With the series »Vienna Art Spaces«, PW-Magazine offers insights into the dynamic landscape of contemporary art spaces in Vienna.
Who or what is Suzie Shride?
An army of lovers.
You opened Suzie Shride in March 2019. Did you ever feel like the independent art scene in Vienna was already saturated?
When is a cultural landscape ever saturated? It can be dead broke, but not overcrowded. Culture moves in tubes, not in vessels. Compared to other cities, Vienna has a lot of potential in terms of trying out different formats of exhibition making and even testing what the commercial setting has to offer. After living in London and Berlin for many, many years, I would say Vienna is wild at heart, there is a lot of space for experimenting, and I really value that.
Suzie Shride hosted the launch of the 9th issue of the street newspaper Arts of the Working Class (AWC), which examines issues of poverty and wealth in relation to art. According to AWC, everyone represents the working class – a definition that seeks to eliminate classism.
It was never a question of eliminating classism, but rather of expanding the term »working class«, of building a new class consciousness. Artists need to define their rights, their needs, their lobby. Independent spaces and commercial galleries are two sides of the same coin – in the times of neoliberalism, the term »non-commercial gallery« is a contradiction in itself. As long as we live under capitalist conditions, selling artworks is part of the business. The AWC issue you mentioned was called »WHO CARES?«. Fighting from within can be one of the possibilities. Despite much criticism and fear, I see the idea of a universal basic income as a way forward in cultural production. The creative class should voice the demand for it, because it has flexible and creative problem solving methods as its weapon. When it comes to urgency within the creative scene, I would rather address institutional elitism in Vienna.
Some of the more recent exhibitions at Suzie Shride show exclusively paintings, while earlier exhibitions focused on new media and digitally created works. Do you think that painting as a medium has finally recovered from its crisis? Considering that painting is probably one of the most marketable media, can it still have a critical potential?
If you take a closer look, you see female painters such as Hannah Hansel, who graduated from the well-known, predominantly male Richter class: She is active as a DJ under the name of Flower Crime and has just released the record Kalte Fliesen. Another example is Marianne Vlaschits, who is known not only for her paintings but also for her large-scale installations.
Still, Vienna’s painterly landscape is predominantly white and male and definitely needs to change. I’m not talking about a clash between male and female, but rather about queer perspectives as a point of departure.
In general, painting will never be dead as long as people are painting. However, validation within contemporary art is dependent on context and discourse. The ability of critique lies exactly therein. Personally, I am not specialized in painting, but in sculpture, installation and performance, so there will be more in the future.
How would you describe the role of an independent art space owner?
In a nutshell, I would say enable, support, ask, vocalize, communicate, balance out and listen. Bring it on!