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Neue Galerie Graz – “The Studio”: Art as a Means of Self-Empowerment

Neue Galerie Graz – “The Studio”: Art as a Means of Self-Empowerment

This afternoon, for the last time this summer, the cross-institutional art therapy and mediation project “Das Atelier” will be taking place at the Neue Galerie Graz. Visitors can also visit a show of work curated and designed by the Atelier participants themselves, which is also a kind of retrospective.

An open studio outside the hospital

Art brokers from the Neue Galerie and art therapists from LKH Graz II, located south, teamed up four years ago to create an open studio outside the hospital. There, people who have been released from treatment should have the opportunity to return to society through participation in art and artistic expression.

A large number of the visual, textual and inline works of the project participants can be seen over the summer in three exhibition spaces in the Neue Galerie that have been requisitioned for temporary use.

“The Atelier” was a creative playground for people who had previously been in therapy
© Andreas Stangl

Every Wednesday since 2020, six to ten people formerly in psychotherapy have had the opportunity every Wednesday at the Neue Galerie to engage with art in a variety of ways, accompanied by a medium and a therapist, as well as to work creatively on their own.

A work of art without ego

Exhibits that were chosen and creatively displayed together by the participants themselves should not be seen as “works” in the narrow sense, says Monika Holzer-Kernbichler, Head of Art and Architecture Education at the Neue Gallery and at the Kunsthaus. “It’s not about making art. “For these people, who have had dramatic situations and clinical residencies, it’s about finding creative expression.” The protected framework of the museum enables participants to work artistically outside the art world where egos and personal sensitivities play a major role, says Holzer Kernbichler.

Make yourself visible

A lot of time is invested in discussions with the participants, adds Anna Ducker, one of the art educators involved in the project, who stresses that the project is above all a tool of “empowerment”, the self-determination of people torn apart by life, who gradually learn while working in the museum “to show themselves”.

Artworks are also used as a tool "empowerment" To understand

Artworks should also be understood as a tool of ’empowerment’.
© Andreas Stangl

The gallery has been modified frequently by the participants over the past few weeks, and thus has remained in the creative flow until the end. The exhibition presented itself to visitors as a very diverse installation that surprised with its diversity and overall aesthetic. Needless to say, the exhibits also include works that meet all the criteria of a work of art to the highest degree.

“Technical asylum” for people with mental illnesses

The project is linked to efforts to create an art sanctuary for people with mental illnesses in Graz, along the lines of the first so-called “living museum” in Queens, New York state. The latter was founded in 1983 by the artist-psychologist duo Janus Marton and Polek Grzyzinski. The initiative was influenced, among other things, by the Gogging Artists’ House in Klosterneuburg near Vienna. Regardless of whether and when there will be a separate “living museum” in Graz, “Das Atelier” must continue anyway.

The Atelier: Today from 4 pm to 6 pm New Gallery Graz.