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Luis Camnitzer, Narcissus, 2011


From Mythological Demigod to Mass Phenomenon

1. December 2012 – 10. February 2013

with Barbara Bloom, Felix Burger, Luis Camnitzer, Niklas Goldbach, Conny Habbel, Katja Hammerle, Ely Kim, Jürgen Klauke, Frantiček Klossner, Urs Lüthi, Bjørn Melhus, John Miller, Olaf Nicolai, Helmut Schober, Johanna Smiatek, Anan Tzuckerman, Wainer Vaccari and historical works by Gyula Benczúr, Monogrammist A.F., Felix Nussbaum, Johann Heinrich Schönfeld and selected Ovid illustrations

The international group exhibition The Mirror of Narcissus: From Mythological Demigod to Mass Phenomenon takes as its starting point the ancient myth of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection. His longing and the unattainability of his beloved caused him to pine away wretchedly. Sigmund Freud used the figure of Narcissus as the basis for his theory of narcissism, laying the foundations for a wider debate on a theme that appears more socially relevant than ever today.

The central themes that make the psychoanalytical concept of narcissism so important in Western society are the role of the individual and the search for the ego and the self. These themes are expressed in a number of ways in contemporary art. In the past, Narcissus was traditionally associated with feminine-connoted behavioural patterns, which carried an associated taboo in visual representation. Only when gender roles began to be questioned did self-experience from the male perspective become the theme. Mirror-gazing and self-portrayal as well as the treatment of feelings – the spectrum between denial and megalomania – are recurring motifs in this context.

This exhibition, which takes the mythological figure of Narcissus as a starting point and makes use of a variety of media including painting, sculpture, installation, performance, photography and video, is not concerned merely with self-experience and self-recognition, with clichés and male behavioural models, but also with the social changes that have taken place over the past years, thereby illuminating current social circumstances.

The exhibition comprises 17 international positions covering a span of time from the 1970s to the present day which reverse the polarity of old themes and use modern-day perspectives to create novel and multi-faceted interpretations, posing questions and adopting a critical attitude. In addition to the works of contemporary artists the exhibition incorporates historical pictorial material, which represents Narcissus according to different, traditional conventions. Representative paintings, illustrations from editions of the classical author Ovid’s Metamorphoses from between the 16th and the 19th century form part of the introduction to the theme.

Curators: Maren Welsch, Kiel; Beate Ermacora, Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck


Friday, November 30, 2012, 7 pm


DDr. Herwig van Staa, President of the Regional Parliament of the Tyrol
Dr. Beate Ermacora, Director Galerie im Taxispalais
Dr. Maren Welsch, Curator, Kiel


Der Spiegel des Narziss, Vom mythologischen Halbgott zum Massenphänomen
Hg. Beate Ermacora, Maren Welsch
Mit Texten (dt. / engl.) von Julia Brennacher, Lotte Dinse, Beate Ermacora, Christian Hartard, Silvia Höller, Markus Neuwirth, Susanne Petersen, Dieter Ronte, Jürgen Tabor, Peter Weiermair, Maren Welsch, Sylvia Zwettler-Otte
183 Seiten, zahlreiche Farbabbildungen
Snoeck Verlag,
Köln 2012
€ 29,-

Thanks to

Pro Helvetia


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