Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2017
This book is at once a provocative collection of drawings with captions and text in English (where Aldo Giannotti’s wry, playful humour owes a small debt, perhaps, to David Shrigley) and an abrasive encounter with the Albertina, once a Habsburg palace and now one of Vienna’s premiere art galleries.
There have been many top-notch exhibitions at the Albertina in recent years, some of which I have been privileged to see. Among the most memorable I would number an exhibition of Lee Miller’s photographs, one of Anselm Kiefer woodcuts and, in 2014, an exhibition devoted to Blow-Up, Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic film of swinging London… and the list could certainly go on. For me, as a visitor, the Albertina has provided cultural stimulation aplenty, an occasion for rich reflection, a surfeit of high-level aesthetic experience, and much pleasure. But for other actors involved with the art gallery, say curators or artists or the uniformed staff who do the really important and necessary work, such as stopping tourists taking selfies by the painting of Toulous-Lautrec’s magnificent horse – well, they likely view the Albertina in a different way.
And that, in essence, is what Giannotti’s book is about, beyond the dollops of wry humour the imaginative machinations evident in the drawings. It is a study of how people perceive and make use of the same social space (here the Albertina in particular) in different ways. We live in overlapping worlds, we map interfaces. Reality is consensual only up to a point, then it has to be negotiated.
The most interesting drawings are those where Giannotti attempts to make us see the propensity to action (our various dispositions) in the building itself. Elsewhere he looks at what the Albertina once was and what it might be. He strips back the facade and exposes the working underneath. And he does all this with a sweet, questioning, provocative charm.
Aldo Giannotti’s website is here.
The publisher’s description of Spatial Dispositions can be read here.