chiara minchio, high hills
chiara minchio, high hills

chiara minchio


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.

Chiara Minchio’s/b> contribution was a two-part photographic work which was sent out in the form of cards and distributed separately in several public places. She had already finished the work in the year 2000 and showed it to me in her studio in another context and at a time when the work of putting the exhibition together had actually already been completed. It immediately seemed to be clear that without the lightness of this piece of photography showing ladies’ high heels the exhibition would be missing something. With a smile, it presents a view of the sometimes touchingly silly efforts of human beings to declare the world of their own thoughts a generally valid universe. Not even Herr Freud, who was of the opinion that women wear high heels as a result of penis envy, would have been able to avoid smiling at this view of things. As in her painted pictures, the artist’s figures in the photographic works are victim and perpetrator in one, asexual mythical creatures which shed their burden in the deformations which are at times monstrous and absurd. And so a comic monster attempts to take its place on a high heel. With its naked behind, it is enthroned on it like an icon, filling up the picture. Then its head is balanced on this high heel, opening up the space for a story about someone who is in a room which, in its turn, is within a still larger room.