The name Private Collection alone conjures up all sorts of ideas of privileged and intimate access to things that, on any normal day, we might not even know exist. It’s not just the private part, but also the idea of collection; whatever group of things we encounter was brought together by someone, and being privy to that selection will undoubtedly shine a light of reflection onto the collector. In the case of this exhibition at Vienna’s Krobath Gallery by Czech artist Dominik Lang, son of artist Jiří Lang, the insight and access we’re given does reflect the creator; these reflections, however, also create the work.
If you were lucky enough to be in town for the 54th Venice Biennale last summer, you probably saw Dominik Lang’s work The Sleeping City in the Czech and Slovak Pavilion. In a different kind of private-collection style intimacy, this piece repositioned his father’s works produced in the Communist 50s within a historical and personal framework “beyond time”. Despite easy first assumptions, D. Lang’s interests are not involved with institutional critique or even the new so-called archival turn. What is important for D. Lang is what is visible, and what conditions — personal, spatial, historical, institutional — have set up what you perceive as being visible.
For an artist so preoccupied with visibility, Private Collection can be very deceptive. This is when it is key to remember that a collection reflects its collector, and that reflections themselves are a form of seeing. D. Lang presents us with photocopies and collages, alongside a few small objects, all of which are displayed in display cases and on shelves whose total surface precisely equals one of the gallery walls. What is visible here is what is usually not, the presupposed body of artistic and non-artistic references that stands behind every artwork, leaving us to visualize for ourselves how that unseen artwork appears.
Contributing Writer: Melissa Frost
Photography: Jens Ziehe
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