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The Unknown Unknwons

In 2014, I had a studio for a year in a building located in a very central location in Vienna. At the very top of the building was a huge ballroom that was converted into an exhibition space... Since the room was located on the top floor, the organizers called it "Oben" (German for "above"). The enormous dimensions of the room inspired me to think big. The ceiling height alone was 8 meters high. I had special canvases made for my paintings because I wanted to push my boundaries.The curator Isin Onol, who co-conceived the exhibition with me, wanted me to display the cut-outs, which I usually present with blue light, without illumination this time, as she found it intriguing that this way one discovers the materiality of the paper. The title of the exhibition was "The Unknown Unknowns," a term made famous by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld in reference to the weapons of mass destruction that were supposed to be in Iraq. The focus of the exhibition was on transitional rituals, affiliations, and symbols of power. Additionally, the exhibition revealed the patriarchal structures of the 20th century. One piece depicted a hunting group from the turn of the century. On the over 5-meter-long painting, you can only see men with rifles slung over their shoulders. Another cut-out showed a Harvard graduation class, also predominantly consisting of men, as the photo reference is from the 1950s. A graduation class photo from one of the most prestigious universities in the world is like a benchmark transitional ritual. . A third group is more abstract and represents a large union meeting. A huge gathering of workers. The exhibition was expanded with two large-scale cut-outs of the World Trade Centers and the NSA. The World Trade Center was a dark chapter in the political development of my generation and has strongly influenced the times in which we live today. This is especially true for the NSA, which has systematically collected data since the early 2000s and has greatly influenced the digital age in which we live. Today, we have pushed aside the fact that we systematically provide our data without knowing the political future. This brings us to the image of the presidential palace built by Ceaușescu. In order to build the second-largest building in the world, an entire neighborhood had to be demolished. When I first posted the image on social media, Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi commented "The Monster." The exhibition concludes with a pavilion island on wheels. There is an American death row room depicted, centered around the deathbed on which the condemned is restrained before the lethal injection is administered.

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