In the 1960s, the body became the starting point for a radical rethinking of architecture, design, fashion and art. The boundaries between those disciplines increasingly disappeared.
Exploring and breaking social norms around sexuality and identity is central to much of the work from this period. This research often uses new technological developments in the field of both material and media (such as glasses and helmets).
However, the architects of this period, being mostly male, often get stuck in their own sexual fantasies. Not until VALIE EXPORT, now celebrated as one of the most important feminist artists, does this change. Some of her earliest projects can be seen as a direct criticism of the work of her male colleagues.
In what is also known as ‘the Inflatable Era’, inflatable architecture was manufactured as a prerequisite for a new, nomadic way of life. Space travel served as the inspiration for these capsules. However, are these high-tech hide-outs post-human or not?
“A little world in which the big one holds its tryouts”, is how guest curator and professor Bart Lootsma describes the development of Austrian avant-garde movements in the 20th century. In this lecture series, Lootsma places the so-called ‘Radical Austria’ of the 1960s in the context of the long Austrian tradition of art and design.
Visiting the exhibition, you will receive the accompanying catalog. It documents both the technical information of all exhibited works, as well as substantive texts to contextualize important makers and themes. You can find the digital version here.
Posthuman; once your eyes are opened to it you see it everywhere. But what is it? In this recurring series, curator Fredric Baas explains. In the first column, Baas focuses on the changing human body, something Austrian designers were already investigating in the 1960s.
The need for radical change manifested itself in post-war Austria in a series of megalomanic urban designs. These projects share an obsession with technology and infrastructure and a drive to create completely new ways of living together.
The designers and artists in the Austrian avant-garde were obsessed with theories of social change. Despite their manifestos often being very radical, they realised an impressive number of their projects.
With his manifesto Alles ist Architektur Hans Hollein does away with the traditional definition of architecture: “Our efforts are focused on the environment as a whole and on all media that determine it. Both television, the artificial climate, transport, clothing, the telephone and the home.”
The performances of the Actionists increasingly sparked scandals attracting attention of both police and media. This culminated in 1968 in the happening Kunst und Revolution, arranged by the artist Peter Weibel as part of student protests and taking place in a prominent lecture hall of Vienna University.
Schöner Wohnen, or ‘the destruction of the habitable coffin’ is a film made by the architecture collective Salz der Erde in 1971, in which the ideal of the tasteful-bourgeois housing magazine of the same name is mercilessly undermined.
In the 1960s and 1970s, new media such as radio, telephone and TV changed the relationship between people and the environment. The impact on the human experience of the environment makes perception an important theme for many artists and designers during this period.
That cybernetics would radically influence the functioning of design, architecture and urban planning was understood in Austria at an early stage. Its consequences are speculated on in numerous projects.
Walter Pichler’s prototypes of furniture and appliances are perfectly executed and functional. By emphasizing certain effects of the use of everyday objects, these prototypes show their cold and disorientating impact.
The oil crisis and environmental issues have led to an international reconsideration of the technological fascinations of the avant-gardes of the 1960s. Haus-Rucker-Co, in particular, reflects in very large installations on the consequences of environmental pollution.