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Ingeborg Strobl – Publications as artworks

mumok insider

Ingeborg Strobl – Publications as artworks

For Ingeborg Strobl, catalogues, folders, posters, and invitation cards formed a central part of her oeuvre. She did not regard such printed matter as just media that accompanied her art but paid at least as much attention to it as all her other work—and combined them. As a graphic design graduate of the University of Applied Arts in Vienna she dealt with typography, layouts, and the materiality of papers and other image carriers in an extremely professional manner, but at the same time she was a relentless critic of all those whose superficial relationship to these things she immediately saw through. Publications and ephemera were, in essence, for her an extended pictorial, linguistic and exhibition space, which also enabled a flexibility rather than rigid parameters of space. Her painting-photo-collages as well as the “printed matter” feature similarly surreal-hyperreal motif combinations, and the various types of media in her work are infused in particular with a special mix of astute critical intellect and fathomless wit.

Among the publications is a series of slim, simply bound booklets, slightly larger than A4 size, which are quite literally sensational. Produced for the exhibitions, but occasionally independently of them, they contain series of images with text—composed like a collage or also juxtaposed with photography—which hold a warts-and-all mirror up to the world of advertising as well as usual social repressions. Strobl thus confronts, for example, the human disposition to belittle all things bestial with the harsh reality of the inhumane exploitation of animals in the food and cosmetic industries. That the world is not simple but profoundly contradictory and often dishonest are a few of the truths that can be experienced and visually grasped here. A book such as this is also devoted to blonde jokes and other sexist attitudes of masculinity. Strobl makes it clear with a sophisticated irony that jokes can and should also be made fun of in order to reveal the less funny incitement behind them, without directly succumbing to the deadly serious. It is no wonder then that at the end of her booklet she quotes the former president of Austria Thomas Klestil, who once said the following about her: “Frau Strobl loves the polarization between nature, creature, and art. That is a sign of the times.” This typical wording from a politician’s foreword now itself becomes an element of a bibliophilic artwork that—amid images of cuddly animals—contains even more noticeable “jokes,” such as this: “Question: What do you call a man standing up to his waist in water? Answer: In over his head.”

“Booklets”—that is, artworks—like these along with other publications by the artist are available at a special price in the mumok shop for the duration of her exhibition.

Rainer Fuchs