13 Objects by

___fabrics interseason / Bernd Serafin Thaler / flor de illusion / Johannes Heuer / km/a / Michelle Kraemer / miss lillys hats / Nedra Chachoua / Newsknitter / pitour / rosa mosa / Sonja Bäumel / Trikoton

The period, the region, the craftsmanship, the former ownership
– for a true collector the whole background of an item adds to the
magic encyclopaedia whose quintessence is the fate of his object.

—Walter Benjamin, Unpacking My Library

I would like to introduce Another Austria’s selection of objects by invoking some of the thoughts of the philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin. In his celebrated essay on collecting, Benjamin reflects upon a particular kind of engagement with material objects, namely that of the collector. Unlike regular consumers of commercial culture, the collector is bound to his objects by an intimate bond that exceeds the measures of usefulness. The functional, utilitarian value of an individual item is of little importance to the collector, who studies and cherishes his objects almost exclusively for their physical features and aesthetic qualities. In the history of scholastic inquiry, the semblance of an artwork has often been regarded as secondary to the underlying meaning or essence which is alleged to exist beneath it. However, by privileging the object’s manifest appearance over its content, the true collector – much like the flâneur – inverts this hierarchical structure and consequently undermines a classical aesthetic ideal in Western thought. The ardent devotion to the surface of things, the shell and shape of an entity, has long been a fundamental element of the world of fashion and art. Another Austria presents an inspiring collection of fashion and design objects which have been carefully chosen  by the curator, Claudia Rosa Lukas. Many of them are unique pieces, involving complex processes of production and unusual combinations of materials, created with the luxury of freedom from commercial restraints: a tent crafted into a sophisticated coat  by km/a; two beautifully hand carved brooches in wood by flor de illusion; Sonja Bäumel’s embroidered tattoo on a latex surface;  an unusual head piece embellished with Japanese velvet flowers by miss lillys hats, to name but a few.

A passionate preoccupation with appearances rarely fails to give rise to some dispute. Indeed Benjamin’s defence of collecting is still deemed controversial within certain areas of academia. However, bearing in mind these Benjaminian reflections, it seems hard to ignore that an authentic engagement with objects might provide a critical challenge to the instrumental rationality of future and profit-driven societies of our time. Another Austria invites you to partake in a playful, non-purposive relationship with the presented  designer artefacts and pieces of fashion, appreciating their past, present and infinite possibilities.

Eugenia Lapteva