: 60.