sylvia eckermann / gerald nestler
about the work
Cliffhanger consists of 8 films that accompany a hike in the Ötschergräben. The clips are part of the experimental film musical Alles hat Grenzen NUR DER MONDFISCH NICHT (to be released in 2021). Accompanying the work is the fa ade of a tourist information storefront installed at a dizzying height by Austrian artist collective Steinbrenner/Dempf & Huber presented as a symbol of the conquest of nature by rampant tourism. The Viennese multimedia artists Sylvia Eckermann and Gerald Nestler develop a cinematic course with eight stations that accompany the hikers through the tschergr ben with performative actions and musical compositions ranging from classical singing to hip hop. The film locations, at the same time waymarks for visitors, convey an unusual experience of nature and technology. Eckermann and Nestler investigate economic, technological, and ecological contexts and their consequences for the relationship between nature and civilization in the eight episodes. The unique natural sites and historical buildings become the starting point for a wide variety of scenic performances in which man and nature interact. In the often enigmatic scenes, Eckermann and Nestler subtly succeed in thematizing the complexity of this relationship and composing it into moving, sometimes mystical images. Contradictions characterize the relationship between man and nature: He is both a beneficiary and a destroyer, believing he can dominate
nature. They are exemplified in the scene where the protagonist falls down a gravel gutter and becomes both the trigger and the victim of nature‘s destruction.
Along the course, the visitor encounters unspoiled nature, but also cultural achievements such as the historic Wienerbruck hydroelectric power plant. This tense relationship is the theme of the artistic stagings. In a highly aesthetic, visual, and musical way, they enable a different perception of nature and at the same time illustrate how endangered it is. The individual clips prove to be cliffhangers in the truest sense of the word, unfolding a solid tension with a pull effect. The Cliffhanger Parcours also illustrates Sylvia Eckermann‘s and Gerald Nestler‘s interest in developing new artistic formats and collaborating with different disciplines and actors. They see this as an essential possibility of resistance against social, economic, and ecological undesirable developments.
In Sylvia Eckermann‘s works, long-standing discourses on form and media culminate in critical reflections on the present. Her installations can be described as spatial and media installations of information in binary and physical environments that structure individual and political, and economic interests. Her art seeks the challenge between discourse and aesthetic practice, between analog and digital, between solo artistic work and creative group processes. Eckermann (*1962 in Vienna) is considered a pioneer of Game Art, in which computer games have been reshaped into artistic formats since the late 1990s. Since 2012, she has also been creating sculptural works that interweave virtual and physical space. Like Gerald Nestler, she is a member of the Technopolitics Research Group. In 2014, she received the Media Art Award of the City of Vienna for her artistic work. In 2018, she was awarded the Austrian Art Prize for Media Art for her body of work. Her work has been shown at Ars Electronica in Linz, Stieglerhaus, Center for Art, Culture and Education, St. Stefan ob Stainz, Austria, Creative Hub Romantso
in Athens, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, as part of the Initiative for Cultural Exchange, Franz Josefs Kai in Vienna and Kunsthalle am Karlsplatz, Vienna, as well as this year at Platform Austria of the Architecture Biennale Venice. The public art project Cliffhanger Parcours by Sylvia Eckermann and Gerald Nestler can be seen until October 2021 as part of the art intervention of Steinbrenner/Dempf & Huber in the Ötschergräben in Lower Austria.
Gerald Nestler (* 1964 in Brixlegg/Tyrol) is an artist and author. His work combines theoretical considerations with installation, video, performance, code, text, and language. He explores the “derivative constitution” of contemporary social relations, their models, technologies, processes, and narratives. In this context, Nestler designs formats of conversation and action between art, science, and theory and develops an „aesthetics of resolution“ that makes the asymmetries of data-driven performativity transparent. Gerald Nestler is a member of the Technopolitics Research Group, Vienna. He received his Ph.D. in 2017 from the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, London, where he was a researcher at Forensic Architecture. His work is presented internationally in various formats, including exhibitions, performances, festivals, conferences, lectures, and workshops. Among others, at the Venice Biennale, the Haus der Kulturen Berlin, the Kunsthalle Wien, the Ars Electronica in Linz, the Steirischer Herbst in Graz, the New Museum in New York, the Digital Art Festival in Krakow, or the Beijing Cubic Art Center in Beijing, to name but a few. The public art project “Cliffhanger Parcours” by Sylvia Eckermann and Gerald Nestler until October 2021 can be seen as part of the art intervention by Steinbrenner/Dempf & Huber in the Ötschergräben in Lower Austria. Gerald Nestler has also received various art and research grants, such as the Austrian Prize for Visual Arts (2003), the Goldsmith Ph.D. Research Fellowship for Visual Culture, and travel grants from the Austrian Studio Program to Beijing (2008), New York/ISCP (2016), and Herzliya/Tel Aviv (2020). His texts can be found in numerous publications on art, culture, and business.
Currently, Sylvia Eckermann and Gerald Nestler’s contributions as artist bloggers to PLATTFORM AUSTRIA are on view at the Austrian Pavilion curated by Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia 2021 (May 22 – November 21, 2021).