The Death of the Audience

curated by Pierre Bal-Blanc

July 3 – August 30, 2009

Rasheed Araeen, Bernard Bazile, Robert Breer, Carlo Quartucci e Carla Tato, Eduardo Costa, Josef Dabernig, DANS.KIAS/Saskia Hölbling/Odile Duboc, Anna Halprin, Lawrence Halprin, Sanja Ivekovic, Anna Molska/Grzegorz Kowalski, Jirí Kovanda, Nicola L., David Lamelas, David Medalla, Hans Walter Müller, Gianni Pettena, Walter Pfeiffer, Emilio Prini, Goran Trbuljak, Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, Franz Erhard Walther, Franziska & Lois Weinberger and works by Bernard Aubertin, Cornelius Cardew, André du Colombier, Michel Journiac, Yves Klein, Pierre Klossowski, Július Koller, Edward Krasinski, John Latham, Piero Manzoni, Franz-Xaver Wagenschön

Terre Thaemlitz
(Concert for Cornelius Cardew) Meditation on Wage Labor and the Death of the Album
July 3, 2009, 8 p.m.


The exhibition The Death of Audience will take place in Vienna in one of the mythical sites that helped launch modernism, a site that is considered the first white cube. In this building, at the eve of the twentieth century, western art history marked a rupture with the past. This artist inspired and defiant act engendered the conditions for a renewal of art in society by breaking down the boundaries separating the different institutional disciplines. As an artistic revolution it intervened in the developing industrial revolution, redistributing the values associated with the notion of the “Gesamtkunstwerk” (the total work of art) and gave its name to this site: the Secession.

In presenting the work of artists active during a second period of rupture, the period from 1960 to 1980 – and particularly during the 1970s – The Death of the Audience interrogates another decisive moment in our recent history. Numerous points of comparison can be made between these two insurrectional periods, separated, as they are, by the development of modern art and the two world wars. It might be possible to see in the Viennese Jugendstil a form of postmodernism preceding modernism itself. It is also tempting to compare the emancipated status of the Secession artist with those contemporary artists who (despite their own position) have recently been subject to the attempt to define them as anti-, alter- or neo-modern (Altermodernism, Tate Triennial, London, 2009). A comparison might even be made between the décor of the nineteenth century industrial revolution and that of the Society of the Spectacle of the 1970s, which has continued to the present day, in attempting to define a new role for the artist (Making Worlds, the 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 or The Spectacle of the Everyday, the Lyon Biennale, 2009). In contrast, The Death of the Audience, not unlike other initiatives, such as What Keeps Mankind Alive? (The 2009 Istanbul Biennale), proposes to reveal the radical change that took place between these two periods.

The title of the exhibition testifies to this change in that it breaks with the limiting accent given to the role and mission attributed to the artist. The alternative to emancipation and alienation is certainly one of the principal stakes of these two revolutionary proto- and postmodern periods. In effect, the (heterosexual male) artist is the figure around which everything is focused in the art of the turn of the twentieth century (art for art’s sake, the various artistic manifestos, auto-reflexivity, etc.) On the other hand, it is at the level of the spectator that this question comes to be crystallized from 1968 to the present day (the disappearance of the artist, the question of gender, the notion of participation, the audience, etc). The title, Death of the Audience, with its reference to Roland Barthes’s 1968 essay The Death of the Author, acknowledges the present death of the spectator as a logical consequence. The exhibition responds in two ways to this loss: either the spectator has liberated herself in the sense that art has succeeded in creating an interactive dynamic that reestablishes the status and the name of the protagonists in question (Jacques Rancière); or the spectator has alienated herself in a process of interpassivity which ultimately absorbs her and strips her of her identity (Slavoj Zizek).
References to the following outdoor projects:
Third Text, Rasheed Araeen, London
Teatr’arteria, Carlo Quartucci e Carla Tato, Roma
Mountain Home Studio Kentfield, Anna Halprin, California
Common Space – Private Space, Fine Arts Academy, Grzegorz Kowalski, Warszawa
Edward Krasinski’s Studio, Instytut Awangardy, Warszawa
John Latham’s Flat Time House, London
The Július Koller Society, Bratislava


Press: (credits)


Texte zur Kunst

Camera Austria



e-flux journal



Global Art Forum_5
« Changing Audiences », Mathaf,
Musée d’art moderne du Quatar.
Conférence du 14/03/2011
Invité : Pierre Bal-Blanc,
directeur du Cac Brétigny.

Pierre Bal-Blanc
Pierre Bal-Blanc is director of the Centre d’Art Contemporain - CAC Brétigny – near Paris, where he has carried out major solo exhibitions with David Lamelas, Teresa Margolles, Roman Ondák, Markus Schinwald, Santiago Sierra, Franz Erhard Walther, Clemens von Wedemeyer and Artur Zmijewski, among others. In his international travelling exhibition series La Monnaie Vivante/Living Currency he negotiates current and historical analyses of body and performative strategies in the visual arts.
The CAC Brétigny would like to thank all artists and the following loaners of the exhibition for their loans:
Archivio Opera Piero Manzoni, Milano, agnès b. Paris, Galerie Cat Berro, Paris, Galerie baumet sultana, Paris, Guy Brett, London, CAC Brétigny, Horace Cardew, London, Centre Chorégraphique National de Franche-Comté à Belfort, Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier, Paris, Flat Time House, London, FRAC Centre, Orléans, FRAC des Pays de la Loire, 49 NORD 6 EST Frac Lorraine, Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris, François Guinochet, Paris, gb agency, Paris, Generali Foundation, Wien, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warszawa, Galerie Andreas Huber, Wien, Galerie Martin Janda, Wien, Július Koller Society, Bratislava, Galerie Krobath, Wien, Kunsthistorische Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie, John Paul Latham, London, Lisson Gallery, London, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Privatsammlung Wien/Courtesy Christine König Galerie, Wien, Galerie Gregor Podnar, Berlin – Lujubjana, Anka Ptaszkowska, Paris, Mario Pieroni, Ram Radioartemobile, Roma, Dépôt de Rudy Ricciotti/Collection de l’Institut d’art contemporain, Villeurbanne & Rhône-Alpes, Gerhard Sohst, Hamburg, Galerie Patrick Seguin, Paris, Gino Viliani, Milano, Franz West, Wien, Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Paris.

Special thanks to the Collection of Ancient Musical Instruments of Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien.