08 May 11 June 2021
curated by Elena Agudio
We cordially invite you and your friends to the opening of the exhibition.
Soft Opening: Saturday 08 May, 4 – 8 pm
Garden conversation with the artist Robert Gabris, director of Villa Romana Angelika Stepken, curator Elena Agudio, and anthropologist Jonas Tinius
limited number of visitors to the exhibition with mask and according to the distance regulations
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 2 to 6 pm and on appointmentg
One day the artist woke up with new senses. Antennas began to grow off their head: long, thin, threaded, and filamented extensions of their perception. The artist felt anew. New eyes extended beyond the body afforded them to tune to the self by attuning to the world.
The artist walks outside of the room where they have been spending countless hours and nights. They find the garden. It is brimming with voices, abounds with smells, tickles the feet, buzzes, and echoes with the chirrups. Through a new skin, the artist breathes in, ingests sounds and smells a newly felt world. They see. And by seeing the artist becomes an insect – more-than-human. The transformation does not happen in the blink of an eye, but unfolds as a wondrous and wounding passing, an aching process of becoming.
In the magnifying glass of the elevated transparent garden pavilion, Robert Gabris restages their lived metamorphosis during a residency at Villa Romana in the autumn of 2020. Becoming animal, becoming otherwise, and embodying a life at the edge of the human, Gabris did not simply transform to embrace the not-yet-familiar. Rather, the artist confronted an enduring process of repair that was impending, no longer to be postponed. If Kafka's Gregor Samsa found himself turned into an insect in a philistine society that irreversibly destroyed his inner self, Gabris' transfiguration materialises as an artistic strategy to confront the suffocating structures of certain identity politics. It becomes a poetic licence to crisscross, ridicule, and play with the epistemological categorisation of life that permeate the modern infrastructures of the sciences of mankind – biology, psychology, zoology, and anthropology – and their storages, museums, and archives. Gabris performs an eccentric positionality at the edge of the humanly thinkable. They become with the debris of the natural and artificial ecologies surrounding and casting our being. As a killjoy, they regurgitate their refusal and embraces the odd, to trouble and confront the hubris of hegemonic narratives, and to spill over into an imaginary, (im)possible, institution of existence.
Robert Gabris, born 1986 in Hnúšťa Likier (SK), lives and works in Vienna. He completed his Bachelor's degree at the Academy of Applied Arts in Bratislava in 2010 and received his diploma at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 2015. Gabris works conceptually and experimentally through the medium of drawing. His often autobiographically inspired works critically address questions of identity and counteract the exclusion of social groups and racism with visual empowerment. His works have been presented in numerous solo exhibitions, i.a. 2020 at Sopa Gallery, Kosice, at Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, at Prague Biennale and in Survival Kitt11, 2019 in Bergen Assembly, Bergen and 2016 in the Gallery Tranzit, Bratislava.