Properties of a Presence, Kunstsalon at Fluc, Vienna


A trace, properties of a lost property, is what you see
At first the swish of a bird head feather
Moving in the wind as it was when worn – now on a flag flying the pirated Penacho
On the riesen roundabout of Prater – a Mexican lucha libre wrestles us over
and around the corner the trace of mud shadows the returned
The repatriates, delivered back from here to there, from Vienna to Africa, to Mexico we go

Properties of a Presence are works about the move to return looted cultural property from Europe to its former colonies. Inspired by the history of artists who have intervened with their own personal repatriations and replicas into the failure of Austria to return el Penacho to Mexico, this exhibition is part of an artistic research project ‘Repatriates’ that studies the larger protest movement for decolonial repair that has been running in public spaces of Vienna.

Claudia Peña Salinas from Mexico City/NYC sutures the old and the new Penachos together. By flying her Quetzalli as the flag of the exhibition, its curator Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll returns movement to the museum bound object. In the Restitution of Complexitythis movement of people and objects in relation is shown as documentation of a Translecture with Nikolaus Gansterer. The script for this performance was based on her book The Contested Crown: Repatriation politics between Mexico and Europe (Mit Fremden Federn: Quetzalapanecoatl, ein Restitutionsfall, Mandelbaum Verlag, Mandelbaum Verlag, 2021).

With a new edition of her PENACHO VS PENACHO Nina Hoechtl takes us to the year 2078 – 200 years after the Penacho was found by the naturist Ferdinand von Hochstetter in Tyrol – when a group of luchadorxs not only managed to secretly and safely swap the “original” Penacho with its copy but also saved the birds from extinction which provided the precious Penacho’s feathers: continga, quetzal, roseate spoonbill, squirrel cuckoo.

Marcus Neustetter from Johannesburg does a durational performance entitled Tracing Absence in earth paints. Exploring his own invisible territories, the artist looks to intangible ownership and postulated repatriations, to makes sense of his life reframed with his move from South Africa to Austria. In the process Neustetter traces and maps his search of what is absent. Marks conjure up abstract forms that have changed due to distance and displacement and the composition evokes territories and landscapes permeated by both the forgotten and the unknown.