Vanishing Lessons is a 1994 album by Christian metal band Tourniquet. It is also the name of Austrian artist Markus Schinwald's new show at the Kunsthaus Bregenz.
On the three top levels of the Kunsthaus Bregenz, Markus Schinwald (b.1973 in Salzburg) will set up three studio sets like for sitcom TV productions. Each of the sets will consist of bleachers with an audience seating capacity of approximately 80; three flat screens, three TV cameras, and a stage backdrop will complete each scene. For a few days prior to the exhibition opening and during the initial weeksof the show, the three cameras will be used to shoot 20-minute-long sitcom-like scenes based on a script by the artist and following his stage directions. These scenes will be played for the visitors on flat screen televisions during the exhibition. The sets will vary on each of the three floors, and the episodes will be played by different groups of about five protagonists. All sets, props, and costumes will be designed by the artist himself.
The sitcom (short for “situational comedy”) is a genre that originated in the USA and which is found today almost exclusively in the form of series on television. One typical characteristic of the classic sitcom is that it is recorded in the studio: the actors perform on a raree-show-like stage. The storyline is usually limited to a few sets, which are retained and used over and over. The stage effect is emphasized through the actors’ performance toward the front of the stage and by the laughter of the studio guests which the TV viewers hear. Usually, three cameras positioned in a pit between the audience and the stage are used: one camera shoots a wide shot of the action; the other two concentrate on the active characters. The sequence is later edited using the film material shot of the same action from three different angles. Due to the trivial nature of the everyday situations portrayed in this genre, the sitcom has often also been called a “show about nothing.” Because it often addresses social customs and conventions, neurotic and obsessive behavior, and the mysterious mechanisms of human relationships, the sitcom could be categorized as a comedy of manners in episode form. On the first floor of the KUB, the set is a raree-show-like stage, which uses large mirrored surfaces, a partition wall concealing a passageway, and a cabinet with a secret door for surprise appearances. Here the actors perform using the conventional means of language and gestures.
On the second floor, the stage architecture is more open and porous. The space is divided by low partitions that can be used and passed through, and there will also be a nineteenth-century hearse cut in half. The protagonists on this floor will be five dancers. There is no speaking anymore; the sound track consists solely of music. On the third floor, the background stage architecture has virtually disappeared and been replaced by rotatable spatial elements. Gymnastics apparatuses – uneven bars, horizontal bar, vaulting horse, rings, etc. – which have been altered by the artist, are the objects used for acting and exercising by five gymnasts. Language and music have been supplanted here by the sounds made when executing the exercises.
Kunsthaus Bregenz Website