This book is published on occasion of the parallel exhibitions Silke Otto-Knapp presented in two markedly different locations: on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, and at the Kunsthalle Wien Karlsplatz, Vienna. The contrasting influences of place—between rural and urban, new and old world—is evident in the selection of works presented and compiled in this catalogue. The partnering of these exhibitions clearly brings into focus questions about art and its contexts. The tensions between nature and culture provide an appropriate figure for the artwork: a context imagined and devised for the circumstances of its own activation.
Questions of Travel includes essays by Susan Morgan and Vanessa Joan Müller and a conversation between Otto-Knapp and Nicolaus Schafhausen. Müller reflects on how the tensions Otto-Knapp's artwork engenders are the substance of its experience, while Morgan approaches the work via three significant influences: the cultural geographer J. B. Jackson; avant-garde dancer Anna Halprin and her husband, the landscape architect Lawrence Halprin; and the poems of Elizabeth Bishop. In the conversation with Schafhausen, Otto-Knapp likens the art exhibition to “a theatre situation that is both distinctly separate from reality and engaged with it at the same time.” As the activating element of an exhibition, the viewer could also be said to embody the reality of a work's engagement. Otto-Knapp took the title for this project, “Questions of Travel,” from Bishop's poem of the same name, which has been reprinted for this catalogue.
Published on the occasion of Otto-Knapp's exhibitions “Questions of Travel (Wien),” Kunsthalle Wien Karlsplatz, March 12–May 25, 2014, and “Questions of Travel (Fogo Island),” Fogo Island Gallery, April 16–August 31, 2014.
Silke Otto-Knapp, a German native artist (1970 in Osnabrück) now based in Los Angeles, makes black and white monochromes by applying watercolour to primed canvas, and combines motifs of landscape and decorative painting with a distinctive technique of layered and erased coats of paint to create works that are called by the LA Times as “visually elusive as quicksilver.”