Eating your cake and baking it anew
CRITIC’S PICKS FOR VIENNA ART WEEK
Miriam Stoney: Indebtedness. Die Haftung der Geschenknehmenden
Bhangra music frames the exhibition space. The eye is drawn to two inconspicuous masses: concave forms that could resemble scaled-down architectural models of brick industrial halls. Upon closer looking, they turn out to be stacked publications. The “Scunthorpe Correspondences” between Miriam Stoney and Tom Glencross anchor Stoney’s installations in her exhibition project: “Indebtedness: Die Haftung der Geschenknehmenden” Questions about the relation between appropriation and resulting debts permeate into the labyrinth of non-linear processes of historiography. Consistently, they oppose the music’s distinct rhythm.
Ephemeral objects accumulate alongside black-and-white photographs. The fading glory of the steel town where Stoney and Glencross grew up, the working class’s disillusionment and an ambitious yet anonymous conformity draw a moved silence. Serving as subtle spatial reference, simple residential buildings and empty streets accompany six works of decolonial, feminist and anti-capitalist theory. Referencing a ritual of Sikhism, Stoney has laid the books down into miniature beds, though awaking them at the same time with the room-filling sound of a Punjabi Garage Mix by DJ Yung Singh. The Punjabi language textbook, however, remains protected and well-covered on its mattress. Waiting for the silence that embeds in deceptive security to thus avoid the unpleasant thoughts of personal contribution in the continuation of hierarchical, appropriating structures. The mix is looping. One of the photographs shows the roundabout within which one finds oneself again.
Stoney engages the books by placing them in relation to each other and to herself. She undertakes the complex attempt to create an ever-changing, multi-layered present. The simultaneity of self-initiated efforts and the inherent cultural expectations and obligations condense into the frosting of a fondant-covered birthday cake. The Oxford University logo, Scunthorpe United’s club crest and the Khanda emblem merge into a dynamic ring symbol. “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too” – do you preserve the cake in its intact idea of untouched wholeness, or do you eat it piece by piece, inevitably initiating the uncertain process of renewed completion? In analogy to the circular form, the exhibition narrative circulates relentlessly in search of a relational axis. Here it is a diagonally stretched clothesline connecting intertwined and interwoven self-reflections.