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Essays & Catalogue Texts

Notes on Commentary in the work of Gernot Wieland

Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg



To offer a subjective account as to what moves me so much about Gernot Wieland’s artistic practice, I found myself setting out with an elaborate butterfly net to capture him.[1] Wieland is an artist-exegete, a commentator on secular society who speaks throughout his artworks, in twists and turns, of life as an experience of marginality, or of marginalia as a form of life. His lectures, films, drawings, photographs and installations can be considered as a form of writing that wanders along and engages the border between language and image to somehow trace the sense of self as always having just left the picture.[2] It is a form of commentary in the margins of apparatuses of power that are found in family histories, social contracts, rituals or rites of passage, popular notions of politesse and self-reflection, psychoanalytic theories, philosophical concepts that figure the human as an exclusion of an inherent animality, and the hierarchies of public institutions as inherited systems of control. By narrating a life experienced from the margins as an engagement with these apparatuses, Wieland is humorously able to draw viewers into penetrating questions as to the cost of so-called humanity on our relationships with one another and the other creatures on the planet …

[1] I will use ‘Gernot’ to speak of the person and Wieland to speak of the artist’s practice.

[2] I will try to limit reading his metaphors and examples. I will comment on Wieland’s exemplary use of commentaries in terms of speaking in the first person, speaking to the second person, and speaking of the third person (which, by convention, this text itself does in regards to the artist).