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Alexandra Baumgartner teaches us that nothing is what it seems to be initially: behind (petty) bourgeois façades volcanoes bubble. Wooden railing posts are lined up – in Evidence – like rifles of a firing squad; the empty bird cage – Intervall – evokes the prison our world turns out to be. The dancer Rudolf Nurejew, emblem of the free mobility of man, is – Hypnosis – spellbound, captivated by the test image he stares at. Seeing, looking, views play a major role in Alexandra’s works. Other collages open up second and third realities behind burn holes, or we see – an empty nothing.

The artist exposes realities hiding behind beautiful appearances. Thus a pretty garden fountain turns into a nightmare, cute puttos’ faces become distorted grimaces, the cheerful scene is a fight for life and death. The harmless image of an anthill metamorphasizes into an apocalyptic scenery of a world dominated by insects, allegory of a society where a faceless crowd determines the rules.

Many fine as well as merciless threads run through the works. They measure, brace and sew up the collages’ heads and faces – reminiscences of Frankenstein’s monsters. A works such as Intervall demonstrates how skilfully Alexandra spins the threads. An empty cage holder is connected tightfully with the wall by strips, the associated photograph of a child continues the thread: his little head is incorporated in a kind of record paper – the child as an experimental arrangement. However, the sheet is a tool for tailoring, in a private environment traditionally associated with women. In fact, it is mainly women who dominate Baumgartner’s world.

Entreact illustrates the power of the feminie most clearly. A hysterical woman, a patient of the neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot in the late 19th century, makes chairs dance. Her magic gesture of incantation is an expression of her psychopathic energy. The clinical picture of hysteria was almost exclusively diagnosed in women, and Charcot took a pleasure in letting them perfom in public. This woman is a victim of male phantasies as well as a carrier of an extrasensory power. The fragility of it all is demonstrated by the chairs that are just tilted against each other and may fall on the slightest push.

It is not difficult to see in the work by this artist, born in Salzburg and living – next to Berlin – in Vienna, reminiscencies of pychoanalysis. It is the Sigmund Freund gene that is active in the Austrian woman. And as the events locked in one’s psyche often date from far back, so her images and objects belong to long-gone times.

Precursors of this work can be found in Surrealism (just think of the scene in Un Chien Andalou, where a knife in a man’s hand cuts through a woman’s eye) and, with its psycho-sexual connotation, in the scandalous writings of the Marquis de Sade. It is not a beautiful world that is being presented to us by Alexandra Baumgartner; it is the beholder’s task to decide how realistic it is.

Statement of the artist:
“The subjects of my works are psychic and moral abysses, the physical decay of man, transience, network of relationships, limit states, loss of control and anxiety. I am analyzing the fragile context between deeply private feelings and social constraints. Nature who defines us and the human being trying to control it but ultimately has to succumb. Everyone fights this struggle inside oneself. The beast within us, the animal one tries to control yet that will always win, if you like it or not.”

BIOGRAPHY

1973 born in Salzburg
1994-1998 University Mozarteum Salzburg
1998-2000 Photography College, Grafische Lehranstalt Wien
2000-2004 Universiy of Applied Arts Vienna

Lives and works in Berlin and Vienna

EXHIBITIONS (S=Solo)

2015 Arcadia Unbound, Funkaus Nalepastraße, Berlin
The Collage Principle, Forum Frohner, Krems
Queertopia: It Takes a Village, 68projects, Berlin
Audience, Corner Window Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (S)
Saloon, Sexauer Gallery, Berlin
Gegen den Tag, Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin
Instant Edition, Museum Leopold, Wien
Intervall, Städtisches Museum Engen + Galerie, Engen (S)
2014 f/12.2, Stipendiatenausstellung, DZ Bank Kunstsammlung, Frankfurt am Main
Viel Arbeit, wenig Rot, Salon Hansa, Berlin
Samples (überstürztes Hängen), Kreuzberg Pavillon, Berlin
Painting Was a Lady Goes America, Wonderloch Kellerland, New York
Money Works 2, Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin
Sessel, Stuhl, Hocker in der Kunst, Galerie im Traklhaus, Salzburg
Der schwarze Hund, Gesellschaft der Freunde junger Kunst, Baden-Baden
Talent, Galerie 401contemporary, Berlin
Psycho Killer, Galerie Börgmann, Mönchengladbach
The Hot 100 Auction, Paddle8, New York
2013 Let us snow, Kreuzberg Pavillon, Berlin
Hypermart, Galerie Trapp, Salzburg
Pop Hits & Alptraum, Artspace Rhein Main, Offenbach
Artists in Love, Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin
Entreakt, Berlin-Weekly, Berlin (O)
Open Art/Summerstage, Wien
Entreakt, Berlin-Weekly, Berlin (S)
Open Art/Summerstage, Wien
2012 Death Can Dance (curated by Lori Hersberger), Townhouse, Zürich
Alptraum – The Nightmare never Ends, Metro Manila, Green Papaya Art Projects, Quezon City, Philippinen
Auction for Adisco, Sotheby´s Mailand
Alptraum, Goethe Institute Johannesburg, South Africa
2011 Le choix de Paris, Cité internationale des arts, Paris
I am a work in progress, Periscope, Salzburg
Alptraum, Blank Projects, Cape town; The Company Gallery, Los Angeles;
 Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin; Cell Project Space, London
Tape Modern No.19, Tape Club, Berlin

AWARDS, RESIDENCIES

2014 Top 5 Shortlisted Artists, DZ Bank Kunstsammlung, Frankfurt am Main
2008-09,2011 Cité internationale des arts, Paris
2004 Emanuel und Sophie Fohn Foundation, Munich
2003 Anni und Heinrich Sussmann Foundation, Vienna
1998 International Summer Academy Salzburg, Leon Golub/Nancy Spero

Works