Josef Dabernig (AU)


Josef Dabernig has been working as an artist since the late 1970s. His oeuvre comprises photographs, objects, texts and architectural installations. In the mid-1990s he also started making films. Dabernig is fascinated by the decline of public architecture and social infrastructures. Many of his films are set in former East Bloc countries. They are portraits of modern decline in which absurd scenarios are played out. His films - or ‘micro-dramas’ – are narrative, though the suggested story usually remains unspoken.

Wisla (1996)

video, black & white, sound, 8’

Characteristic of Josef Dabernig is that he takes gestures and facial expressions out of their original context. He wants to focus on man’s curious behaviour in diverse situations. In so doing he reveals expressions of aggression, competitiveness and the exercise of power. A football coach and his assistant follow the progress of an imaginary match in the Wisla stadium in Cracow. The grandstand appears to be empty. The roars and cheers added by the artist derive from Italian matches. Typical elements of football are brought together here, but do not form a logical whole. 

Sports Ground Panorama 5 in Gyumri - Levon Ishtoyan Football School (2008-2013)

photo print on the windows of the cafeteria 

This is a photograph of the sports ground of the Levon Ishtoyan School of Football in the city of Gyumri in western Armenia. The city was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1988. Dabernig talks about his visit: ‘When the coach invited me into his spartan office after my photo shoot, I noticed a number of shrivelled up footballs lying on the floor, so I got a cultural institution to sponsor 20 new balls. I had to make it clear to the organizers of the art biennial taking place in Gyumri that this gesture was not part of my normal artistic practice, but merely a sidestep from the ritual of photography.’

Excursus on Fitness (2010)

video, black & white, sound, 12’

In excursus on fitness six male and female actors perform simple physical exercises without great application. Their focus is less on achievement and physical training than on disciplining the body. Each of the protagonists performs his role without coming into contact with the others. It is a choreography of individual performances with communication within the group frozen into a geometry of gestures and looks. The film raises questions about disciplining the body through sport and a person’s relationship with his body at the different stages in his life.