Setting Memory – Bettina von Zwehl & Paul Coldwell

Photo: Oliver Ottenschläger

Special exhibition at the Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna

7/10/2016 – 21/1/2017
Opening: 6 October 2016, 7pm

Works by London-based artists Bettina von Zwehl and Paul Coldwell kick off the discourse about “loss, memory and reorientation” at the Sigmund Freud Museum on 7 October, 2016 – notions that today define the atmosphere of the former living and working rooms of Sigmund and Anna Freud. The exhibition SETTING MEMORY at Vienna’s Berggasse corresponds with personal shows by the artists at the Freud Museum in London and thus underlines the close relationship of these two Freud institutions.

Bettina von Zwehl uses the quality of photography as a tool of memory and instrument of research, following the main principles of psychoanalytic treatment methods: criteria such as “observation”, “transference” and the “principle of confidentiality” are subjected to artistic scrutiny in a series of portraits.

Photographs from a series documenting Anna Freud’s personal belongings in London afford insights into past life-worlds – visual reminiscences returned to their place of origin that depict the setting of the early history of pedagogy and child analysis in “Red Vienna” of the 1920s. The multi-part installation Sospiri (Sighs) stages experiences of loss and mourning: inspired by Gerhard Richter’s work, the artist combines personal traces of life and memory in an unembellished photographic memory record.

Paul Coldwell picks up from those historical events that left the house at Berggasse 19 a “vestigial memory space”. By reconstructing antiques that once populated Freud’s desk, Coldwell revives the memory of the ambience of Sigmund Freud’s workplace. Exhibits rendered in white and reduced in size provide a visual counterpart to the grand narrative of loss and absence. Like the suitcase used by the Freuds while fleeing into exile in London in 1938, the containers in which the reproductions were shipped to Vienna also testify to a sense of departure and new beginnings.

As Sigmund Freud linked the methods of psychoanalysis to those employed by archaeologists, who today often make use of X-rays, the artist uses this method to scan a Freud fetish (Freud’s coat) and uncover the underlying content of meaning.

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Image: Paul Coldwell, Temporarily accessioned – X-Ray, London 2016 © Paul Coldwell

Part of the exhibition SETTING MEMORY is the artistic documentation of Paul Coldwell’s Balloon Releases action that took place in cooperation with students from the “Business Academy Donaustadt” in Vienna in June this year and that was devoted to visualising loss of home and migration.

Newly released artist books by Bettina von Zwehl and Paul Coldwell afford specific insights into the latest series of both artists.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue.

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