elisabeth penker, high hills
elisabeth penker, high hills
elisabeth penker, high hills

elisabeth penker


high hills

For winter 2003 the Kunsthalle Krems decided to make 'Women' a focal theme and to involve all the city’s institutions in the events. The Kunsthalle itself presented the exhibition Mimosen-Rosen-Herbstzeitlosen. Künstlerinnen-Positionen 1945 bis heute (Mimosas/Roses/Autumnal Crocuses. Positions of Women Artists from 1945 to the Present Day). Once the office for art in public space at the Lower Austrian Department of Culture had also been invited to participate, it commissioned a temporary exhibition in the public space of the Kunstmeile Krems. The project high hills was born. The title was intended to stand for the path that one has to follow if one wants to allow oneself to think and also even to doubt. At first, some of the artists invited to participate were rather unsettled by the focus of the exhibition, fearing that they might afterwards be branded a 'feminist' or a 'quota male'. The idea of 'women’s art' produced the most amusing grimaces on the faces of many of them. Some just looked at me with stony features. One artist remarked ironically: "Integration through isolation." Many discussions ensued. It was a matter of making clear to them that the subject was not the category 'Women’s Art'. In the end, all the artists who had been invited did actually take part. Of course, the next obstacle to be surmounted was that of obtaining permission, which in the case of high hills would not have been possible at all without the goodwill of the Krems Municipal Department of Buildings, the Department of Waterways, the Land Office, the Prison administration, several private persons and also the Kunsthalle itself. Yet that still did not ensure the general public’s acceptance of the project in public space. Here, outside of the guaranteed protection of the museum, various different interests converged, the common denominator of which was, in the final analysis, social concerns. It therefore seemed all the more important to work along the lines of the theme and to create more freedom of thought for socially relevant issues which were not only limited to local concerns and in which the general public could actively take part.
The project high hills gathered together artists who, working against the background of the individual as a human being, face human weakness with humour and subversion and are characterised by their interest in social issues. In this sense the thematic focus on the position and disposition of women in society and on gender separation was understood as an issue which arises continuously, as one among many and yet that is related to all the others as well at the same time. So the issue of the current significance of public space as an image of social structures and consequently also the question 'What is the relationship of the individual to society?' were always part of the concept.

"Is fate anatomy?", asked the voice in Elisabeth Penker’s sound installation legal crime. The title is one of the artist’s designations for socially accepted or tolerated everyday infringements of rights and discrimination in relation to gender, descent and class.
The boat moorings on the Danube seemed to be optimal for the installation. From the riverbank promenade it could only be heard in one particular area. There were no local residents. Nevertheless, the work had to be dismantled prematurely after complaints due to alleged noise pollution. Two sound channels carried a mix of verbal dialogues, noises and sound effects from the boat moorings across the water to the riverbank. "Will men be reduced to the simple function of reproduction?" "Do male social structures want to adapt?" The answer could be a homage to that which means "unprejudiced surrender to love", namely: "Complete me, maybe defeat me."