Postcard From

Martyn Reynolds, Vienna, Austria
Martyn Reynolds Untitled, Appendix Project 2015 at Georgi Stranski City Hospital, Pleven, Bulgaria. Photo: Martyn Reynolds

Martyn Reynolds Untitled, Appendix Project 2015 at Georgi Stranski City Hospital, Pleven, Bulgaria. Photo: Martyn Reynolds

I live in Vienna; what’s it good for? The general humour of the place starts with Schmäh (pronounced schmee), a happily nihilistic response to problems. For a long time, people here have been thinking about meaninglessness and the indifference of reality. An American professor who taught linguistics at the University wrote a paper on the topic. One nice thought related to Marie Antoinette, who the French think of as naïve and decadent—‘let them eat cake’. However, she was raised in Vienna and by most accounts was much more politically aware than her peers in Paris. When the pitchforks came the statement was not a naïve one, but a knowing resignation to the guillotine; perhaps the first historically recorded incidence of Schmäh.

Michael Haneke’s film Funny Games is another good example. Haneke used to live up the street from me and I saw him once, dressed in black, running through the street, clutching a folded umbrella, silver hair flowing.

Not long ago I was invited to give a lecture in Hito Steyerl’s class at the Art Academy in Berlin. I spoke about aggregation, how it’s the process that forms planets including our earth, and Julian Dashper’s stack of Artforums from Wystan Curnow’s house.1 A compression of material necessary when there’s too much world. This phrase struck Hito and she used it as the title of her book published in 2014.2

In the spring I made some videos for Josef Strau. It had been a particularly bleak winter in Manhattan and he had hard-drives full of ice pics and snow vids from his iPhone. We made rhythmical montages set to soundtracks from Native American early contact movies.3 As a European in NY, he said he felt like a colonial explorer. As a New Zealander, I told him, Germanic Europeans still see a Gauguin fantasy that’s not available anymore to the major colonial cultures. He thought that was pretty far out.

Martyn Reynolds in collaboration with Halvor Rønning Les Nouvelles Nouvelles Libertés, Accesorios Especiales 2014. La Salle de Bains, Lyon, France. Photo: La Salle de Bains

Martyn Reynolds in collaboration with Halvor Rønning Les Nouvelles Nouvelles Libertés, Accesorios Especiales 2014. La Salle de Bains, Lyon, France. Photo: La Salle de Bains

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